Monday, February 8, 2021

Samantha Bee, Rachel Maddow, and Vox on environmental racism, including the Flint Water Crisis and 'Cancer Alley'

I'm looking at another pair of stories I tell my students today today, environmental racism, thanks to Samantha Bee uploading Environmental Racism: How It Started vs. How It’s Going last week.

Great news! Joe Biden is signing climate change-based executive orders AND appointing people of color to take the lead on environmental justice for the first time ever. And it's not a moment too soon for communities of color who have been disproportionately suffering the ill effects of corporate greed and environmental racism. It's time to get those resources to the people who need them the most. And also, some f*cking clean water, please.
In addition to this being a good survey of the subject, it includes two examples of environmental racism, the Flint Water Crisis, which I've been blogging about for years, and "Cancer Alley," a location I've never written about before. It's about time I did.

I last updated the Flint Water Crisis in Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and others likely to be charged for roles in Flint Water Crisis. That happened; the State of Michigan charged Snyder and eight others with crimes related to it. Rachel Maddow reviewed the conditions that helped create the crisis in Years Later, Michigan Officials Are Made To Answer For Flint Water Crisis.

Rachel Maddow looks at how former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's suspension of democracy brought about the mistakes that created the Flint toxic water crisis, and only now is Snyder, along with other officials, being held to account for their role in what happened.
Maddow's history goes back 9 years and not only demonstrates how the Republicans in Michigan's legislature along with former Governor Snyder turned Michigan into Ignoreland, but focused their anti-democratic efforts on majority African-American municipalities, showing that the Emergency Manager law had racist effects, if not an outright racist intent. The resulting disregard of local rule allowed the health and environmental disaster of Flint's contaminated water supply to happen. Maddow may not call the Flint Water Crisis environmental racism, but she doesn't have to; it's clear it is.

Now for "Cancer Alley." Vox examined the locale and how racism contributed to it becoming a "zone of sacrifice" earlier this year in One reason why coronavirus hits Black people the hardest.

Toxic air can weaponize the coronavirus.
Across the US, black people are dying from Covid-19 at disproportionately high rates. While there are many different factors at play behind the stark racial disparities — there’s one possible reason that’s been lurking in the air for decades: pollution.

The long history of segregation and housing discrimination has long put black people at greater risk of living near chemical plants, factories and highways, exposing them to higher levels of air pollutants. These pollutants have had a chronically negative impact on health, leading to conditions like hypertension and asthma. Now, those same diseases are associated with severe cases of Covid-19, and showing that where you live can determine whether you survive from Covid-19.
Dr. Robert Bullard, who Vox interviewed for this video, spoke to my environmental science class about his work in fighting environmental racism 13 years ago. I have featured him in my slide show about the politics and economics of the environment ever since. Now I have a video of him to add to that slide show so my current students can see and hear him.

I also tell my students the story of Commoner's Laws. These videos serve as good examples of three of them, "everything must go somewhere," "there is no such thing as a free lunch," and "everything is connected to everything else." The first two laws weave through all three videos, but the last video connecting environmental racism to air pollution to the pandemic serves as a good example of the third law I listed. That's yet another reason to add the Vox video to my presentations. Welcome to blogging as professional development.

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