Essay on America Needs Environmental Equity

3510 Words 15 Pages

"...We live in a breakable takeable world, an ever available possible worldÖ" These words, by poet and singer-songwriter Ani Difranco, articulate the relationship between the environment and its inhabitants. Society is constantly manipulating the environment. Our capacity for changing the environment is kept in check by the destructible aspect of nature. The changes we make, those advancements in technology, are limited. While the industrial revolution, per say, is over, industry is ever expanding, moving us into a faster, more efficient lifestyle. However, efficiency and advanced technology are not without their price, and that fee, even more so than monetary in nature, is more accurately quantified by an increased
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Instead, the white middle and upper class people have abused the power they have in the form of environmental racism.

We take for granted, in the United States of America, that we are safe in our homes. At least, this is likely the perspective of the middle-class, white majority citizens, and in good reason. White middle-class people are, for the most part, not personally confronted by environmental risks. However, members of the ethnic minority and lower socio-economic class deal with issues of health and safety, as the environment, daily influences them. In 1987 Reverend Benjamin Chavis, Jr. coined the term "environmental racism" to describe the phenomena of the existence of racial inequalities as related to living conditions. Chavis defines environmental racism as:

ÖRacial discrimination in environmental policymaking, the enforcement of regulations and laws, the deliberate targeting of communities of color for toxic waste facilities, the official sanctioning of the life-threatening presence of poisons and pollutants in our communities, and the history of excluding people of color from leadership of the environmental movement." (Bullard 1994)

Environmental racism is not a modern manifestation; it has been documented since the early 20th century, and could be argued to

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