Environmental Racism and its Effect On Communities

Action without vision is only passing time,
vision without action is merely day dreaming,
but vision with action can change the world.

Nelson Mandela

In keeping with the broader conversation surrounding structural discrimination, we felt it apt to highlight other forms of structural discrimination on the historically disadvantaged. In this instance, we aim to be a part of sparking a wider discussion around how discrimination in environmental policy making has been a lived reality for many African-American and other minority communities worldwide.

NSI supports the creation of socially equitable conditions for communities affected by environmental issues and structured discrimination through sustainability. In some countries, we have consistently liaised with local business and politicians in order to raise awareness, as well as contribute to conversations and sustainable initiatives prioritizing the sufficient protection of these communities from environmental waste. We believe it is important, where possible, to work with both the public and private sector and measure economic interests against common incentives for affected communities as a whole. We are passionate about seeing these projects develop sustainably due to participation from each sector of society.

We are actively working on making a positive change on issues disproportionately affecting minority communities, due to legacies of discriminatory special planning, racial segregation etc. Many of these communities are routinely earmarked for sites of waste disposal in the global waste trade, or are allocated to reside along harmful industrial plants, causing them impact at a micro-level. Thus, the concept of racial discrimination in environmental policy making a lived reality for many African-American communities in almost every major city across the USA, such as Flint, Michigan and New Orleans, and across minority communities globally. The larger environmental justice movement referred to this term as environmental racism highlighting how communities of color in the US regularly do not receive the same protections as predominantly white or privileged. Some examples of these protections would be access to clean drinking water, safe living conditions, clean air, adequate transportation, healthy food, access to quality education, and so forth.

In order to help identify environmental racism in your community, ask yourself these questions:

  • Which areas lack access to things such as: grocery store, pharmacy, transportation, employment?
  • Which communities reside near waste water treatment plants, landfills, refineries, etc.?
  • In what part of town are the best and worst schools located?
  • What areas experience disproportionate levels of certain health defects, such as asthma?

These examples so often are hard realities for black and minority communities. For more extensive reading between the links between racism and the environment, the New York Times has released a recommendation article highlighting articles, essays, and books that thoroughly cover the topic.