Climate Change Ain’t the First Existential Threat

A Twitter essay by Mary Annaïse Heglar (@MaryHeglar)

Screenshot of Mary Heglar’s twitter banner

Dear Climate Movement:

I love y’all, but I need you to quit acting like climate change is the FIRST existential crisis.

For 400 years and counting, America itself has been an existential threat for Black people. (Also, I’m not sorry).

This game of what I call “existential exceptionalism” is a losing one. It is not only inaccurate, short-sighted, and arrogant — it’s dangerous. And for me, as a Black woman from the south, it’s downright insulting.

Imagine living under a calculated, meticulous system dedicated to and dependent on your oppression. Now imagine your children growing up under that system. How’s that for existential?


You don’t fight something like that because you think you will win. You fight it because you have to. What, now, do you have to lose? What else can you be but brave?

So, the next time you want to “educate” communities of color about climate change, remember that they have even more to teach you about building movements, about courage, about survival.

Mary Annaïse Heglar’s full essay can be found at “Climate Change Ain’t the First Existential Threat“.

Mary Annaïse Heglar is Publications Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. She provided permission to Discard Studies to republish her recent tweet thread on climate change and existential crisis. 

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