Fifteen-year-old Aniya Butler of Oakland, California, started writing poems about racism and police brutality when she was just eight years old.
“Most of my poetry was focusing around the Black community and the oppression that we have faced over the past, you know, hundreds of years,” she says.
Later, she learned about climate change. Heat waves, floods, fires, and other global warming impacts often disproportionately harm people of color. So climate change began working its way into her verses. Butler recites:
“I am impatient
I want to live in a nation where my leaders actually lead
They see our lungs are being filled with last breath from burning trees drowning in ashes, more flames than people.”
Butler says reducing global warming is urgent, and poetry can be a call to action. So to help other young people speak up, she leads poetry and songwriting workshops for a youth activist group called Youth Vs Apocalypse.
And she urges all people – writers or not – to help raise awareness and demand solutions.
“If you’re an artist, you can use your art. If you’re more of a public speaker, you can do that. If you’re a filmmaker, make videos,” she says. “Just use the strengths that you have to really engage yourself, because this is your future at stake.”
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media