At 12 years old, my nagging phase was at its peak.
All I knew was blasting emo music and being angry at the world. However, the fury in my little body was nothing against the furious winds threatening all I knew outside my home. The wind howled and parted the air, turning summer dusk into my worst nightmare. The world was just as angry as I was, and was going to unleash its rage.
I begged my father to come and hide with us all under the table. He laughed, having been a Minnesota resident for twenty years, familiar with summer storms. Loud, but relatively harmless. However, unlike other storms we’ve been through, I could clearly see the pressure on his face as he started to move. I thought he was just as afraid of the noise as I was, but he was worried about the damage and whether he’d be willing to foot the bill from a storm like that.
Roaring winds and thunder left us silent and sunlight filtering through our windows the next morning. The house was eerily quiet, which meant my big and loud family was outside. As I ran through the yard with my bare feet, I felt the wet grass as the only sign of the fierce storm of the night before. It wasn’t until after I got to my parents that I saw the greatest indication of last night’s horror: a giant wind-killed evergreen lay on a power line in our backyard.
That tree sheltered me because I played hide-and-seek, read whatever book I could find, and cried about the end of summer.
With a single storm, the tree turned from a blessing into a burden.
My parents were worried. Our neighbors actually hated us because we were “too loud” and didn’t look like them. They would come into our yard and talk to my dad as if he was the cause of their power outages and put him in the baby talking to every company he could think of. Those were the days when I noticed his thick accent and how we would never fit in.
My father was afraid to admit out loud that we honestly couldn’t afford to remove the tree. I saw him shivering as he assessed how dangerous it would be to remove the tree from the power line alone. My mom stopped him by asking for enough money and telling him how to count on the food rack to get well.
My body couldn’t handle the information. My anger had an outlet. I was angry at our neighbors and businesses for ignoring us, for lack of electricity, at my father for stupidly trying to move the tree and not being able to bear any of this. I was mad at the world for making this issue exist. I was angry.
I had to care about the environment, seeing how it affected my family and other communities of color. I could not ignore the matter, because it drained our pockets and destroyed our homes. There was nothing in our favor. We were the last to get help if the power went out.
We were on the front lines of a cause we certainly did not cause; I didn’t have it.
Now, I use my voice to advocate for communities of color and marginalized people. If no one will listen to us, I will make sure we are too loud to be ignored. My anger transformed into resilience, prompting me to make room for myself to instigate change. As I continue my college education, I know the power of the boisterous push for divestment and a just transition focused on those this world has no interest in.
My anger now drives me to keep working, even though the climate space isn’t for people who look like me. It has become the hope of a future in which we are free from the constant destruction of corporations. You taught me that there may be no way out of this mess, but I can always assure myself that there is a way forward.
Sabrina is an Education Support Intern for Summer 2023. She is currently a sophomore at Stanford University studying Earth systems. In college she focuses on how to increase access to renewable energy for low-income and marginalized communities. She is also passionate about empowering youth against environmental injustice. She is excited to learn more about the climate educators and teaching methodologies in her home state of Minnesota. In her spare time, she can enjoy tea tasting and become a tea connoisseur.