The Sucky Word “Performative”

Blackstone has recently made a commitment to cut emissions by 15% on investments within the first 3 years of its purchase. For those who are not familiar with Blackstone, it is an investment firm and is one of the largest owners of real estate anywhere on the planet. Blackstone plans to hold itself accountable, by closely charting its process going forward. While this is a big step for a big firm to take, it’s certainly been a trend in the investment industry. Organizations such as UBS, Credit Suisse, and Morgan Stanley all have made their own large commitments to having their investment portfolios be environmentally friendly.

At first glance, this initiative seems to be great. Blackstone and other investment companies are stepping up to the task of helping with progressive matters. Environmental sustainability is perhaps the most pressing issue currently facing us today. Seemingly, these investment firms are attempting to make a positive contribution, especially with all their assets; however, to some people this is not adequate enough and it comes off as performative. I bring to your attention, a tweet I found on twitter.

presidente municipal del bussy on Twitter: “the Ivy League experience is seeing ur classmates tweet acab + repost intersectionality insta stories and then u look them up and they’re interning at Wall Street”

Apparently, there seems to be gatekeeping when it comes to who is a true advocate for environmental sustainability. One of the markers seems to be that you can’t work for a big firm. This isn’t just a one-time criticism, as on anonymous forums, like Vanderbilt Confessions, there have been people who made comments about people working for prominent corporations like this piece. In my opinion, calling such corporations and their employees as irredeemable because they have a reputation for contributing to the climate crisis is unfair and not helpful. First off, the fact that corporations are attempting to make changes in the way they invest means they see a need for making change. So, if you believe that these firms that are currently making sacrifices, must go further with their effort, then I believe it is important to bring it to their attention. However, saying outright that these corporations do not care about the environment, because they see things through a different lens than you comes off as incredibly elitist and doesn’t enact actual change. 

Furthermore, if we are to assume that Ivy League students are indeed the future of America when it comes to making important decisions, then that would seem to be a good signal for progressives when it comes to climate change. Ivy League students get many of their ideals and ethics from their experience at their respective institutions. If the next generation of Ivy League students take high executive positions, then it is likely that even more importance with regards to environmental sustainability will be put forward for that organization. So rather, students from prolific schools can be allies of environmental protection. Then again, these are just my thoughts.

By Matthew Jean-Mary

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