Spotlight: Moiz Mir
Moiz Mir (he/him) is an environmentalist-turned-social-justice-warrior with big ideas and a deep understanding of the many layers of both our planet's climate crisis and the ongoing struggle for social equality.
A 2019 graduate of Sacramento State University's Environmental Studies program, Moiz has been active in change-making efforts in Sacramento for years. From leading student-run organizations during his time at CSUS, to interning with the Mayor’s Commission on Climate Change and leading youth engagement in environmental activism through organizations like Sunrise Movement Sacramento, Moiz is a valuable member of our social justice community. We caught up with him to learn more about his views, his drive, and how he keeps himself energized to continue the fight.
SJPC: What does social justice mean to you?
MM: “I approach interpreting what social justice means to me in almost the same way I approach religion, the two are interwoven for me. As a Muslim I approach Islam not as just a set of beliefs that I hold, but also as a daily practice and a way of life. In a similar way, what social justice means to me isn't just a belief that we should live in an ‘equitable’ society, as interpreted through lenses identifying the varying forms that oppression, harm, and violence manifest in.
Social justice is an active commitment, it's a promise, that in whatever pursuit you're in you will interrogate causes of injustice, and then intervene. It means that every day as you work towards building a business, technology, policy, relationship, community, or in anything else you do, you consider the impacts of your actions and think about the interpersonal and structural dynamics in place. It means taking the time to act with intention and recognize in situations of urgency or conflict: who it serves for you to rush to act, and who it doesn't. Does it serve you? Does it serve your community or protect something? Does it serve someone who needs help? Does it exclude someone? If this is a battle, is it one worth your energy to fight in this way, and if not today will you fight it at all?
Social justice is the commitment to say, ‘I will do it even if it might be the harder thing for me to do in this moment because it is the right thing’, and then act on that promise. It's not always hard. There isn't always a clear ‘right thing’.”
SJPC: Why are you involved in social justice?
MM: “I ultimately decided to get involved in social justice when I came to accept that it is the only thing that has or will ever move society forward. Innovation, technology, research, communication, systems, tools, are all things that we've used to increase our capacity to operate as a society, but social justice is what drives us to implement each of those in ways that can benefit us all.
I came to social justice as an environmentalist with a background in restoration ecology, in the context of realizing that environmentalism without social justice will never be enough to get us to confront the crisis of climate change. There's a trap of thinking: that if we don't stop climate change as the urgent crisis it is and prevent society from destroying itself then social justice won't matter. But if environmentalism without social justice was enough, we wouldn't be where we are today after 50 years since the first Earth Day. I want to be able to do the work of studying and repairing ecosystems and our relation to them, and while that work is broader than the context of climate change, I also know that we already have the science and know what we need to do to address the climate crisis. What we're missing is the collective power to make it a political priority, and implement it in a way that confronts the reality of climate justice and history of environmental racism through a Green New Deal and Red Deal.
I've been volunteering with Sunrise Movement Sacramento since it started in 2019 because it's an organization led by young people dedicated to advancing that cause, and building the people and political power we need for climate and social justice in Sacramento. I also work for 350 Sacramento to support the environmental advocacy of volunteers engaging with local governments, and to help build the local climate movement. Activism and organizing, as all work, is draining, but building community is also fulfilling and inspiring.”
SJPC: How do you self-care to keep fighting for social justice?
MM: “Part of fighting for social justice has to be picking your battles to conserve your energy. Unfortunately we live in a society that has been built in a way that allows injustices to persist, or has actively furthered them. Fortunately, we live in a society, and it is full of other people who are actively fighting for social justice or can be called to join.
I think for me the first part of self-care is recognizing that I am not alone and therefore: 1) I don't have to, can't, and shouldn't try to do everything with the finite energy I have, and 2) social justice is about building community and leaning into the relationships and trust in each other we build. There can be a great comfort in accepting those two things and letting go.
Another part of fighting for social justice has to be not letting it consume you, and giving yourself the space, time, and energy to live your life. Admittedly that can be easier said than done, and harder to do when home is where you work and you're limiting contact with others because of a global pandemic. Pre-COVID I'd find a lot of release in rock climbing. It was exercise, fun, even communal at the gym, and mentally engaging through puzzle/problem solving all in one activity. These days I find some of that release in biking along the river, raking leaves or gardening, cooking, reading, consuming stories, playing video games, and just being in community with the people I work with before I get video call-overload.”