Patrice Lumumba, the Congolese independence leader and first democratically elected Prime Minister, was executed 55 years ago on 17th January, 1961. He had been beated and tortured in a culmination of two assassination plots by the Belgian government and the CIA, ordered directly by President Dwight Eisenhower to ‘eliminate’ the charismatic leader, with the cooperation of British intelligence and Katangan authorities.
We have dangerously warmed our world already, and our governments still refuse to take the actions necessary to halt the trend. There was a time when many had the right to claim ignorance. But for the past three decades, since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was created and climate negotiations began, this refusal to lower emissions has been accompanied with full awareness of the dangers. And this kind of recklessness would have been functionally impossible without institutional racism, even if only latent. It would have been impossible without Orientalism, without all the potent tools on offer that allow the powerful to discount the lives of the less powerful. These tools – of ranking the relative value of humans – are what allow the writing off of entire nations and ancient cultures. And they are what allowed for the digging up of all that carbon to begin with.