Like so many other things, pollution and environmental destruction disproportionately affect both people of color and the economically disadvantaged. This phenomenon is often referred to as environmental injustice and ties together the concepts of racial/economic privilege with unequal burden of the effects of environmental abuse.
Environmental racism is “the process whereby environmental decisions, actions, and policies result in racial discrimination or the creation of racial advantages.” It is characterized by:
- Increased likelihood of being exposed to environmental hazards,
- Disproportionate negative impacts of environmental processes,
- Disproportionate negative impacts of environmental policies, for example, the differential rate of cleanup of environmental contaminants in communities composed of different racial groups,
- Targeting and siting of noxious facilities in particular communities,
- Environmental blackmail that arises when workers are coerced or forced to choose between hazardous jobs and environmental standards,
- Segregation of ethnic minority workers in dangerous and dirty jobs,
- Lack of access to or inadequate maintenance of environmental amenities such as parks and playgrounds and…
- Inequality in environmental services such as garbage removal and transportation.
A double standard exists when it comes to environmental conditions/practices and what is considered acceptable in a given community. Both low-income neighborhoods and communities of color suffer more health risks due to environmental pollution than their more privileged counterparts. Children of color are 60% more likely to suffer from asthma).