Week 9-Blog 7
Urban Sociology 327
In the textbook, there is very little information about climate change or how it affects specific cities or racial groups. First, I looked at the index to see certain words like climate change, environmental racism and global warming. It was surprising that these words were missing and there were no chapters that focused on them. I had to extrapolate and narrow my focus to certain cities. I chose New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. Even with focusing on these specific topics, it only had a few references. An example of this is on page one hundred and fifty-two in our book which mentions Katrina. It states that it mostly affected the African American population who lived in the poorer sections of the city. These areas were below the sea level. It was not just one race that was affected by this tragedy. The Vietnamese population were also affected in the same area. Without all the other readings, I feel that this would have been a very narrow view of all the problems in New Orleans. Plus, there should be more discussion on how environmental racism continues to affect areas of New Orleans after Katrina.
Other chapters of the book did talk about how environmental racism affects certain American minorities. These groups were generally living in poorer sections of the cities with an inferior infrastructure. This makes these areas much more susceptible to natural disasters. The government would need to invest more money in areas that are already suffering. In the book, they discuss the different areas of the four cities that we have been studying and how climate change can have devastating effects. The book talks about all these different areas but does not really do a deep dive on all the aspects.
My conclusion is that if you are looking for information about environmental racism and climate change, you will get some information. I don’t feel that any book can be the one source of truth on every subject, but I do feel that there could have been more information. I also felt that this book did not have a clear layout of information. I often felt that I was reading some of the same information from previous chapters. I feel that the different reading that have been assigned in this class would be enough without the use of this textbook. Most of the reading were much more up to date than what was written in the textbook.
Social media has become an increasing important topic on our culture and how information is shared. The Flint crisis happened in 2014 but it didn’t get national attention until people started posting it on social media. It is impossible not to be moved by pictures of dirty water coming from sinks and water bottles filled with sludge. People who have never heard of this town became very interested in their crisis. The boom of social media makes it impossible for this type of crisis to be ignored. These posts on social media was picked up by a major news network which helped to amplify the crisis to everyone. The news seems to have evolved from breaking a news story to reporting stories from social media. This was an example of how social media can be helpful to address problems.
Unfortunately, it has its goods points and its bad points. It can be very negative if someone’s opinion can influence others and it becomes a mob mentality. We live in a world where people feel free to express their opinions and others quickly jump on the bandwagon. Some of these opinions have very little context or actual sources. It is based on the emotions of the people who are posting. Misinformation is a common occurrence because people don’t want to take the time to truly research the idea. I think if people are easily swayed by emotions, social media can be a problem. I used #Environmental Racism and #Flint Water Crises on both Twitter and Instagram. The water situation in Flint is a prime example of environmental racism.
- Environmental justice is the promotion of laws and regulations to protect the environment with a focus on minority issues. Environmental racism is the opposite of the environmental justice. This is when a minority group is at risk because of where they live without the protection of regulations for clean air and water.
- Concrete facts about environmental racism
- African American communities have a higher exposure rates to air pollution than their white counterparts.
- Lead poisoning mostly affects children of color.
- African Americans are seventy-five percent more likely to live near a chemical plant.
- African Americans are twice as likely to live near a landfill than Caucasians
- African Americans are eighty percent more likely to live in a flood zone.
- Majora Carter said that her community was the canary in the coal mine for environmental justice. She talked about how her community handled more waste and pollutants than any other small community and they shouldn’t have to deal with everyone else’s waste. I feel that no one should be treated as if they were less than others. The canaries were not important in the coal mine expect to protect the miners. We should not treat anyone as if their community is a dumping ground for our trash. Everyone should have the same rights to clean air.
- Robert Moses was a major designer of New York City. He was openly racist, and he designed the city to prevent the African Americans from crossing certain city boundaries. An example of this is his low bridge overpass which prevents buses from going through the city limits. This prevented poor people from going to the Long Island beaches. He made sure parks were far away from the poorer areas and in the richer neighborhoods. His designs are still having an effect today. The poorer areas of New York City continue to suffer from traffic and a lack of public parks.
- The Flint Water Crisis changed when the city decided to save money by pumping the water through lead pipes. These pipes have a high concentration of lead and have caused rashes, hair loss and sickness. This decision was done by an emergency manager appointed by Michigan’s governor Rick Snyder to cut costs. Many of the residents complained and the water was examined by Virginia Tech. They discovered that there was a dangerous level of lead in the water. When the residents complained to the EPA, it was ignored. It took a court order to force the state to give the residents bottled water. The reason that this problem was ignored was due to racism according to Michigan’s Civil Rights Commissioner. Flint is a very poor community and the city couldn’t afford basic utilities. The stories of the people made it more important because these are real people not actors. This continues to be a problem and I personally would not drink any of the water in Flint, Michigan.
- In New York City, the African Americans make up only twenty-five percent of the population. The African American community processes up to seventy percent of the sewage sludge. In the article, “Sewage Overflows: Untreated Problem in New York Waterways”, it would take over five billion dollars to fix the problem. (https://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/local/watchdog/2019/01/31) In New Orleans, it has an African American population of sixty percent. Unfortunately, eighty percent of the destruction by hurricane Katrina affected them. The Urban League of Greater New Orleans wrote their findings in “State of Black New Orleans: 10 Years Post Katrina” (http://www.urbanleagueneworleans.org/ul/wp.)
The most important thing about the climate change is the effect that it has on people. Global warming is not a myth. Storms are stronger and have a far-reaching effect on all of us. It is important that we don’t think of it as something that can’t happen to us. Environmental regulations have been too slow in coming and we need to know that the need is now. It should not matter whether you are a minority or not. Everyone should have the same rights to clean air and safety against flooding. Of course, we don’t have control over the weather, but we need to be wise in what we do to protect our cities against hurricanes and flooding. We must understand that environmental racism is real and there needs to be actions to protect those affected by this.