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.
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.”
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.