When Shushma Datt started Rim Jhim (drizzle) radio, she was partly influenced by the rainy weather of Metro Vancouver to pick the name for her station. When she looks back almost four decades later, it does not feel the same.
Once known as wet coast or Raincouver, the lower mainland is now constantly grappling with drought-like conditions and heat waves from summer through fall, due to climate change.
As Rim Jhim celebrates its 35th birthday this month, meteorologists are reporting a huge decline in the amount of rain received around this time of the year. The daily Chaataa (umbrella) update on her radio is no different.
Datt, who launched the Hands Against Racism campaign in 2015, has now created a space for discussions on environmental racism on both her stations, Rim Jhim and Spice Radio, taking her initiative to another level.
Since environmental catastrophes affect racialized groups disproportionately, it has become impossible to ignore the issue.
This coincides with the emergence of Anjali Appadurai, a South Asian climate justice activist, who challenged the Premier-designate David Eby for the BC NDP leadership. She was disqualified in spite of a very strong campaign. Anjali was interviewed by Datt for her famous TV show Women in Focus. Not only that, Appadurai also visited the Rim Jhim studio in Burnaby to participate in Hands Against Racism, which encourages participants to dip their hands in colour and leave a palm print on a white sheet of paper alongside a message against bigotry. “Everything for Everyone: Peace, Justice, Liberation, Love”, scribbled Appadurai.
Throughout her leadership run, she did not miss an opportunity to talk about the seriousness of environmental racism.
Other dedicated and vocal climate justice activists, such as Rita Wong, Peter McCartney, Alison Bodine and Donna Clark, as well as former Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, have joined Hands Against Racism remotely since the beginning of 2022 by sending in selfies with hands up in the air.
Wong is critical of controversial projects that are creating challenges for the livelihood of the indigenous communities. McCartney is associated with Wilderness Committee, and Bodine is a part of the Climate Convergence movement. Clark is a former teacher who is involved in civil disobedience against the cutting of old growth forests.
With its anti-racism mandate, Rim Jhim marches ahead to make everyone look into the intersectionality of environmental degradation, which remains the biggest threat to humanity.
Gurpreet Singh is a journalist