Researching of Environment Racism


Environmental racism occurs when pollution and the overall deterioration of the global ecosystem have a significantly negative effect on persons of color. The environmental justice movement has fought to promote environmental justice and equity due to environmental racism. “Environmental justice” is a different concept altogether. The government’s response to the demands of the environmental justice issues is ‘environmental equity’. While government organizations like the EPA strive to coopt the movement, they always fail. Their definition of ecological justice came at the expense of what the environmental justice movement stands for (Mohai, 2019). As opposed to simply redistributing damages caused by pollution, environmental justice activists want pollution to be eradicated.

Literature Review

The issue of environmental; racism persists in the global community despite the drastic efforts to reduce the impact of pollution and the related environmental factors on racial and ethnic minorities. Due to its racial makeup, a community’s residents are exposed to toxic and hazardous waste at far higher levels than those experienced by other area residents. This is an example of intentional environmental racism (Mohai, 2019). Racial discrimination against the environment has several roots: willful neglect, urban sprawl, a lack of institutional authority, and the traditionally low land values of people of color. Polluting companies and inadequate control particularly impact low-income communities of color and individuals from poor socioeconomic backgrounds.

Health issues induced by exposure to potentially dangerous chemicals are more common in some sections of the country than elsewhere. The outcomes (health) are severe for example cancer, infant mortality, cardiovascular and diabetes, high emission of carbon dioxide, poor quality of water and lack of proper sanitation contribute to this type of disease. As a result of discriminatory policies and practices, people of color are disproportionately burdened with living close to polluting facilities like sewage treatment plants and coal-fired power plants and landfills and mines that produce hazardous waste. Essentially, this is a form of systemic racism.

The notion of environmental racism might seem to be a weird representation of the issue, yet the title allows embracing the full extent and nature of the adverse effects. Initially coined by Benjamin Chavis in 1982, “environmental racism” refers to instances of racial discrimination in the development of legal environmental standards (Beech, 2020). The specified phenomenon suggests the enforcement and promotion of environmental regulations that affect racial and ethnic minorities (Beech, 2020). For instance, the mid-20th-century situation with the adverse effects that pesticides used on plantations in the South of the U.S. and the manner in which the specified strategy affected local African American communities working on the plantations in question s hired workforce represents an instance of environmental racism (Williams, 2018). In turn, McCall (2019) explained that most of these problems impact lower-income neighborhoods, although race is a more significant indicator of a community’s vulnerability to pollution than its level of wealth.

The race factor seems to be prevalent in determining the affected community hen analyzing the effects of a poorly designed environmental approach. Dr. Robert Bullard’s pioneering 2007 study demonstrated “race to be more critical than socioeconomic position in forecasting the placement of the nation’s commercial hazardous materials facilities” (Bullard et al., 2007, p. 62). There was a five-fold higher risk of lead poisoning in African American children than in Caucasian children. Even Black Americans earning $50,000 to $60,000 a year were more likely than white Americans earning $10,000 to live in polluted areas (Bullard et al., 2007). A government survey found that black British children are up to 30 percent more likely to be exposed to air pollution than white British youngsters (Bullard et al., 2007). The described cases can be seen as instances of uninhibited environmental racism and direct violence against African American people. Indeed, Wright (2021) insists that the outlined problem can be tracked back to the emergence of racism in American society and the perception of African American people, as well as people of color, in general, as exempt from the policies aimed at the betterment of the community and the removal of environmental hazards. Therefore, an immediate change in policy is required. More importantly, a change in the current perception of the needs of people of color in the context of American legislation is strongly required. Thus, positive shifts in policymaking, particularly, environmental policy, may occur.

Lead Astray & Environmental Racism

The dilemma in Flint, Michigan, is one of the most well-known examples of environmental racism. A lack of adequate water treatment resulted in Flint citizens being exposed to hazardous lead levels from aging pipes and other pollutants, including from the infectious bacterium E. coli. Up to 12,000 children were poisoned by lead found in the city’s tap water, and 12 people died from Legionnaires’ disease due to them drinking it (Starovoytova, 2018). It took 18 months to compel the city to reconnect to the previous supply and admit its error after residents complained of bad-smelling and discolored water, hair loss, and skin rashes. Government inaction was deemed by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission to be a result of systematic racism.

For several decades, uranium mining on the Navajo Nation’s land has caused great harm to the people of New Mexico. It is common for individuals to be racist towards people of indigenous descent. Due to weaker land restrictions, firms can dump enormous amounts of nuclear and other hazardous waste on Native American villages while still holding federally owned land in ‘trust’ for Native American tribes. Furthermore, Dombey (2020) explains that the observed injustice occurs at the institutional level. Therefore, the problem of environmental racism appears to be rooted in sociocultural, sociopolitical, and socioeconomic structures that are currently at play in the U.S. community. For this reason, a change in policies that will percolate the specified domains, thus, altering American society’s perception of people of color, particularly African American people, will be needed. The described change can occur once the principles of social justice, namely, the pursuit of equity and the focus on transparency, are established across the community.

