Environmental Racism

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In order to produce things that we use and need, it sometimes causes hazardous waste. To keep people safe and happy, there have to be places where this waste can be dumped. Sadly, the places chosen are most often poorer areas populated by minorities, chosen for just that. This is called environmental racism.

Environmental racism was coined in 1982 by Benjamin Chavis, the director of the United Church of Christ. He first began thinking of this as environmental racism because of the PCB waste that was dumped in Warren County, North Carolina. The attention that had been focused on this even made people start to realize a connection between where hazardous waste is dumped and the people that live there.

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Environmental racism is defined as, “the term used to describe the higher incidents of environmental threats and subsequent health problems in lower income communities, which are commonly dominated by people of color.” (American Democracy Now, pg. 537) In other words, it is deciding to dump hazardous waste in poorer communities, lowering their property value and quality of life. This is because people in these areas don’t have the funds to put towards keeping waste out of their communities, nor do they have political connections to provide them with the power to keep it out. Cost-benefit analysis also plays a role in where waste is put. This is the analysis of a planned project and all its monetary costs to the benefit it brings to the area in terms of dollar amounts. All of these things are what make the minorities in these poorer areas most challenged by this policy.

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