Chapter 11: Making Visible the Invisible: Environmental Racism by Gail Gunst Heffner

(Photo courtesy of Gail Gunst Heffner)

An illustrated companion to Chapter 11 of Beyond Stewardship: New Approaches to Creation Care. To view main webpage, click here:

"As we were walking, we rounded a bend to see two people fishing! ...In that moment, I made a number of assumptions. I assumed this pair lived near the creek because they were African American and African American communities are prevalent in this part of the city. I assumed they were low-income because the man was fishing rather than working on a weekday. And I assumed they did not know the creek was contaminated with high levels of E. coli and other bacterial pollutants."
Plaster Creek, "the most contaminated urban waterway in West Michigan." (Photo courtesy of Gail Gunst Heffner)
"Numerous research findings have documented that, in the United States, people of color and those in economically impoverished communities are exposed to greater environmental hazards in their homes, in their neighborhoods, and in their workplaces."
Trash being transported down the river in Manhattan
"Land use patterns and policy-making are often tools of systemic racism, and they can produce racial and environmental inequality. When siting a landfill, city planners often choose land that is less expensive and less desirable—often land that is closer to where people of color live."
"DC Trash Transfer Stations" by Mike Ewall, www.energyjustice.net/content/dcs-waste-and-environmental-racism
"Environmental racism is twofold—the unequal protection against environmental harm and the exclusion of people of color from environmental decisions affecting their communities."

To read about how several communities are affected by nearby landfills, click the following links:

"In Michigan, people of color are providing leadership to confront lead poisoning, an explicit example of environmental racism in their communities."
Although the percentage of children with high blood lead levels is dropping, colored children are still unequally affected by dangerously high lead levels.

To learn more about Parents For Healthy Homes and their fight for safe homes and healthy living conditions, click on the following link to their website:

"Plaster Creek Stewards, working to return health and beauty to a highly degraded urban waterway, created the Green Team to introduce urban youth to environmental problems in their watershed through educational sessions and hands-on experience."
The Green Team and Plaster Creek (Photos courtesy of Gail Gunst Heffner)
"Christians interested in the work of reconciliation—reconciling people to God, to each other, and to the earth— need to develop eyes to see what environmental racism has done, the honesty to lament its damage, the humility to learn from leaders of color, and the courage to collaborate in reimagining a way forward that brings healing and restoration for all the creation."

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