Examining the problem further, one should consider the issue of White privilege as one of the core factors contributing to the problem. Specifically, the inability to prioritize the needs of indigenous and ethnically diverse communities lies at the core of some of the issues with addressing environmental racism (Pulido, 2015). As in the Dakota Access Pipeline demonstrations of 2016, the tribes could not withstand the force of policy and were defeated. It was feared that the 1,172-mile oil pipeline would endanger the water supply of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, along with historically significant places and culturally significant burial grounds. Even if the protests were unsuccessful, they sparked public interest and drew the backing of Bernie Sanders. NIMBYism, which stands for “not in my backyard,” is a process by which wealthy white communities try to stop airport expansions, power plant expansions, and landfill expansions in their areas (Starovoytova, 2018). As a result, environmental racism is far more common than one might expect.

Environmental Racism is a Planet-Wide Problem

As a result of globalization; there are now more opportunities for international environmental racism. It is a term used to describe the technique of disposing of hazardous trash, such as e-waste, in less developed countries. Electronic waste amounted to more than 44 million tons in 2017 or 6kg for every person. Roughly 80% of this waste is shipped to Asia annually (Dhillon, 2021). For example, the river in the Chinese village of Guiyu is contaminated with cadmium, copper, and lead from e-waste dumped into the river (Dhillon, 2021). A lead concentration in water samples was 190 times higher than the WHO’s recommended level. Even a minuscule increase in lead levels can harm a child’s IQ and academic performance. In Mexico, for example, anencephaly rates have risen due to the extensive transportation of American batteries to the country, which have been illegally disposed of in Mexico’s garbage dumps (Dhillon, 2021).

“Cancer Valley” in Louisiana

Louisiana’s “Cancer Valley,” a region of land between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, is the subject of a 2021 report that raises worries regarding the industrialization of this area. The research claims that pollution from current developments places local people, primarily the Black community, in danger of cancer and respiratory ailments, among other maladies (Steck et al., 2022). This shows that federal environmental rules are not adequately protecting the inhabitants of the United States.The neighborhood is, nevertheless, still being industrialized by developers. For example, the “Sunshine Project” developer, FG LA LLC, was granted permission to commence construction in 2018. According to current estimates, residents’ cancer risk will be more than treble due to this project. Polyethylene, polypropylene, polymer, and ethylene glycol will all be produced due to this breakthrough.

Environmental racism is currently manifest in the “Cancer Valley” of Louisiana. As a result of the Sunshine Project, an entire parish’s annual carbon dioxide emissions are expected to be more than the combined emissions of 113 different countries (Keehan, 2018). In addition to having immediate repercussions, the development is projected to contribute to climate change and the global plastic waste problem (Keehan, 2018). Human rights are violated in the following ways by industrialization, which puts the majority of the African American people at disproportionately high risk for having health problems:

  • The right to be treated equally and without bias;
  • The right to live;
  • Health care as a fundamental human right;
  • Breathing clean air is a basic human right;
  • The inalienable right to a decent level of life.

Environmental Justice

The term ‘environmental justice’ refers to the set of cultures and values, rules, legislation, practices, policies, and decisions that promote environmental sustainability for all members of society. When environmental racism and unfairness are eliminated, all individuals can reach their full potential, achieving environmental justice. Individual empowerment, quality education, safe and secure employment, affluent living conditions, and affordable health care are all part of environmental justice (McGregor et al., 2020). Cultural and biological variety is respected in an environment of environmental justice, as is fair access to educational opportunities, healthcare, and other resources. Expanding our definition of the environment beyond natural resource conservation and preservation to include “Where we live; work; play; learn, and worship” is the goal of the environmental justice movement.

Principles of Environmental Justice

Several principles for the updated concept of environmental justice must be considered closely. These include the following:

