Environmental Racism Zine, Fall 2015

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The Ankh / Fossil Fuel Divestment / Wesleyan Green Fund


What is Environmental Justice? Environmental justice’s roots are in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, but the movement truly began in the late 1980s, when people living in minority, low-income communities started to address the increased rates of asthma, cancer, lung disease, and cardiovascular complications seen in their communities in comparison to others. These disparities were due to higher rates of pollution, less green space, and inadequate access to fresh produce. The Environmental Justice Movement is one that seeks to combat MV^QZWVUMV\IT ZIKQ[U ,MĂ…VML I[ š\PM NIQZ \ZMI\UMV\ IVL UMIVQVON]T involvement of all people regardless of race, color, sex, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies,â€? environmental justice is a movement for communities to mobilize against MV^QZWVUMV\IT XWTQKQM[ \PI\ LQ[XZWXWZ\QWVI\MTa I‍ٺ‏MK\ KMZ\IQV OZW]X[

What is Environmental Racism? -V^QZWVUMV\IT ZIKQ[U Q[ šIVa OW^MZVUMV\ QV[\Q\]\QWVIT WZ QVL][\Za action or failure to act that has a negative environmental impact which disproportionately harms--whether intentionally or unintentionally-individuals, groups, or communities based on race or color.â€? Environmental racism is global. The rules of international free \ZILM XZQWZQ\QbM \PM XZWĂ…\ WN U]T\QVI\QWVIT KWZXWZI\QWV[ Ja M`XMLQ\QVO the extraction of natural resources and labor value, and undercutting environmental protection, wages, human rights, and social welfare in ZMOQWV[ IL^MZ[MTa I‍ٺ‏MK\ML Ja KTQUI\M KPIVOM =VLMZ I OZW_QVO XW_MZ imbalance where less than 1% of the world’s population control 41% of the world’s wealth, while the bottom half own barely 1% of the share, environmental destruction is worsened in the Global South. Homes of

Contributors: Tedra James, Elijah Jimenez, Hailey Broughton-Jones, Victoria King, Abby Cunniff, Xinyu Zhu, Hannah Wilton, Gabrielle Resnick, Maya McDonnell, 2FHDQ *DR &ODLUH )XQGHUEXUN .DĂ€ODK 0XKDPPDG Brian Sing and Kazumi Fish Special Thanks: Wesleyan Fossil Fuel Divestment & Wesleyan Green Fund


the black and brown are experiencing the worst of environmental impact, L]M \W ZM[W]ZKM M`\ZIK\QWV IVL QVL][\ZQIT XZWL]K\QWV <PM =VQ\ML ;\I\M[ is currently complicit in several harmful foreign policies, such as the Kyoto Protocol, which seeks to regulate international carbon emissions but fails to do so at an adequate level, the occupation of Palestine, which \PZQ^M[ W‫ ٺ‬WN LM[\ZWaQVO \PM MKW[a[\MU[ WN 8ITM[\QVM Ja ]XZWW\QVO WTQ^M trees and fragmenting land for illegal settlements, and corporate capitalist development in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Published in October 2014, the Climate Change Vulnerability Index illustrates the risk to over 198 countries from climate change. There are estimates that high and medium-risk regions could experience up to a 50% decline in food staples such as rice, maize, and wheat. While many regions are already experiencing severe drought lasting multiple seasons, W\PMZ[ IZM M`XMZQMVKQVO [M^MZM ÆWWLQVO 6W\M \PI\ VW\ I [QVOTM I‫]ټ‬MV\ KW]V\Za WN \PM /TWJIT 6WZ\P Q[ I\ UMLQ]U WZ PQOP ZQ[S NZWU \PM M‫ٺ‬MK\[ WN KTQUI\M KPIVOM aM\ []KP countries are the ones producing the most greenhouse gas emissions that catalyze these processes. Other risks these countries will face are increased political unrest, negative impacts on both water supply and quality, and altering of their ecosystems, including a decrease in biodiversity.


