“We are seeing that no one else is going to fight for youth of color like youth of color. We don’t need people to speak on behalf of us when we can speak for ourselves”. Meet Nyiesha Mallet, a youth activist at UPROSE in Brooklyn, NY, Brooklyn’s oldest Latinx led organization whose mission is based in climate and community justice for Black and Brown folks.
Introduced to UPROSE at the age of 14, Nyiesha found herself in the midst of a Climate Justice boom that was in full swing. “I spent that Summer organizing my first Climate Justice Youth Summit, and was given the opportunity to speak on my first panel about how Environment injustice affected me. UPROSE not only gave me the knowledge, but the space to learn, grow and be a part of a community.” said Nyiesha. “They believed in me enough, and that allowed me to believe in myself enough to grow into the activist I am today.”
Throughout her organizing, Nyiesha has begun to connect the dots between New York City politics and environmental justice solutions, “NYC leadership is lacking right now when it comes to creative solutions to continue to support youth of color.”
Even so, Nyeisha emphasized the importance of other youth like herself to use their voices as their source of power,”The most important thing that young people should know about environmentmental activism is that you’re never too young to speak up. In fact your voice is the voice that matters the most, especially young people of color. Your voice is your experience, and your activism is you speaking up for yourself and your pears.” Nyeisha continued, “Our elders in this movement can only fight and nurture us for so long, and they need now more than ever to know that we will pick up the torch and light the way for others to join.”
In the midst of our current pandemic, Nyiesha spoke passionately on the intersection between the racial injustice that impacts Black and Brown lives and higher rates COVID-19 fatalities, “Black and Brown youth not only have to deal with Covid-19 and deaths and illnesses in their families like many others, but also the added levels of Economic injustice, and at home situations that are not ideal. This has always been our situation.” She continued, “We know that the youth are going to be affected, but we know even more now than ever that youth of color will be even more affected, especially Black and Brown youth. I believe that’s what Covid-19 is showing us this now more than ever.”
For youth looking to get involved in Climate Justice work, Nyeisha suggested a “bloom where you are planted” philosophy, “Join a nonprofit organization like UPROSE , that is doing the work in your community and that is made up by the community and is for the community,” she said.