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12 Nat'l Black L.J. 176 (1990-1993)
Environmental Racism: Race as a Primary Factor in the Selection of Hazardous Waste Sites

handle is hein.journals/natblj12 and id is 188 raw text is: ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM: RACE AS A PRIMARY
Carolyn M. Mitchell
People of color continue to struggle against racial discrimination in edu-
cation, housing, and employment. Recently, the fight against racism has
reached the environmental arena. More grass-roots organizations are develop-
ing in racially integrated, poorer, and less politically influential communities
to prevent waste-treatment facilities, hazardous waste incinerators, hazardous
waste landfills, steel mills and landfills from being placed in their
This paper will address the topic of environmental racism, which is the
practice of placing toxic waste and other environmental hazards at sites in
neighborhoods primarily populated by people of color- African Americans,
Hispanics, Asian Americans and Native Americans. Environmental racism
also refers to the various strategies employed by the dominant environmental
organizations and those utilized in communities inhabited by people of color.1
More specifically, the following will be discussed: (1) the victims of environ-
mental racism and their campaigns against it; (2) industrial polluters' contri-
butions to the destruction of the environment in urban, racially integrated
areas; and (3) legal and social remedies to environmental racism.
The victims of environmental racism- African Americans, Hispanics,
Native Americans and Asian Americans- tend to bear the burden of indus-
trial pollution and receive the least attention from the Environmental Protec-
tion Agency.2 In April 1987, the United Church of Christ's Commission on
Racial Justice released a report, Toxic Wastes and Race in the United
States. The study, which was the first to document the relationship between
hazardous waste sitings and racial demographics,3 indicated that more than 15
million of the nation's 26 million African Americans, and more than 8 million
of the 15 million Hispanics reside in communities with one or more uncon-
trolled toxic-waste sites.4 A brief discussion of the report is necessary to
demonstrate the magnitude of the environmental hazards that people of color
face. The report focuses on (1) the relationship between demographic patterns
1. Panos Institute Releases Publication on Social Justice, Race and Environment, Business Wire,
Dec. 4, 1990.
2. Schneider, Minorities Join to Fight Polluting Neighborhoods, The New York Times, Oct. 25,
1991, at Section A, p. 20, col. 1.
3. Godsil, Remedying Environmental Racism, 90 MICH.L.REV. 394,397 (1991).
4. Russell, Environmental Racism: Minority Communities and Their Battle Against Toxics, The
Amicus Journal, Spring 1989, at p. 24.

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