Environmental racism

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Photograph from 1892 of a pile of American bison skulls in Detroit (MI) waiting to be ground for fertilizer or charcoal. The United States Army encouraged massive hunts of American bison to force Native Americans off their traditional lands and into reservations further west. This is considered an early example of environmental racism.
Panguna copper mine under construction, 1971, in Papua New Guinea The indigenous people from Bougainville Island suffered more than others, from the construction of the mine.
Aftermath of Lago Agrio oil field in Ecuador.. Texaco constructed the oil field, but didn't properly dispose of hazardous waste. In 1993, 30.000 people, from ethnic minorities filed a lawsuit against the company.[1] Additionally, UN experts have said that Afro-Ecuadorians and other people of African descent in Ecuador have faced greater challenges than other groups in accessing clean water, with minimal response from the State.[2]

Many countries make rules to protect the environment. These rules can be laws, guidelines, or regulations. Ideally, these rules affect all groups in society in the same way. When this is not the case, and one group or community is affected more than the others, this is known as environmental racism. As is common with racism, the groups are defined based on race, or skin color; sometimes on income.[3] Very often, all the people decide on these rules. When some groups are excluded from the decision-making process, this is also known as environmental racism.

Benjamin Chavis first used the term, in the 1980s. At the time, he was a leading member of the Civil rights movement in the United States. The movement found that when a new landfill was constructed, minorities such as hispanics and black people were affected more often than the white people. The explanation given was the difference in income - hispanics and black people often earn less than white people. A study of 2007 showed that this explanation is too simple and that there are more complex patterns at play.[4] The study also showed that environmental racism occurs in almost all bigger cities in the United States.

The term was later used to describe the situation in the Niger delta, and in Western New Guinea.

Environmental justice is a term that started about the same time; it focuses more on distributing the benefits and burdens of environmental policies equally in society.

References[change | change source]

  1. Copland, Liesl; Kamen, Jon; Berlinger, Joe. 2009. Crude: The Real Price of Oil; United States. Entendre Films, Red Envelope Entertainment.
  2. "Ecuador: Discrimination and Environmental Racism Against People of African descent Must End, Say UN Experts". United Nations Office of the High Commissioner.
  3. Bullard, Robert (2012-05-04). "The Legacy of American Apartheid and Environmental Racism". Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development. 9 (2).
  4. "Environmental Racism Study Finds Levels Of Inequality Defy Simple Explanation". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 2021-04-11.