Jane Fonda on why climate crisis and reckoning on racial equality are intertwined

Fonda discusses the fossil fuel industry's adverse impact on Black communities.

September 10, 2020, 2:50 PM

Academy Award-winning actress and activist Jane Fonda delved into the seriousness of the global climate crisis by drawing attention to its health impacts on Black communities.

Fonda, 82, has been an outspoken activist since the Vietnam War. She's spent much of her time the last year combating climate change with her weekly "Fire Drill Friday" protests.

During her appearance on "The View" Thursday, Fonda explained why she believes the climate crisis and racial injustice are intertwined.

Jane Fonda takes the stage during a charity episode of "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire" which aired April 22, 2020.
Eric Mccandless/ABC via Getty Images, FILE

"There's a lot of levels to it," Fonda began. "First of all, the fossil fuel industry very deliberately puts its infrastructures, its wells, its fracking bits, its refineries and an incinerators in communities of color thinking that these people don't have enough power to push back and complain.

"As a result the people who live there are getting sick, especially respiratory problems which makes them extremely vulnerable to the COVID pandemic," Fonda continued. "What has brought us to this point in terms of the climate crisis comes from the same mentality that brought -- that had slavery create the economy in this country. Treating people like they weren't human, and putting them into bondage. It's the same mentality."

"When we talk about the climate crisis, we're really talking about everything, an extractive, xenophobic, entitled mindset that has to be done away with 'cause the crisis that we're facing isn't just a climate crisis. It's an empathy crisis. It's an equality crisis," Fonda added.

While expressing that "a lot of things" throughout the country need to be changed, she reiterated that fossil fuels are a priority, and "then moving to, how do we become a caring country... so that everybody has a decent life and doesn't have to live in constant anxiety about whether they can afford to have a roof over their head and put food on the table."

"We're so lucky to be alive right now to fight a fight that can determine whether we go forward as country that cares about people or we become, like, Brazil and Russia and countries that are governed by strong men who don't give a fuzzy rat's ass about people," Fonda said.

Fonda, who was arrested five times during her "Fire Drill Friday" protests, also signed an open letter in support of defunding the police. She spoke out on the "defund the police" movement on "The View" and the controversy surrounding the term. “We’re not talking about doing away with the police. We’re talking about reconfiguring it and having communities take the lead," Fonda said.

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