š?PQ\M MV^QZWVUMV\ITQ[\[ \ITS IJW]\ [I^QVO \PM rainforests, but no mention is ever made of saving the lives of those who dwell in America’s concrete jungles.â€? -Bryan K. Bullock, Civil Rights Attorney Environmental Waste in Urban Communities Toxic waste exposure has been linked to infertility rates, cancer and heart failure. From coal plants to nuclear waste sites, black and brown communities have been disproportionately exposed to life-threatening KPMUQKIT[ <PZMM W]\ WN M^MZa Ă…^M *TIKS IVL 0Q[XIVQK )UMZQKIV[ TQ^M near uncontrolled toxic waste sites. Additionally, three of the largest toxic _I[\M [Q\M[ IKKW]V\QVO NWZ WN = ;Âź[ PIbIZLW][ _I[\M TIVLĂ…TT[ IZM located in predominantly black neighborhoods.

:( &$1¡7 %5($7+( Although other sources of systemic discrimination (such as lack of access to quality health care or nutritious foods) contribute to the prevalence of respiratory issues in predominantly POC neighborhoods, high exposure to air pollutants (such as ozone, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide) has been linked to an increase in asthma cases, which is particularly relevant JMKI][M XMWXTM WN KWTWZ QV \PM =VQ\ML ;\I\M[ JZMI\PM IQZ _Q\P I higher concentration of nitrogen dioxide than white people do.

Bronx Asthma Crisis The Bronx is the only connection from NYC to the mainland, and thus Q\ PI[ WVM WN \PM PQOPM[\ ^MPQK]TIZ \ZI‍ٝ‏K ^WT]UM[ QV \PM VI\QWV ZM[]T\QVO in large concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in the air. Noting this, the Bronx, where the population is over 80% black and hispanic, has an asthma rate four times higher than the national average, leading to an asthma death rate three times that of the rest of the nation.


#IndigenousLivesMatter - Keystone XL Pipeline The Keystone XL pipeline is a proposed 1,179-mile long pipeline segment connecting tar sand reserves in Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska. The XL pipeline is a part of the larger Keystone pipeline sys\MU KWV[\Z]K\ML I[ I KPMIX IVL M‫ٻ‬KQMV\ UWLM WN \ZIV[XWZ\I\QWV NWZ \IZ [IVL WQT \W ZMÅVMZQM[ WV \PM /]TN +WI[\ Many people are skeptical as to whether the possible prospect of creating jobs outweighs the environmental risks that come with the pipeline. The transporting of these tar sand oils will release large amounts of sulfur, heavy metals, and other toxic pollutants. Furthermore, the project UIa QVKZMI[M = ; LMXMVLMVKM WV NW[[QT N]MT[ IVL PMQOP\MV \PM ZQ[S WN leaks and spills as the oil is being transported. Moreover, the current proposed extension of the Keystone pipeline cuts through six states and crosses over the Ogallala Aquifer: an underground pool stretching from South Dakota to Texas which is a water resource for millions. The pipeline threatens culturally sacred Native American land and their water source. Any leak from the pipeline will severely pollute the Ogallala Aquifer and ruin the tap water available to inhabitants of these areas.


In resistance, indigenous tribes have organized a myriad of direct actions in protest of the Keystone pipeline. On July 26th, 2015, a coaltition of native and non-native leaders led a resistance ride and protest march across the Missouri River bridge in South Dakota. This collective resistance was in response to South Dakota’s approval of the Keystone XL permit. On Rosebud Sioux tribal land in central South Dakota, seven tribes have also created a camp of resistance in which individuals live year round in protest. Other members of the tribes in the Great Sioux Nation tribe continue to camp in the proposed path of the pipeline. Native American activists have demonstrated at Capitol Hill and occupied the offices of senators who support the pipeline. The Keystone XL pipeline is a blatant disregard for indigenous people’s lives. This is one of many projects through which black and brown bodies are sacrificed for the insatiable capitalist appetite of the United States.

