What should we know about Environmental racism?

Malini VK - Infobite  28-Aug-2020

What should we know about Environmental racism?

Racism on the next level is Environmental racism.

  • One race showing superiority over another by discriminating them based on color and ethnicity is racism whereas environmental racism is worsening the livelihood of a particular race by polluting their essentials like air, water, land using the same superiority.

  • No one wants heavily polluting industries in their backyards, so these tend to be located near poor communities of color who often do not have the resources to fight them. The pollution deteriorates air, soil, and water quality, and compromises the community's health and well-being.

  • The hazards include toxic wastes, garbage dumps, heavy pollution, electronic wastes, foul odors and much more.

  • Environmental racism is not specific to a particular country or region, it is a planet-wide problem. However, African Americans, Native Americans and some Asian countries suffer the most from these environmental hazards.

Flint water crisis:

  • The Flint water crisis is a public health crisis that started in 2014.

  • In April 2014, Flint (city in Michigan, US) changed its water source from treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River.

  • Officials failed to apply corrosion inhibitors (which decreases corrosion rate of the metal) to the water. As a result, lead from aging pipes mixed into the water supply, leading to extremely elevated levels of the heavy metal toxin.

  • It was exposed to over 100,000 residents (mostly black community).

  • African American children are five times more likely to have exposed to lead poisoning. It created developmental issues like Autism, ADHD, reduced IQ, school failure and much more.

Dumping E-waste:

  • Nearly 40-50 million tons of e-waste (mobile, computer, etc.,) is generated each year. Only 20% of the waste is recycled yearly. The remaining 80% is exported to Asian countries.

  • The town of Guiyu in China is one of the major e-waste hubs. The heaps of discarded computer parts piled by the river contaminate the water supply with Cadmium, lead, and copper.


Some more examples of Environmental Racism,

  • Mass shipment of spent American batteries to Mexico.

  • Roma communities across Europe are often forced to live on polluted wastelands while deprived of essential utilities such as clean running water, fertile land.

  • In India, the term can be defined as the racial discrimination in environmental decision-making, policymaking especially against tribal people living in the hinterlands and frontiers of the country.

  • Sarnia, Ontario known as "Chemical valley" - Canada's largest concentration of petrochemical industries. The health of indigenous people living nearby in Aamjiwnaang and Walpole Island First Nations is at risk from the water and air pollution caused by the petrochemicals.

Racism is not just about police brutality or the criminal justice system. It is even in air and water.