Monday, February 15, 2016

"Beyond Flint: Poor Blacks, Latinos Endure Oversized Burden Of America’s Industrial Waste And Hazards" Article and Discussion- Reflection

The article about which the B & P Fellows discussed during our last meeting really opened my eyes to the interconnectedness of a few of the issues we see in current news today.

 It is a known fact that often times, when it comes to living spaces in the U.S., racial minority groups are much more likely to be exposed to environmental hazards. A major example of this that is currently being highlighted in the news is the Flint water crisis. Flint officials, in an attempt to save funds, decided to begin drawing the town’s water supply from the Flint River, which was heavily contaminated and polluted. Prior to this, water had been coming from a supplier in Detroit who took the correct measures in ridding the water of contamination. This meant that for a long time, the town’s residents were drinking, bathing in, and cooking with water with dangerous levels of lead and E. coli.

A major aspect of the entire situation that really stood out to me was the fact that such an occurrence would never be seen in richer, suburban towns.   Looking into both the Flint crisis and the situation with the English Station right here in CT (and in fact, just minutes away from the Peabody) has introduced me to the phrase “environmental racism”, which is clearly present not only in these two areas but also in less-wealthy, urban communities all over the nation (whether or not it may be necessarily intentional). The worst part about it is the fact that no one really says anything about it until it is too late- Flint’s children and other residents are now suffering from hair loss, vision loss, depression, and a number of other complications. I believe that everyone is entitled to access to clean water, especially when they are paying monthly bills for it.

Similarly, the English Station has still not been cleaned up after many years, even though it has been named a brownfield site and is known to be contaminated with PCB’s, which cause cancer. We all  have schoolmates who live in the area, and knowing that the problem is so close to home is, needless to say, very worrying.  These two issues- the Flint Water Crisis and the failure to deal with the English Station- show that often times, the right voices aren’t being listened to by the right people.

One thing, however, that has been very inspiring to me is the role that young people have taken recently in speaking out against the issue. Social media is often times the biggest weapon that the youth can use to get our voices heard. All over the internet, you can see blogs being written, GoFundMe pages being started to raise money for Flint residents, and teens using sites such as Twitter and Facebook to voice their opinions. This has definitely opened the eyes of the people in charge, which shows that a difference actually can be made if enough people are encouraged to participate and speak out about the injustices we see around us. That is part of what we are here for; to educate the community on issues that many may not know about, so that the right actions can be taken to prevent or alleviate them.

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