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Wednesday, Nov. 05, 2003 at 2:43 PM
Environmental racism is injustice against people of color from polluting industries. The smog from oil refineries and petroleum combustion after GM/Ford paved over LA's trolley trax causes more traffic, more smog, more asthma.
Environmental racism is exposing people of color to toxins and pollution from industry such as oil refineries (Chevron in Richmond). The air pollution causes higher rates of lung cancer and asthma in the population of Richmond, mostly lower income people of African descent..
This is compounded by smog from fossil fuel combustion of the many vehicles driven by suburbanites to and from the city. Inhalation of ozone and other toxins found in smog cause asthma conditions to worsen. Multiply this factor in LA and Houston and the problem worsens..
Earth First interviewed Robert Bullard about environmental justice for people of color. Earth First stands in solidarity with people who are subjected to environmental racism by multinational corporations like Chevron/Exxon/etc..
From the Earth First journal;
"RB: Race is still the potent factor for predicting where Locally Unwanted Land Uses (LULUs) go. A lot of people say its class, but race and class are intertwined. Because the society is so racist and because racism touches every institution--employment, housing, education, facility siting, land use decisions, you can't really extract race out of decisions that are being made by persons who are in power and the power arrangements are unequal. When we talk about the institution of racism as it exists in environmental policy, enforcement, land use, zoning and all those things. All of that is part of the environment and we have to make sure that our brothers and sisters who are in environmental groups understand that's what we are saying.
Environmental justice is not a social program, it's not affirmative actions, its about justice. and until we get justice in environmental protection, justice in terms of enforcement of regulations, we will not even talk about achieving sustainable development or sustainability issues until we talk about justice. A lot of the groups that are trying to address these issues in the absence of dealing with race may be fooling themselves. When we talk about what's happening along the US-Mexican border and the colonias and the maquilas and the devastation that is happening along the border, the health conditions of children and workers and not understand that it's also related to our consumption patterns, consumption behavior and who has the most money to consume the most. And those are issues that may be unpopular when we sit in rooms and talk but I think that's how the environmental justice movement is forcing these issues on the table and really getting a lot of people to think about how we can start to address the disparities and the inequities and the privileged position that some people have only because of the skin color that they were born in. And that's where the justice issues come into account.
Now all of the issues of environmental racism and environmental justice don't just deal with people of color. We are just as much concerned with inequities in Appalachia, for example, where the whites are basically dumped on because of lack of economic and political clout and lack of having a voice to say "no" and that's environmental injustice. So we're trying to work with groups across the political spectrums; democrats, republicans, independents, on the reservations, in the barrios, in the ghettos, on the border and internationally to see that we address these issues in a comprehensive manner. "
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