School Strike 4 Climate Auckland disbands for being 'racist' after guidance from BIPOC community

School Strike 4 Climate Auckland (SS4C) has announced it is disbanding as a group due to being "a racist, white-dominated space".

The Auckland chapter of the organisation, which advocates for climate change to be treated as a crisis, announced the decision in a Facebook post over the weekend.

It said the group made the decision under "the suggestion and guidance" of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) members of the group along with individual BIPOC activists and organisations.

"We are disbanding because, since 2019, SS4C AKL (as well as the wider national group, though we can't speak on their behalf) has been a racist, white-dominated space. 

"SS4C AKL has avoided, ignored, and tokenised BIPOC voices and demands, especially those of Pasifika and Māori individuals in the climate activism space. As well as this, the responsibility and urgent need to decolonise the organisation has been put off for far too long. SS4C also delayed paying financial reparations for the work BIPOC groups/individuals within and alongside the group have done for this organisation in the past."

The group apologised for the "hurt, burnout, and trauma" to people and communities of colour and for the time it took to accept responsibility.

"We recognise that this apology can never be enough to make up for our actions on top of years of systemic and systematic oppression, racism, and the silencing of those who are the most affected by climate change. This apology is just one of our steps in taking accountability for our actions."

The members have now separated from the national School Strike for Climate team and said the decision was made independently.

Newshub has contacted School Strike 4 Climate NZ for comment.

Some commentators have taken to social media, saying the decision is overkill while others thought it was the right thing to do.

"It's been a fierce contest so far for most woke statement of 2021 but in June we can declare an undisputed winner," political commentator David Farrar tweeted.

Another person said they normally criticise "impossibly woke politics", but "the auckland school strike for climate isn't that & they did exactly the right thing."

"Correct response is not to apologise, it is to follow the stunning and brave method of School Strike 4 Student Climate Auckland: apologise for personally embodying racism, resign, and salt the earth so no future racists can occupy the space," another said.

Other people questioned the group's use of 'BIPOC' which is more commonly used in America. Its use has been criticised in New Zealand for grouping Māori into a generalised acronym from a different political context. 

The disbanding Auckland SS4C group is now turning its attention to promoting BIPOC-led climate justice groups, individuals and initiatives.

"BIPOC communities are disproportionately affected by climate change, so the fight for climate justice should be led by their voices and needs, not Pākehā ones," it said.

"We fully discourage any future and current Pākehā-led groups from occupying the space we leave behind."