A Question of Environmental Racism

The attached story refers to Flint Michigan, where state and local officials chose to pay for tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations by subjecting its primarily poor and black residents to unsafe drinking water.  But this issue is much bigger than Flint.  All over the US and all over the world, we have been committing both small and large acts of environmental racism.  For years, we have used the neighborhoods of the dis-enfranchised and nations of less political power as our dumping grounds for toxic and environmental waste.  We have displaced and enslaved millions of indigenous peoples to claim and exploit their natural resources.  We have short-changed entire areas like the parishes hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina through insufficient investment in safety.  Some of the worst effects of climate change, including flooding, water scarcity, and and food shortages will hit the world’s poor and people of color the most.  Flint is just the tip of the iceberg and while Governor Rick Synder is the villain of the week, to focus on just him belies that this is standard behavior.  Externalities of traditional capitalist policy need to be recognized and addressed, and owners of capital are best positioned to direct these changes.


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