DAY 16: Environmental Justice

“The idea of environmental racism is, like all mentions of racism in America, controversial. Even in the age of climate change, many people still view the environment mostly as a set of forces of nature, one that cannot favor or disfavor one group or another. And even those who recognize that the human sphere of influence shapes almost every molecule of the places in which humans live, from the climate to the weather to the air they breathe, are often loathe to concede that racism is a factor.” –Vann R. Newkirk II, journalist, The Atlantic

Despite wanting the best for their families, people with limited means are often less geographically mobile and have fewer affordable choices when deciding where to live. This has led to residents with low incomes, often people of color, living in areas with high rates of air and water pollution – places like industrial areas, near highways or in close proximity to toxic waste sites.
Studies show that Black people are exposed to more environmental pollutants than white people. Pollution and particulate matter exposure are linked to asthma, low birth weights, high blood pressure and other adverse health conditions. This is environmental racism and it is a public health issue.

Environmental racism exists because those with resources – most often non-minority communities – can raise awareness, money, and public attention to ensure that their communities are not impacted, leading to an inequitable distribution of environmental burdens.

TODAY’S CHALLENGE: Do one or more of the following…


Read North Carolina’s Environmental History Is Littered With Racial Injustice to learn how residents have suffered as a result of their proximity to animal feeding operations.
Read the article about the Historic West End to find out how they are fighting pollution with data.


Watch this short video explaining environmental justice.


Listen to Frank Stasio, radio host of The State of Things, North Carolina Public Radio, talk about environmental justice and how it impacts NC's drinking water.


Get involved in environmental justice with organizations like North Carolina Environmental Justice Network or Sierra Club.


Take part in this week's service activity: Shop Online

This week, give virtually by shopping local nonprofits' Amazon Wish List for new children’s books by Black authors or socks, facemasks, hand sanitizer and hats/gloves. Learn more and give back.

Capture what you learned by journaling your thoughts and feelings about today's content. Click below to download a journal page for today.
If you are participating in the Challenge as part of a group, download this free guide to help facilitate discussion.

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