The Right To A Healthy Environment

1470 words - 6 pages

The topic of environmental racism was first introduced to me during an Ethnic Lecture Series at UW-Parkside in 2013. Environmental racism is the placement of low-income or minority communities that are affected by hazardous chemicals. Furthermore, people of color are more likely to reside in areas with increased exposure to air, water, and land pollution, hazardous waste treatment facilities, pesticide and chemical exposure, and geographic or residential isolation. I found it very troubling how often this is occurring in the United States. Social justice needs to be available for people living in areas where environmental racism affects their community. The United States needs to make changes in order to protect communities that are being negatively impacted by environmental racism. Environmental racism can be significantly decreased if there is an elimination of residential segregation, structural racism, and installation of regulations.
There is a direct correlation with hazardous waste land and ethnic communities. Environmental racism has multiple causes that are responsible for its creation. It first began through direct racism, which was the foundation for racist policies. Eventually, this is what created all white communities, because there was a push to keep minority groups out of sight and out of mind. This is what is described as residential segregation. Minority groups were forced into unfavorable areas where no one else wanted to reside. And this is still being continued today. It began with laws from our government that have made the battle against environmental racism even more difficult. As the United States admitted in its 2000 Periodic Report, “For many years, the federal government itself was responsible for promoting racial discrimination in housing and residential segregation. Beginning in 1934, the federal government, through the Federal Housing Administration’s mortgage insurance programs, transformed the American housing market from one that was essentially inaccessible to people outside the upper-middle and upper classes to a broadbased one—but for whites only ("Initial Report of the United States of America to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, para 24). The federal government and public housing policies created and endorsed racial segregation. This has significantly contributed to environmental racism.
In addition to residential segregation, industries also cause structural racism. Industries located near residential segregated areas specifically have low regulations to use the land as cheap waste areas to dump hazardous chemicals, garbage, and other dangerous substances. This affects the land, water, and air in these neighborhoods. According to the Unites States Environmental Protection Agency, chemical exposure can lead to impaired respiratory systems and damage to lung tissue, reproductive disorders, neurological impairments such as seizure, mental or behavioral disorders,...

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