It Is Definitely Not Enough

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Havana sits outside her school as the only participant in last year's National School Walkout. Photo by her mom.

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Among young people and so many others enraged at the failure of Democratic functionaries to approve a climate debate as the planet burns is Havana Chapman-Edwards, an 8-year-old African-American powerhouse who argues, "We can’t make our world strong if we leave people behind." Fighting climate change isn't even her first rodeo: At seven, she was the only kid at her school in Alexandria, VA. to join last year's National School Walkout for gun control, acting on behalf of young African-American girls who are too often victims of gun violence, and of her cousin Tony, another victim. "Adults and lawmakers aren’t fighting for us, so we have to fight for ourselves," she said at the time. "All girls can change the world, but Black girls are the ones who have always fought the hardest because we had no choice." The daughter of an international teacher mother and Air Force father who has traveled widely and lived in five countries, she's also raised money to buy books for "children who look like me" and for girls in a Ghana orphanage: "These girls need books so that they can take pride in who they are and know that they are more than capable of being anything they put their minds to." Oh yeah, she's also on Twitter as @TheTinyDiplomat.

Climate change is our greatest threat, she argues; the solutions to that problem, like racial justice and gun violence, begin with education, which is why she joined a June Sunrise Movement sit-in to demand the DNC allow a presidential debate on the climate crisis. "But the Democrats locked us out and pretended not to hear us," she says. "I am only 8 years old, so I am used to grown-ups underestimating me. And right now, grown-ups are underestimating the climate crisis, too." In her travels, she says, she has learned "how we depend on each other. What people do in New York affects my friends in Mauritania. What people do in San Diego affects my friends in Australia, and the decisions made in Washington, D.C., affect my friends in Egypt," especially brown and black girls. In her school, she notes, they talk about recycling, gardening, protecting species, which is fine but not enough. Adults talking about the climate crisis but not acting boldly to avert it, she adds, is "definitely not enough" - after all, she has plans for the future: art, engineering, going to space. What is required: "Being stronger than fear." "The world cannot wait," she says. "Kids like me cannot wait. I may be tiny, but my voice is not."
"If your dream is only about you, it's too small." - Havana Chapman-Edwards

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