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-By Sejal Sanjay Saste
When you take a step outside of
the front door of your house,
have you ever paid attention to
the area that your home is
 What do you see? Are the trees dark
green and the grass are cut and
watered? Are the children and pets
running around on the sidewalks and
parks, breathing in and out clean
oxygen air? Or, is water running from
the faucets in sinks as well as in toilets
and bathtubs clean, pure and
These are some of the things
that we take for granted. Not
everyone has access to clean
water, green healthy trees,
breathing clean air or healthy
produce and foods.
 Can you imagine your home, a place
where you consider safe, located near a
factory? Can you imagine drinking
water that is contaminated with harsh
chemicals? Do you know what it is like
to live in a neighborhood that does not
have access to grow their own fruits and
How is this possible? There is
one word that can describe
these kinds of situations…

A lot of people are pretty lucky to get up in the morning

and take a breath of fresh, clean air, or turn on the tap
and drink clean, uncontaminated water. But not everyone
is so lucky in this country or other parts of the world, for
that matter. It seems that a disproportionate number of
people who live in environmentally hazardous areas are
either minority groups and/or are people of low
socioeconomic status. That's what environmental
racism is basically about. It's the placement of people
into environmentally hazardous areas or, conversely, the
placement of environmental hazards into areas with high
numbers of minority individuals and/or economically
destitute populations.
 Environmental racism is a form of
institutionalized discrimination.
 Wait, what is institutionalized racism?

 Institutional racism is defined as ―actions or

practices carried out by members of dominant
(racial or ethnic) groups that have differential
and negative impact on members of subordinate
(racial and ethnic) groups.
 16.7 million children under 18 in the United
States live in households where they are unable
to consistently access enough nutritious food
necessary for a healthy life.
 The U.S. ranks 23rd among industrial nations in
infant mortality. African-American infants die at
nearly twice the rate of white infants. The infant
mortality rate is closely linked to inadequate
nutrition among pregnant women.
 62% of children rely on school meals for food and
1 in 12 go to bed hungry.
Environmental racism
in Michigan
 A very recent example of environmental racism
can be found in the predominantly black city of
Flint, Michigan. Here, water was poisoned with
dangerous levels of lead, a substance that can
lead to serious health consequences, including
brain damage. Instead of accepting the problem
and coming up with solutions, local and federal
government entities actually tried to cover it up
at first. Compare this with a dangerous natural
gas leak found in the mainly white community of
Porter Ranch, CA, where government officials
have been far more responsive to the threat and
the concerns of its citizens.
People’s struggle for justice
 The environmental justice movement fights racial and
class discrimination in environmental policy making,
the selective enforcement of environmental laws, and
the targeting of communities of color and poor
communities for environmentally disastrous land
uses, such as toxic waste disposal sites. Communities
of color and poor communities bear an unequal and
unfair number of environmentally destructive land
uses, land uses that take from the community but do
not give back to it. The environmental justice
movement seeks to end environmental and economic
injustices by eliminating the location of
environmentally toxic facilities anywhere.
Environmental justice
means no community
should be saddled with more
environmental burdens and
less environmental benefits
than any other.