Environmental Racism

Many citizens of the United Sates refuse to believe the Climate Crisis exists. The predominant driver in this blissful ignorance is deception; they do not believe that the Earth is perishing because they will be and are the last to see these effects. Racism is an apparent reality in the United States whether it is displayed discretely or not. Although it is rarely discussed, this oppression continues even into Climate Change and environmental degradation. In fact, it is evident that there is disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards in lower-class communities all over the United States. 

What influences this disproportion?

One of the greatest instigating factors in this behavior are, “industries that follow the path of least resistance when deciding where to locate hazardous waste sites and other polluting facilities” (Erickson, Michigan News). In order to conserve money usage and ensure profit, large energy companies have systematic plans to limit money spent to discard waste. This problem even extends beyond just the disposing of dangerous biproducts. Factories are often constructed in low-income areas to once again limit expenses; subsequently, this lowers the value of said houses in surrounding areas, trapping the residents, limiting options to sell their houses, and leaving them with long-term health deficits. Morning Consult reported that, “In a poll conducted June 16-18 among 1,840 adults, 61 percent of Hispanic adults and 56 percent of Black adults said they’re ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ concerned about the impact of local pollution on themselves and their family, friends and community members, compared to 39 percent of white adults who said the same. In comparison, 27 percent of white adults, 17 percent of Hispanic adults and 12 percent of Black adults said they were ‘not that concerned’ or ‘not at all concerned’ about local pollution.” This further supports the notion of distrust and evident exposure to toxic elements due to individuals’ demography. 

People immediately believe that everyone is equally at risk of exposure to pollutants. However, according to Raquel Pinderhughes, “. . .a growing body of research shows that the most common victims of environmental hazards and pollution are minorities and the poor.” There is not one square inch of Earth that is not actively affected by the Climate crisis; although, much of it is concentrated in areas that people do not think twice about. Under previous governmental leadership, all protection for these communities was completely revoked, worsening their state. Whether it is particulate matter or toxic carcinogens, this problem is far from alleviation and needs desperate attention. 

Sources:

Erickson, Jim. “Targeting Minority, Low-Income Neighborhoods for Hazardous Waste Sites.” University of Michigan News, 19 Jan. 2016, news.umich.edu/targeting-minority-low-income-neighborhoods-for-hazardous-waste-sites/.

II, Vann R. Newkirk. “Environmental Racism Is Real, According to Trump’s EPA.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 28 Feb. 2018, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/the-trump-administration-finds-that-environmental-racism-is-real/554315/.

Jenkins, Lisa Martine. “’They’re Living With It Every Day’: Environmental Injustices Leave Minorities With Pollution Anxieties.” Morning Consult, 6 July 2020, morningconsult.com/2020/07/06/environment-racial-inequality-pollution/.

Pinderhughes, Raquel. “The Impact of Race on Environmental Quality: An Empirical and Theoretical Discussion.” JSTOR https://www.jstor.org/stable/1389310?seq=1/.

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