  • A fundamental principle of environmental justice is that the Earth is holy and that all species have an absolute right to be free from ecological damage.
  • To achieve environmental justice, public policy must be built on mutual respect and fairness for all people, without prejudice or bias.
  • Environmental justice necessitates that land and sustainable resources be used in an ethical, equitable, and responsible manner that will ensure the long-term existence of our Earth.
  • Ensuring people’s right to a healthy environment and access to safe nutrition is at the heart of Environmental Justice’s call for a worldwide ban on nuclear testing, hazardous waste manufacturing, and disposal.
  • Political, economic, cultural, and environmental self-determination for everyone is a subject of vital importance.
  • Environmental justice necessitates a complete halt to the production of all toxins, contaminants, and radioactive materials and strict accountability. Equal participation at all levels of decision-making, from needs action plans through formulation and execution and evaluation, is an essential principle of Environmental Justice.
  • All workers should not be forced to choose between working in an unhealthy workplace or losing their jobs because of environmental injustices. Work-at-home workers have a fundamental right to a safe and healthy environment.
  • Protection of victims’ rights to complete restitution and damages compensation and appropriate health care is a critical component of environmental justice.
  • Examples of governments’ environmental inequities violating these principles include international norms, the Charter Of rights, and the Protocol Regarding Genocide (Convention Against Genocide).
  • Indigenous people have a specific relationship with the United States government, which must be recognized by treaties, accords, compacts, and covenants that acknowledge their sovereignty and right to self-determination.
  • Cleanup and redevelopment in rural and urban regions should be done in harmony with the natural environment while respecting each community’s cultural diversity.
  • Following the environmental justice concepts, racial minorities should not be exposed to the testing of experimental procreative and medical therapies and vaccines.
  • Environmental Justice opposes multinational firms’ damaging actions.
  • Economic justice does not accept military invasion, repression, and abuse of resources and cultures, and other creatures.
  • Educating future generations about social and environmental challenges while also considering their different cultural perspectives is essential to ensuring environmental justice.
  • For future generations’ access to a healthy environment, environmental justice demands that each of us do our part to reduce our impact on Mother Earth’s resources, reduce our waste, and make a conscious effort to reconsider our priorities (Kulzer et al., 2021).


At the international level, environmental racism has increased its scale by globalization. Still, through environmental justice (movement), the exposed populations are working to create awareness through pressure from the media, marches, civil disobedience, and academic studies. One of the environmental justice movements aims to raise awareness of disadvantaged populations through conducting academic research, launching media campaigns, and engaging in public involvement. To spread their message, grassroots organizations employ various methods, such as social media and civil disobedience. Romani people are the most commonly singled out for environmental racism. To promote environmental justice, projects such as the Environmental Justice Organizations, Liabilities, and Trade projects have been supported by the European Union (Portway, 2019). Even though environmental restrictions are becoming stricter in developed countries, many people are concerned that waste may end up in underdeveloped countries.

When it comes to building and distributing standard cultural references, the media play a critical role in society, particularly the news media. The media can connect people better to understand one another (Sabyr, 2019). Educate the public, the media have an essential role in exposing the increasing diversity in their societies and audiences. This acts as morale to the participant because they would always mean well as the representatives. More obligations fall under moral and fair rights (Banzhaf et al., 2019). The mechanisms should be evaluated in relation to the matter so that policies that are effective are enacted.


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Bullard, R. D., Mohai, P., Saha, R., & Wright, B. (2008). Toxic wastes and race at twenty: Why race still matters after all of these years. Environmental Law, 38, 371.

Dhillon, J. (2021). Indigenous resistance, planetary dystopia, and the politics of environmental justice. Globalizations, 18(6), 898-911. Web.

Keehan, C. J. (2018). Lessons from cancer alley: How the clean air act has failed to protect public health in Southern Louisiana. Colorado Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law Review., 29, 341. Web.

Kulzer, P. S., Pitman, B., & Young, S. T. (2021). Critical criminology: State‐facilitated corporate crime, environmental racism, and the Atlantic Coast pipeline. The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice, 60(3), 323-342.

McCall, M. (2019). Environmental Racism: The US EPA’s ineffective enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Southern Journal of Policy and Justice, 13, 49.

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Mohai, Paul, and Bunyan Bryant. Environmental racism: Reviewing the evidence. Routledge, 2019.

Portway, S. (2019). Climate justice isn’t sexy: The double failure of sustainable fashion marketing and activism. Fashion, Style & Popular Culture, 6(1), 49-67.

Pulido, L. (2015). Geographies of race and ethnicity 1: White supremacy vs white privilege in environmental racism research. Progress in Human Geography, 39(6), 809-817. Web.

Sabyr, A., Rustemova, G., Koshkinbayeva, A., Bitemirov, K., Bizhanova, A., Medetov, A.,… & Kussainova, L. (2019). The role of international conventions and covenants in achieving economic and environmental justice: A conceptual review. Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues, 22(2), 1-8.

Starovoytova, D. (2018). Solid Waste Management (SWM) at a University Campus (Part 1/10): Comprehensive review on legal framework and background to waste management globally. Journal of Environment and Earth Science, 8(4), 2225-0948.

Steck, S. E., Su, L. J., Antwi, S. O., Morris, B. B., Crawford, B., Adams, S. A.,… & Arab, L. (2022). Recreational and occupational physical activity about prostate cancer aggressiveness: The North Carolina-Louisiana Prostate Cancer Project (PCaP). Cancer Causes & Control, 1-13. Web.

Williams, B. (2018). “That we may live”: Pesticides, plantations, and environmental racism in the United States South. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, 1(1-2), 243-267. Web.

Wright, W. J. (2021). As above, so below: Anti‐Black violence as environmental racism. Antipode, 53(3), 791-809. Web.

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