Environment, Race, and Socioeconomic Status

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Throughout the quarter, our class has explored how race and socioeconomic status play a role in the environment. One article that our class read that is a good example of how the environment, race, and socioeconomic status interact is Pollution, Poverty, People of Color: The Factory on the Hill by Jane Kay and Cheryl Katz. This article discusses the negative impact the Chevron Richmond Refinery has had on the residents of North Richmond, California.

“It’s the triple whammy of race, poverty, and environment converging nationwide to create communities near pollution sources where nobody else wants to live.”

– Jane Kay and Cheryl Katz

The communities of color in Northern Richmond have been victims to the refinery for over 100 years. Toxic emissions from the Richmond refineries are believed to increase residents risk of heart disease, stroke, and asthma.

This is only one example of environmental racism. Throughout the United States low income and people of color are forced to deal with the consequences of living in a poor environment. I believe that living in a clean, healthy, environment is a right and not a privilege. Regardless of race and socioeconomic status, no one should be subjected to living in an area that is detrimental to their health. In an ideal world refineries and other buildings that negatively affect the environment wouldn’t exist, but I believe that industries that produce toxic emissions should be relocated to areas where people do not live.

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