Hurricane Katrina Natural catastrophes, such as 2005’s Hurricane Katrina that hit Coastal Mississippi and New Orleans, clearly display the role that systemic neglect plays in the oppression of brown and black bodies. Households belonging to black and brown families sustained the vast UIRWZQ\a WN PMI^a LIUIOM[ 0]OM LQ[XIZQ\QM[ QV ÆWWL LIUIOM[ JM\_MMV the homes of people of color and white homes can be attributed to factors such as black homes being found in lower-elevated and more exposed neighborhoods, white homes having greater access to transportation, and white neighborhoods being subject to less intrusive developments (overhead highways or industrial canals) that contribute to existing disparities in urban infrastructure. <PM M‫ٺ‬MK\[ WN \W`QK _I[\M _MZM IT[W LQ[XZWXWZ\QWVI\MTa NMT\ Ja minority groups, as relatively more hazardous material sites (National 8ZQWZQ\QM[ 4Q[\ [Q\M[ <W\IT :MTMI[M 1V^MV\WZa ;Q\M[ IVL TIVLÅTT[ IZM located in black and brown neighborhoods. The majority of people _PW LQL VW\ ZMKMQ^M []‫ٻ‬KQMV\ IQL _MZM JTIKS ZM[QLMV\[ 5IVa _MZM TMN\ stranded on their rooftops and in the Superbowl stadium without the JI[QK VMKM[[Q\QM[ IVL _MZM []J[MY]MV\Ta ¹KITTML »TWW\MZ[ _PMV \PMa \WWS UI\\MZ[ QV\W \PMQZ W_V PIVL[ TIJMTML »ZMN]OMM[¼ QV \PMQZ W_V KW]V\Za# and who were shot by both vigilantes and cops on the streets of their city.” Hurricane Katrina and the nakedness at which systemic racism showed itself during is not unique, but rather a recurring trend in natural disasters all over the globe.


Environmental Justice Campaigns • • • • • • •

Anti-toxic product campaigns Shutting down of coal plants Fair and equitable public transportation Food justice and food sovereignty campaigns Educational campaigns on environmental racism and environmental justice Divestment from fossil fuel companies Reinvestment in alternative energy and communities

Movements and Actions to be Taken <PM KTQUI\M UW^MUMV\ VMML[ \W ZMKWOVQbM \PI\ _M KIVVW\ ÅOP\ KTQUI\M KPIVOM _Q\PW]\ [QU]T\IVMW][Ta ÅOP\QVO ZIKQIT QVR][\QKM +TQUI\M change is not a scary mistake, but the by-product of the fossil fuel-based, capitalist power system that disproportionately burdens people of color. As a movement, we need to understand climate change in terms of human rights and recognize that, though we’re all impacted by climate change, we’re not impacted equally. We also need to recognize that while some parts of the movement have moved in this direction, many environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, promote green and tech-based solutions (e.g. solar panels, geothermal energy) that ignore system-wide injustices. Consequently, these groups actively perpetuate the creation and unequal distribution of climate issues. As we begin to achieve system change that addresses the climate crisis, we have to dually advocate for the transfer of governance and autonomy back to communities to manage their own forms of energy production. We must create a movement that centers around the marginalized and silenced communities, whose cultures and livelihoods are most threatened by the M‫ٺ‬MK\[ WN KTQUI\M KPIVOM <PQ[ UMIV[ \W LMUIVL I UWZM R][\ [][\IQVIJTM _WZTL J]QT\ WV OTWJIT [WTQLIZQ\a IVL OZI[[ZWW\[ XW_MZ ?M IZM KWVÅLMV\ that if we use our voices and privilege as students at Wesleyan to help empower and prioritize victims of environmental racism, we can create a sustainable, safe, and just world for all.


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