Environmental Racism

Racism in the United States has been a problem for hundreds of years. With the advent of the industrial revolution and the beginning of the modern age, a new form of racism has emerged within our society. This new form of racism deeply affects not only the oppressed but the oppressor as well. This is called Environmental Racism and it heavily impacts all people.  Here is a quick look over Environmental racism in the United States. You can see its origins begin somewhat in 1971 after protests were made in Warren County, North Carolina, where the United Church of Christ commissioned a report exploring the concept. The 1980’s saw the African_Americans begin organizing environmental campaigns to avoid poisoning from pesticides from for farm workers and lead poisoning for inner city kids. The term environmental racism itself actually was brought up at a conference held at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources in 1990. It was created to help describe the relationship between the environment and racism. So then what exactly is the correct definition of environmental racism. We know what it is but how is it best accurately defined? According to African American civil rights leader Benjamin Chavis he stated that environmental only exists when there is intent. Intent as in there is a clear motivation and intetion by people to segragate and racial discriminate those in accordance with environmental planning. Now lets begin by displaying three cases of environmental racism in the United States that have occured within the last fifty years.

The first example comes from a very recent crisis that began in April of 2014 and this is of course the Flint’ Michigan water crisis. Currently the issue has been largely resolved but it has taken an extremley long time for the U.S. central government ot act accordingly. This is why many people consider this an act of environmental racism because this was a largely African American community and if it was a white community there most likely would have been a faster response. Here is an image of where Flint, Michigan resides in the state.

Image result for flint michigan map

Another recent example comes from the devastation of Hurrican Katrina in 2005. After the storm hit and the city was completely underwater, it took the Bush Administrtion a long time to effectively enact a plan to help the city. Even with thje president’s rescue plan it did not consider the majority of the people in the city used public transportation instead of cars so it could not help. This is becuase most of the people in Louisana were African American and many did not owns cars and instead used public transportation. In the months following the disaster ,the many black organizations and leaders condemned the federal government’s repsponse to the disaster and stated that is was “slow and incomplete.”

Image result for chester pennsylvania on map

The last example  comes from a town in Pennsylvania named Chester and resides in Delaware County. It is located relatively close to the city of Philadelphia. In population of Chester is 65% African American. In Chester there are five large waste facilities and these various waste facilites polute the air and water around the area. The people in the area are 2.5 times more likely to develop cancer that anywhere else in Pennsylvania and the mortality rate is 40% higher than the rest of Delaware conuty as well as having the highest mortallity rate in the area. This is rather interesting as the rest of the county is 91% white, yet it is only affected the black minority. This is a very clear case of enviromental adn you can follow this link to get to know more about it.

It is clear that environmental racism is a problem that is facing American society and it is a problem that must be fixed. Hopefully over the coming years and decades it can finally be fully resolved and addressed.




The History of Racism in America

The issue of racism has been a major problem in the United States since the country’s early beginnings. First, the Native Americans endured hatred and genocide when the first Europeans landed on US oil. Then, slaves from Africa and the Caribbean were shipped to the new world to work the farms and perform other laborious tasks for their owners. The country has had a constant theme of racism throughout its entire narrative spanning all the way to the present day. I agree that tensions in today’s world are high, but they do not compare to the past and how society use to view minorities.

There is so much to talk about when dealing with the issue of racism. I chose to just give a description of some of the more important or famous events that have taken place since the 1960’s. While there are many different races and groups in this country that face great adversity, the African American Civil Rights movement remains the most prominent for its relevance in the past and present societies.

Until 1965 Jim Crow laws were enacted in the United States to halt the progress of African American civil rights. For example, these laws include, “All marriages between a white person and a negro, or between a white person and a person of negro descent to the fourth generation inclusive, are hereby forever prohibited.” (Florida law) and, “No person or corporation shall require any white female nurse to nurse in wards or rooms or hospitals, either public or private, where negro men are placed.” (Alabama law) Living in today’s world it is unfathomable how people could have obeyed such laws. While they may have tried to slow African American progress, many people rose during the 1960’s to challenge society’s rules

For example, Martin Luther King Jr. came into the headlines for his leading of the Million March which took place in 1963. During this event nearly 1.1 million people came together to march for equal job opportunities and liberties in this nation. King ended the Image result for Martin Luther Kingmarch with his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech that called for equality. Because of this event and many others, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prevents the denial of employment due to sex, race, or gender.

King would not give up on his journey for equal opportunity as he chose to march again in 1965 in retaliation to black voter suppression. King and the other marchers were faced with heavy police retaliation as it took them three tries to reach their final destination in Montgomery, Alabama. Again, his efforts paid off as President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to halt poling centers from giving literacy tests to voters.

King would eventually be assassinated on April 4, 1968 on the balcony of his hotel room. His killer James Earl ray was eventually convicted in 1969 and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. King murder was only a small hindrance in the progress of the African American people though, as The Fair Housing Act was passed only a few days after his death. This act provided people with an equal opportunity for housing regardless of race, religion, or country of origin.

