Environmental Racism is Real!

Throughout the semester, I learned a lot about the South. In the beginning I felt I knew the basics, but then realized that what I thought I knew wasn’t even true. This class has been by far the most interesting of my entire college career, besides psychology. But, out of everything we discussed, environmental racism sticks with me the most for some reason. Maybe because I had never thought about it before, but people actually target the neighborhoods of minorities to dump waste in. We, people of color, are targeted when it comes to pollution, chemical waste dumps, and big agricultural businesses such as hog farms. Now, it’s not just people of color that are affected, poor white people are affected to. It’s not just about race either, it has a lot to do with where you live.

“Dumping in Dixie” explains how you may be predisposed because you are a person of color, you are poor, and/or you live in a rural place. Southern areas, like Southwest Memphis, are disproportionally affected. I was intrigued by this discovery because I live 10 minutes away from this area, but never really realized the harm that it’s doing. In Southwest Memphis there are factories that continue to pollute the air that I’m breathing! It’s crazy. But, it affects the Native Americans who live close by even worse. There are chemical and nuclear waste dumps affecting their air quality tremendously, which in turn is affecting their health tremendously.

I was really interested in this subject so I decided to do some research. I found this website called dosomething.org, which has a list of facts about environmental racism. I’ll only cover a few that I think is really important to know. For instance, “African Americans are 79% more likely than whites to live in neighborhoods where industrial pollution is suspected of causing the greatest health dangers.” Another fact is that “existing laws and land-use controls have not been adequately applied in order to reduce health risks for those living in or near toxic hot spots”. Like I mentioned earlier referring to the Native Americans in the Southwest Memphis area, it has been proven that “poverty-stricken Native American communities face some of the worst toxic pollution problems in the country.” Last but not least, the statement that really caught my attention was that “children of color who live in poor areas are more likely to attend schools filled with asbestos, live in homes with peeling lead paint, and play in parks that are contaminated.” All of this is because of the disproportionally distributed amount of environmental racism.

I’m glad I’m better educated on this subject because it affects so many people around the world. Many people don’t understand the value in a safe, clean environment. Because of toxic waste and big agricultural businesses that are right next door to us or right in our backyards, we can experience major health issues. For example, let’s pretend that a hog farm was built right next to my home. Those pigs poop, mate, and whatever else on that land. I have a garden in my backyard where I’ve been growing my vegetables for years. The pigs next door, more than likely, have compromised my health because the vegetables I grow and eat are possibly contaminated now. Ain’t no telling what’s in my tomatoes and cucumbers. It’s a shame, and that’s why we have to fight. We have to fight to save our communities, as well as fight to save our lives because these factories and farms aren’t doing anything but causing more problems for us. Think about it!