From ISSUE 02
Growing up as a little girl in The Bahamas, I was convinced that only men could study science. I thought I was not good enough to be on the frontline of climate activism. As I grew up, I experienced climate change first hand through intensifying storm events. I knew I had to act to protect the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean.
The climate activists most of us know best or might think of first are the environmental politicians and scientists in countries of the Global North with power, resources and large platforms to help them make an impact. The truth is that anyone can be a climate activist with the passion and drive for change. My experience as a climate activist has taught me not to limit myself and not to put limitations on my capabilities regardless of my situation. A love for the environment is free without discrimination or fear.
My friend Ranako Bailey is an Ocean Hero and climate activist from Barbados, who does not let anything dampen his fire for youth/climate action. Ranako says that he got into activism to speak up for himself, and that it grew from there.
“I realized that there are more people like myself in my community whose voices aren’t heard,” says Ranako, “and I wanted to be an active agent of change for them.”
Ranako was my co-squad squad leader for Ocean Heroes Caribbean Regional Bootcamp in 2020, and is currently a student at the University of the West Indies. He is the co-founder of WeTalkingBois, an organization focused on providing a safe space for young men and amplifying their voices. He is currently serving as the youth network research director for the unicef HEY Campaign.
Every new climate activist starts at their own pace. Ranako shares that as a young person, people often take your word for granted. He says: “I think sometimes people see youthfulness, and assume that you don’t know what it’s all about because you’re young.”
Becoming a climate activist doesn't always come with the glitz and glamour of public speaking and activism. Being on stage and presenting your change exposes you to opposed forces. Climate activism can also be lonely. This is part of why it is important to include others in the process and encourage your friends and loved ones to be a part of the solution as well. Engaging your community in your journey is an integral stepping stone to a long career as a climate activist because it can help keep you motivated and might inspire them to start their own climate journey. Too often we limit ourselves because we don't fit the cookie cutter mold of “scientist” or “climate activist,” because of our age and being told we are too young to understand the complex relations of adult affairs, or because of our gender, or because of our race, or because of where we live. For Ranako, being from a developing country like Barbados means that it is especially important to make his voice heard.
”I think activism, you learn things along the way,” says Ranako. “Coming from a developing country, sometimes we tend to limit ourselves. So telling yourself that you're going to try and if you don't get it this time, you’re going to try again,— I think that assists us so that there's no barrier between the developing countries and the developed countries.“
Joining a group like the Ocean Heroes Network can be an amazing start or continuation to your climate activism journey. The youth of our generation are the upcoming politicians and leaders of this world and we should all have a say in how the environment we live in is governed regardless of age, gender or nationality. For too many years children have been told to listen to adults, to be docile and compliant; for too many years women have been put on the back burner of scientific studies and robbed of proper recognition; for too many years people from developing countries have been considered unimportant and uneducated. As a whole we can rise up victorious as the climate activists of today, tomorrow and the future of our very planet. We will march tall and will not let the limitations of society breed insecurity and doubt. Anyone can be a climate activist and you are the living, breathing proof.