During the 1970’s there were few events that rivaled the significance of the 1960’s. During this period the first Blaxploitation films were being created to mock the African American race. There was certainly a high level or racism even though the government passed so many laws that promoted equality. Swann v. Charlotte- Mecklenberg Board of Education was another event that tried to further the integration of whites and blacks. This case, which took place in 1971, upheld the busing of African American students. A year after this case was decided, this country had the first African American presidential candidate names Shirley Chisholm. She eventually lost, but her nomination sparked the notion that anything was possible for people of color in this nation.

During the rest of the 1970’s and the 1980’s, there were many instances of racism against blacks and other people of color. The 1990’s though, saw a rebirth in the prominence of racism in our country. Rodney King, an Africa

n American motorist, was pulled from his car and beaten by white police officers on national television on March 3, 1991. The police officers were dismissed of all charges

Image result for LA Riotswhich led to the LA riots in 1992. During these riots, there were 63 deaths, 2,383 injured, and 12,111 arrests as police clashed with angry citizens.


The problems of the 1990’s have carried over today’s world as movements such as #BlackLivesMatter and #CantBreathe have spread across newspaper headlines. People today are still protesting against police brutality and like the LA riots, there have been riots in other cities as well. The question Is how do we end this deadly cycle of racism that has infected so many people in our nation since its discovery? As of now, there does not seem to be an answer but African Americans and people of other races will continue to fight and protest for an equal view in the eyes of society.

Police Brutality: History and Present

Pictured: “Police officer Daniel Pantaleo placing Eric Garner in what appears to be a choke hold as several others bring him to the ground and struggle to place him in handcuffs. (Ramsey Orta/YouTube)” (Telegraph.co.uk)

The first instances of modern policing was in the 1830’s and 40’s, which was put in place in order to better control growing cities, and ever since then, there has been police brutality against people of color, specifically black people.  Along with the horrors of the Jim Crow South, when African Americans fled to the North, they too were subject to the horrors of racist and punitive policing of the northern cities where they sought refuge.  For more clarification, police brutality is “the abuse of authority by officers tasked to protect and serve. When we think of police brutality, physical abuse is usually what first comes to mind; however, police brutality has a broader meaning. It also encompasses threats, verbal abuse, the illegal planting of drugs and weapons on or in someone’s personal property, or even murder. It is a means of using one’s authority to intimidate and oppress others” (Study.com).

The time periods for the purposes of relevance are from the 1960’s until now. To begin, during the 1960s, “police brutality was a catalyst for many of the race riots that took place in urban America, including the Watts Riots of 1965 and the Detroit Riot of 1967” where there were many killed, there millions of dollars in damage, and thousands arrested (study.com). Riots and protests from police brutality sparked the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, which was dedicated to ending legalized racial discrimination and segregation, among fighting for equality and equity for black Americans.

Other instances of police brutality and its negative effects were in 1980, where the  “Liberty City section of Miami erupted over the police killing of an unarmed African American man. During a period of three days, 18 people were killed and some 1,000 arrested, and more than $100 million in property damage was committed” (CITE). A decade later, in 1990, was the beating of Rodney King. King was brutally beaten by police officers, and the officers were subsequently acquitted of all charges of excessive force and assault with a deadly weapon. This incident “triggered the Ls Angeles Riots of 1992, still considered the worst race riots in American history. During a period of six days, more than 50 people were killed and more than 2,300 were injured, and property damage was estimated at about $1 billion” (Brittanica.com).

Most recently, a few significant killings included those of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Micheal Brown. In February 2012, Trayvon Martin was wrongfully killed by officer George Zimmerman, who was later acquitted. In response, the “Black Lives Matter” civil rights movement was created by Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza. This movement involved physical protest responses, as well as online campaigns and hashtags across social media. According to NYTimes.com, “As America began to pay more attention to police shootings of unarmed blacks, the movement’s power grew. That power was derived from its simple, bold and irrefutably true proposition — that black lives do not exist for pleasurable disposal in a society still mired in its white supremacist history.”

In July 2014, Eric Garner was slain by a New York Police officer who “used a banned chokehold technique to restrain him, despite being unarmed. He was wrestled to the ground by several police officers after a complaint he was illegally selling loose cigarettes. In a video that went viral, the black 43-year-old said: “I can’t breathe” which was soon adopted by protesters after Daniel Pantaleo, the only officer that was investigated by a grand jury, was not charged (Telegraph.co.uk). The “I can’t breathe campaign was adopted across social media as well, and put onto shirts by campaign supporters, professional athletes, and simply people believing in the cause.

Michael Brown died the following month, and he was “an unarmed black teenager shot by Darren Wilson, a white police officer on the street Ferguson, Missouri. Some said he had his hands up in the air and the shooting led to protests and some violence for 10 days. In November, a grand jury said the officer should not face criminal charges in the case that led to a nationwide discussion about the treatment of black people by white police officers (Telegraph.co.uk). This killing led to the #Ferguson hashtag, which went viral across all social platforms.

Police brutality has been prominent ever since the first slaves landed in America. Over time, legalized racist practices have slowly faded away, but institutional racism and marginalization is still very much relevant. Brutality against people of color by law enforcement has not been getting worse, rather it has been getting filmed. More and more are aware of these injustices, and with the help of online platforms, people across the nation can work together to make a change.