Glossary: Environmental Racism

Image Courtesy of The Cross Roads Fund
Image Courtesy of The Cross Roads Fund

The trip through ER can be a scary, threatening and life changing experience for people of color.

I am not talking about a trip to the emergency room, but a trip through life for the people who have to deal with environmental racism. If you are unfamiliar, environmental racism is the oppression of people of color through environmental degradation. According to Do Something, African Americans are 79 percent more likely to live in areas with industrial waste facilities, compared to Whites. The effects of living within close proximity to toxic dumping sites can have long-term effects on community well-being, specifically affecting the neighborhood water, air, and food quality.

The environmental struggles people of color face are systematic, stemming from poor governmental regulations and enforced policies that prioritizes the privileged, while complacently accommodates marginalized communities.

Mobilizing Our Communities

When engaging people of color in this issue, we must explain that the environmental movement is not about being a tree hugging hippy, but about sustaining our communities so that we can improve the livelihoods of future generations.

Communities of Color are Disproportionately Affected
In the United States low-income African American and Latinos are more likely to suffer from environmental racism. There is intersectional interest between economic class and race in the fight for a more sustainable future. Low-income areas, most often resided by people of color, are the hardest hit areas by pollution.

Fighting Back

But there is good news. A lot of work is being done for a more sustainable future that deals directly with environmental racism issues. Environmental Justice fights for equal rights for all people when dealing with the development of environmental laws, or the enforcement of new policies and regulations.

Getting Involved 

We Act for Environmental Justice is a Harlem-based organization, whose mission is to build healthy communities by assuring that people of color and/or low-income  participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies.

The NYC Environmental Justice Alliance is a non-profit that connects different grassroots organizations from low-income neighborhoods and communities of color who work toward environmental justice together.

By Korbin Miles

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