Like many working mothers, my mom’s office doubled as a daycare center. Much of my childhood was spent in my mom’s office, filing folders, stamping brochures, folding policies, and hiding underneath the table in the breakroom and playing fort with my younger brother. We “worked” with the constant sound of my mom’s voice in the background, on the phone with yet another client, patiently talking them through their claim.
Most of the wealth in my family has been generated by my mom’s insurance business, primarily through auto and homeowner’s insurance. My mom often says that she is there for people in some of the worst moments of their lives, like a devastating car accident or house fire. At the foundation of the insurance business is a concept of community care, that if we all chip in together then when disaster strikes, we can draw from the pool to rebuild our lives.
Of course because the private insurance industry is driven by profit, it’s not all warm fuzzies – much of the industry is devoted to calculating how risky it is for the business to cover a person, car, or home and denying coverage is routine. As a response to climate change and the growing risk of natural disasters, many insurance companies have stopped offering flood coverage altogether in high risk coastal areas, passing the buck to state and federal insurance plans. The industry has seen the writing on the wall about climate change and made a business decision to pull out of the most impacted areas.
This pattern of abandoning the common good to protect private assets is at the root of the extractive economy driving the climate crisis.
As a young person with wealth I will be marching in the People’s Climate March on Saturday because I resist the violence that wealth accumulation enacts on the people and the planet. I march for interdependence and collective safety because I know there is no Planet B to run to. I march because hedging risk and pulling back is no way to build towards a future where everyone has safe shelter, clean air, clean water, and dignified work. I march to honor my mother, an immigrant and woman of color who started her business because she wanted to support her local Chinese immigrant community and because it was essential for her to have access to safe, reliable, and self-determined work to support her family.
I march because community organizing is the best insurance we have against climate and economic disaster – it will take all of us contributing our time, money, energy, heart, and labor together to build a world that is racially and economically just, where communities are powerful, healthy, and living in alignment with the planet. Because like a good neighbor, community organizing is there! (Ouch I know, but I can’t help myself – I’m a State Farm baby!)