dumping in dixie race class and environmental quality pdf

Dumping in dixie race class and environmental quality pdf

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Dumping in dixie: Race, class, and environmental quality

Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality


We mourn the loss of the numerous men and women who have lost their lives at the hands of a violent system because of the color of their skin; we mourn George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and so many more.

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Robert D. Boulder: Routledge, On March 27, the Rev. We dedicate this roundtable to him. The idea of environmental justice is now common currency, both among activists and among environmental historians. Mainstream, formerly largely white-focused environmental advocacy groups have begun to address environmental justice concerns, and environmental justice scholarship now ranges from histories of racism and pollution at sites across the United States to studies of black farm ownership.

Moreover, these scholars hail from different disciplines, which provides a fruitful contrast in perspectives on teaching, researching, and advocating with this book. Kim Smith is a professor of environmental studies and political science at Carleton College. It made good use of the tools available in the s, when the book was being written, and its findings have largely been supported by subsequent studies. Chris Sellers is a professor of history who also received a medical degree, and who teaches at Stony Brook University in New York.

He has more recently looked south, including research on Atlanta and Mexico. As Sellers underscores, Bullard shows how communities of color in particular, and communities targeted for pollution in general, can act against injustice. From my perspective as a historian of the global environment, the US-focused environmental justice scholarship of Bullard, and many others, resonates on a global stage. Take the place that I am most familiar with, Vietnam.

During the s and s, the US and South Vietnamese militaries sprayed, poured, and buried millions of gallons of herbicides on and in the South Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian landscapes. Much of this herbicide was contaminated with dioxin, a toxic molecule and known carcinogen and teratogen. These individuals and communities, especially civilians in South Vietnam, had no choice in whether they were exposed to these toxins.

For example, Dow Chemical and Monsanto, two of the main producers of dioxin-laden herbicides for the US military, were also, as Bullard shows, major contributors to the pollution affecting black communities in the US South.

Not surprisingly, chemical dumping in Vietnam has continued after the end of the Vietnam War. Ha Tinh is a province with high rates of poverty and it returned to global attention in when migrants from the province were among those who tragically died in a truck in the United Kingdom.

Thus the distribution of environmental risk in Vietnam reproduces the environmental injustice seen in the United States, with poor communities and those with less political clout facing the highest risk. As Smith points out, Bullard provided a sort of playbook for resistance against powerful corporate and state interests. His work on black communities in the US South has been, and remains, useful for those concerned about environmental health and social justice everywhere.

For a global history of Agent Orange, see Edwin A. Dumping in Dixie , For newspaper coverage of the Formosa spill, see Richard C. First published in , revised in and , the book is now older than most of my students.

On the contrary, the field is producing ever-more sophisticated and compelling scholarship, ranging from case studies to large-scale quantitative analyses to rich theoretical and historical works. Environmental justice is now a major line of inquiry across the environmental social sciences and humanities. It would be worth reading for its historical importance alone—for its role in giving intellectual credibility to the environmental justice movement.

But the book is also valuable for the way it showcases how sociological research can address environmental problems. For my students, the way the book links social justice with environmental problems through the use of history, case studies, and surveys is revelatory. For most of them, Bullard offers an entirely new angle on the environmental movement. For some of them, this book is the first time they have seen their stories and their communities appear in the environmental studies curriculum.

Of course, focusing on one book and one scholar inevitably distorts our view of the political and scholarly landscape. He is part of a tradition of African American environmental activism that reaches back to the nineteenth-century urban reform and antipollution movements. The goal is to determine whether the host communities have, on average, greater numbers of minority residents than do the non-host communities. As geographers have long recognized, this method can lead to conflicting results depending on how large the unit selected is, and the unit of analysis is not always a good measure of the actual host community especially since many waste facilities are located on the edge of political units such as counties.

Inequalities in Environmental Protection Agency EPA enforcement remains understudied, but the little research there is does not provide much support for racial inequality in this area of federal policy.

Indeed, Bullard himself has helped guide environmental justice scholars toward better spatial analysis strategies, relying on Geographic Information Systems GIS to examine these inequalities. Later research adds complexity and nuance to the causal story; race plays into the story of industrial development in the United States in multiple ways. These dynamics cannot be captured by a simple snapshot of the environmental riskscape.

But it should be noted that Bullard himself recognized that complexity. Rather, this was just one kind of evidence produced in a multimethodological study that drew on historical research about industrialization and political development in the South, along with case studies, interviews, and survey research, to provide a rich exploration of environmental activism in black communities. In other words, he was less interested in documenting the existence of environmental inequalities than in documenting the existence of black environmental activism.

The majority of the book is devoted to the case studies of environmental activism in majority-black communities throughout the American South.

That research was well structured and solidly grounded in the social movement literature, and it too has stood the test of time. This is why I use the book to introduce my students not only to the problem of environmental inequality but to the strategies used by communities to address it—and to study it.

In addition, I like to use the book to study Robert Bullard himself, as a model of a public intellectual doing engaged social research. His research on toxic waste grew out of his involvement as a consultant, workshop leader, and guest speaker in communities fighting hazardous waste facilities.

