• Todd Petrella

Environmental Racism

As we all know, pollution negatively affects the environment, the oceans, and the organisms living in both areas. The negative impact is not contained to just those areas; people all over the world are negatively affected by the increasing amount of smog and waste. Lower-income and minority groups can be more-likely to experience these negative effects than other demographics. This is due to the fact that these people are living in areas that also happen to be near where factories dump their waste and contaminate nearby water sources. And, as of right now, there is little to no legislation in place to help these people move to a safer and healthier residence.


Environmental racism environmental justice


This is known as environmental racism (ER). According to the World Economic Forum website, ER is a form of racism where minority groups and communities are overburdened with health hazards due to being forced to live in areas in proximity to toxic waste dumps, sewage works, landills, and other emitters of harmful matter. This is a recently looked into area of systemic racism, so not too much is known beyond various cases across the country. The environmental justice movement is working to raise awareness of this issue, and by posting about this, we are trying to do our part to combat racism. The European Union is currently working to bring together scientists and policy-makers to further the push for environmental justice.


As part of the environmental justice movement, there are nonprofits working to confront this problem in lieu of legislation. We’ll briefly go over two organizations here and link to their pages so you can check them out to see what they’re doing to help!


Communities for a Better Environment (CBE)

Based out of California, CBE is a nonprofit aiming to build power in low income communities and minority groups. Founded in 1978, their goal is to “achieve environmental health and justice by preventing and reducing pollution and building green, healthy and sustainable communities and environments.” CBE had a relatively recent victory back in 2014 against Chevron and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. To quickly summarize, Chevron wanted to expand its Richmond, CA oil refinery, increasing its profits, yes, but also increasing the amount of air pollution in the city. CBE challenged the Air District, saying that it allowed Chevron to move forward with its expansion despite the fact that its Environmental Impact Report was faulty. CBE won the case, and many communities bordering Chevron’s property were saved from even more air pollution. Read the story here.


Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO)

LVEJO fights for environmental justice

This nonprofit operates out of a Chicago, Illinois neighborhood and has tasked itself with the achievement of environmental justice and self-determination for immigrant, low-income, and working-class families. They practice participatory democracy in the hopes of providing economic justice and healthy youth development. Currently, LVEJO is fighting against the transformation of a coal plant into a diesel logistics center near Little Village. Again, to summarize quickly, LVEJO was working with Hilco Redevelopment Partners and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to repurpose the coal plant into a multi-purpose campus to promote jobs, public health, and other activities to better the area for Little Village residents. However, Hilco and the Mayor decided they had other plans for the coal plant. Read the full article here.


Had you heard of environmental racism before reading about it here?


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