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The Gist of Environmental Racism

Updated: Jul 18


BY SOPHIA LOPEZ


Environmental Racism is the pattern of how and where we destroy our environment in relation to the demographic of people it ends up harming.


Ever notice how minority communities happen to be located around factory sights, this is no coincidence. No one really wants their neighborhood to be air polluted by the toxins leaving the factories, but because minority communities tend to be underrepresented in politics, there is no one to take a stand against the construction of factories. It comes down to money; wealthy neighborhoods have the ability to push for court cases and hold influence over the politicians. While, lower-class neighborhoods don’t hold the same money or influence.


Examples of environmental racism are not hard to find. During World War II, at the time the atomic bomb was being built, Robert Oppenheimer needed vast lands to test out the bomb. The creation of the bomb came at the expense of Hispanic and Native American populations being forced to move from their home in Pajarito Plateau, Los Alamos. The residents were given little notice of their removal and no compensation for their troubles. Sixty years later, a class-action lawsuit was filed on the residents’ behalf.


Furthermore, the incident still occurring in Flint, Michigan is another example of more recent environmental racism. The contamination of the Flint River, along with the neglect of the city's infrastructure, left the Flint residents struggling to find sources of clean water for months. While Flint was populated with a large percentage of white residents, many who held the privilege to speak out ended up relocating from the area, leaving the rest of the residents abandoned by the capitol and their fellow citizens.


During the pandemic, we watch as black and brown communities disproportionately get hit the hardest. Many black and brown people suffer pre-existing health issues such as asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular issues. These pre-existing issues cause long term effects when met with COVID-19. This being said, these pre-existing health issues often stem from environmental issues, primarily air pollution.


All things in our society are connected, and environmental racism is the mix between social and environmental issues, which is why it is ever necessary to be solved in order to progress as a society who appreciates its environment. When we realize how connected the two issues are and begin to learn from our environment, we will be able to stop harming it and ourselves. So we urge you to keep educating yourself and those around you!