His scholarship reflects the growth of the field, from a narrow focus on waste to a more comprehensive investigation of the race- and class-inflected environmental impacts of metropolitan development in the United States. Environmental inequality persists; environmental justice remains very much a work in progress. But Bullard helped us to see and name the problem. He demonstrated the variety of ways we can study it, and the wealth of questions we can ask about it.

Most importantly, his scholarship helped to give environmental justice a place on the environmental policy agenda. David M. When it first appeared in , environmental history was still coming into its own as a field of historical study. But in terms of concerns and frameworks, environmental historians and Bullard have had relatively little truck with one another.

In retrospect, the classical status of this book has less to do with far-reaching intellectual impacts on our field than with its role in the historical traditions we study, to which it can now be seen to belong.

In our time, justice talk trips easily off the tongues of many environmental and climate activists and a Green New Deal aspires to tackle not just climate change but a gamut of social inequities. It has become difficult to recall just how separate social justice and environmental activists seemed from one another back when Bullard researched and wrote his first book. One of his chief points was that they only seemed to live in different worlds.

When poorer rural and suburban black communities were targeted by industrial dumpers, for instance, he showed how a preexistent culture of civil rights activism served as springboard to a black environmentalism worlds apart from Muir and his legacy. The build-up of a federal environmental state in the United States increasingly made it possible for environmental officials as well as many more traditional environmental groups to dismiss their objections to hazardous waste sites as not-in-my-backyard- or NIMBY- ism, an all-too-local defense of neighborhood and community that neglected the bigger picture.

Especially since the mids, environmental historians have worked hard to unpack all sorts of episodes like those identified by Bullard. His contribution was academic, sure enough, but his book also actively shaped the evolving identity of a movement itself in the process of gathering steam, whose time, at least in some important senses, had come. While we still attribute environmental justice struggles almost entirely to local activists, as did Bullard, this parallel suggests the import of another, larger development to which these local movements were reacting.

Five years hence, will we be able to look back as Bullard did in in , at countercurrents cresting into a future wave? Citation: Christopher Sellers and Kimberly K.

Review of Bullard, Robert D. H-Envirohealth, H-Net Reviews. April, Notes [1]. Note [1]. Add a Comment. Michigan State University Department of History.

Dumping in dixie: Race, class, and environmental quality

Robert D. Boulder: Routledge, On March 27, the Rev. We dedicate this roundtable to him. The idea of environmental justice is now common currency, both among activists and among environmental historians. Mainstream, formerly largely white-focused environmental advocacy groups have begun to address environmental justice concerns, and environmental justice scholarship now ranges from histories of racism and pollution at sites across the United States to studies of black farm ownership.

Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality

A critical look at the movement for environmental justice When Bill Clinton signed an Executive Order on Environmental Justice in , the phenomenon of environmental racism—the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards, particularly toxic waste dumps and polluting factories, on people of color and low-income communities—gained unprecedented recognition. Behind the President's signature, however, lies a remarkable tale of grassroots activism and political mobilization. Today, thousands of activists in hundreds of locales are fighting for their children, their communities, their quality of life, and their health. From the Ground Up critically examines one of the fastest growing social movements in the United States, the movement for environmental justice.

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Climate change, acid rain, depletion of the ozone layer, species extinction—all of these issues point to one thing: environmental health is a global issue that concerns all nations of the world. Now add environmental justice to the list. From South Bronx to Soweto, from Penang to El Paso, communities all over the world are finding commonality in their experiences and goals in seeking environmental justice. At a global scale, environmental justice can also be applied to scenarios such as industrialized countries exporting their wastes to developing nations.

To my mother, MyrHe Bullard. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any in- formation storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Includes bibliographical references and index.

Upon graduating from college, he served two years in the United States Marine Corps, at an "air control station in North Carolina".

Global Awareness

Environmental justice EJ is understood in many different ways, but all definitions affirm the importance of equitable access to a clean and healthy environment for all people, as well as opportunities for meaningful participation in shaping healthy communities. In the last two decades, the EJ movement has broadened from its early and ongoing struggles against unjust siting of hazardous waste sites in minority communities to seek broad improvements in ecological and socioeconomic conditions in communities, such that all people can achieve their full potential. Contemporary environmental justice struggles involve questions as diverse as land use; access to amenities such as healthful food, green space, dignified housing, and transportation; renewable and job-creating energy policies, and access to opportunities for connection with nature. This represents an opportunity for ecologists in many specialties to support communities in advancing environmental justice, through collaborative research to advance human environmental sustainability, society-wide ecological education, and policy engagement Middendorf et al. To learn more about the EJ movement, we recommend the report by Robert Bullard and colleagues, Toxic wastes and race at twenty: This report contains an excellent overview of the history of the American EJ movement, the current status of environmental injustice in the US, and potential policy responses. It also features essays from a diverse group of people reflecting on the impact of the EJ movement on their life-work and communities in the US and abroad.

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