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Cultural Diversity, Breaking Barriers, & Racist Micro Aggressions
Environmental racism is not science, but the result of a power dynamic. The dynamic that causes environmental inequity occurs when people who have power in a society choose not to have environmental hazards in their community. This environmental inequity becomes environmental injustice when environmental hazards are placed in a community of disempowered people. Furthermore, environmental injustice develops into environmental racism when people in that community happen to fall into a different racial classification than those in power.
Coincidentally, or perhaps not so coincidentally, the people in American society who tend to be disempowered most often are Native Americans, Latino peoples, people of African descent, and other racial minorities. Science is simply a tool by which to measure the results of discrimination, and a blunt tool at that. Part of the reason the tools are inadequate is because a study that charts how close people live to waste sites does not take into account where the people get their food, their ability to relocate, or whether they had any say in the siting of the facility in the first place. Lastly, but most importantly, a study designed in this way doesn’t tell us who is getting sick and dying from environmental exposures. All of these are factors in the dynamics of power, yet none of these factors are addressed in the University of Chicago study.
The fact is that the University of Chicago study is based in part on historical data that is highly irrelevant. It defies logic and common sense to suggest that white professionals who can relocate almost anywhere would choose to move to a location that would be highly toxic. This would lead one to believe that the former industrial areas mentioned in the University of Chicago report no longer pose any serious health threats. If this is not the case, then the group that should have the most thanks for the researchers of this report are the realtors of the greater Chicago area.
This kind of information should provide at least
a short term boom as all the yuppies relocate to different parts
of the city. After all, what better way to depopulate an area
than to suggest that living there will cause residents to die
of cancer and have children born with birth defects. When people
don’t move after learning that they live in an area that
is contaminated, it is because they can’t afford to, not
because they prefer to stay.
The Changing Racial and Ethnic Compositions of the US Population: Emerging American Identities
- Perez, A. D., & Hirschman, C. (2009). The Changing Racial and Ethnic Composition of the US Population: Emerging American Identities. Population and Development Review, 35(1), 1-51. doi:10.1111/j.1728-4457.2009.00260.x
Reflection Exercise #8
Online Continuing Education QUESTION
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