Racism isn't just about police brutality or the criminal justice system.
It's in the air and water. The water crisis in Flint, Michigan is a textbook case of environmental racism. We explain how it's playing out across the country.
The HereAfter Report: Enviromental Racism: Most of the Glyphosate Sprayed in CA is Applied in Poor Areas (Hispanic or Latino and Black)
“We’ve uncovered a disturbing trend where poor and minority communities disproportionately live in regions where glyphosate is sprayed,” said Dr. Nathan Donley, a staff scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “In high doses glyphosate is dangerous to people, and California can’t, in good conscience, keep allowing these communities to pay the price for our overreliance on pesticides.”
It’s not just Flint: Environmental racism is slowly killing blacks across America | theGrio
The water crisis in Flint, Michigan is more than just a natural disaster or a series of unfortunate, environmental events — it is an inexcusable, egregious human and health rights violation against a majority black city, where 56 percent of the population is African-American. With full cognizance of the hazardously toxic water supply since 2014, Governor Snyder’s lack of political action on this issue fits perfectly into the narrative that not only was this intentional, but as Flint native Michael Moore has declared, it is a racial killing and genocide.Ethnic Cleansing: The Ultimate Environmental Racism | Black Agenda Report
Unfortunately, Flint is not the only city where African-Americans and people of color are suffering from the onslaught of environmental racism and discrimination. Detroit schools are so heavily infested with rats, roaches and mold that more than 85 schools closed on Wednesday, as teachers staged a sickout in protest to the deplorable conditions. In Baltimore, the levels of lead poisoning among children is three times the national rate. Before Freddie Gray became a victim of racialized state violence in Baltimore, he too was a victim of lead poisoning as a young child; tests showed that his blood lead levels were as high as seven times the reference level given by the Centers for Disease Control.
How the EPA Has Failed to Challenge Environmental Racism in Flint—and Beyond | The NationThe ethnic cleansing of the cities, now sweeping the nation at a dizzying, near-frantic pace, is a far higher order of threat than your garden (or landfill) variety of environmental racism. Indeed, it is an existential threat to Black America. Unlike the industrial environmental racists, whose relationship to Black communities is in some ways perversely symbiotic (a place to park their foul facilities near metropolitan centers, and to hire cheap labor), the urban ethnic cleansers want Black people gone – period. Their purpose is to make life unbearable for the Black poor, to uproot them by creating as hostile an environment as possible, in order to clear the way for new, whiter, more affluent populations. The logic of the “marketplace” in racist, capitalist America dictates that the Black presence depresses land and housing values, impeding the artificial inflation of property assets that is the imperative of finance capital. Hegemonic capital – Wall Street – which is in command of both political parties, seeks an urban “renaissance” that is non-Black by design.
That’s why the Obama administration was an eager partner to the bankrupting of Detroit and did nothing to deter the disenfranchisement of half of Michigan’s Black population through installation of emergency financial managers like the one that switched Flint’s water source from lake Huron to the septic Flint River. That’s why emergency managers have trashed Detroit’s schools, so that no public institutional basis remains for anchoring the Black presence in the city – a theft of democratic and educational rights that has been perpetrated in Democrat-controlled cities for the past two decades, and is almost always accompanied by gentrification. Activists against police lawlessness now understand the role that cops play in creating a hostile (and often fatal) environment for Blacks in neighborhoods targeted for gentrification by the banks.
Long before people in Flint, Michigan, had to worry about brownish, putrid-smelling, lead-laced water, they worried about poisoned air. In 1992, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources approved a permit for a new power plant in a predominantly African-American neighborhood in Flint that was already home to a cement plant, an asphalt plant, and other hazardous facilities. The power station is fed with demolition wood, some of it covered in chemicals and lead-based paint, which can release toxic particles when it’s burned.Environmental Racism: When Where You Live Determines How Fast You Die - The Root
Community members, including a Catholic priest named Phil Schmitter, complained to the Environmental Protection Agency, arguing that the state violated residents’ civil rights when they allowed yet another polluter to operate in the neighborhood. According to the complaint, the decision reflected a pattern in the state of siting toxic industrial facilities in communities of color. The EPA’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), which is supposed to police discriminatory decision-making by agencies and private companies that receive federal funding, said it would initiate an investigation in 1995. More than a decade later the agency sent a few employees out to look at the incinerator, Schmitter told me, but that was the last he heard from them. The office still has yet to release even preliminary findings.
Countless African-American neighborhoods are plagued by some of the worst ongoing environmental disasters that exist on the planet. There’s often a landfill, highway, airport or oil refinery next door. Nearby you can find contaminated bus depots, nasty subway stops, plus the lead in old houses, which can lead to neurological disorders and learning difficulties (pdf).Many of us are so accustomed to living in polluted, chronically disease-ridden neighborhoods that this environmental racism is virtually ignored in civil rights movements. Yet a closer look at where black communities exist gives rise to the sudden recognition that it’s a sinister design. The reasons are as complex and knitted into Americana as they are numerous. “People may not understand what environmental racism is,” argues environmental sociologist Robert Bullard in a conversation with The Root.“Racism keeps lower- to middle-income people of color stuck in danger zones,” says Bullard. “African Americans making $50,000 to $60,000 per year are way more likely to live in a polluted environment than poor white families making just $10,000 per year.”And where you live—down to your exact zip code—can determine how fast you get sick and how soon you die.