Laureate Database Anna H Merz

Communities of color are harmed by environmental racism when they are forced to reside close to hazardous waste sites like sewage treatment plants, mines, landfills, power plants, major roadways, and sources of airborne particulate matter. This systemic problem is examined, along with its manifestations and effects on Indigenous and low-income communities.

The phrase “environmental racism” was first used by Benjamin Chavis in 1982 to describe racial discrimination in environmental policy-making, the enforcement of laws and regulations, the targeting of communities of color for toxic waste facilities, the official endorsement of the presence of poisons and pollutants that pose a serious threat to human life, and the exclusion of people of color from positions of leadership in ecology movements.

Several Types of Environmental Racism

Unsound health rules in the workplace, coal-fired power plants next to non-white communities, a higher risk of lead poisoning in Black American children, and polluted locations for middle-class black Americans are all examples of environmental racism. Native American populations are exposed to radioactive and toxic waste, and uranium mining on Navajo land has long-term consequences.

Flint, Michigan is a good example of environmental racism because after the city switched its water supply to save money, the majority-black residents were exposed to unsafe amounts of lead and other toxins. As 12 individuals perished from Legionnaires’ illness, thousands of youngsters drank lead-contaminated tap water. The Michigan Civil Rights Commission came to the conclusion that systematic racism was to blame for the tardy government response.

Its Impact in the Environment on a Global Scale

Environmental racism is exacerbated by globalization in places with laxer restrictions, such the Global South, where e-waste is dumped. Almost 44 million tonnes of e-waste were produced in 2017, with 80% of that rubbish being shipped to Asia each year. The water supply in Guiyu, China is contaminated by used computer components, exceeding WHO guidelines for cadmium, copper, and lead by 190 times.

Combating Racism in the Environment

We require action, activism, and education to combat environmental racism. Participate in decision-making with Indigenous and communities of color. Make organizations and governments answerable.

Create laws that safeguard marginalized groups. Speak up, assist neighborhood programs, and lessen your own environmental impact.

Communities of color and Indigenous peoples are disproportionately impacted by environmental racism worldwide. It’s a systemic problem that calls for advocacy, education, and action. Speak up, assist neighborhood-led projects, and lessen your environmental impact to combat it.