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Environmental Racism with Dr. Robert Bullard

Audio by: Wangyuxuan Xu | Writing by: Marie Hogan, Amanda Neslund, Alexandra Jade Garcia  | Socials by: Wangyuxuan Xu, Sofia Del Priore

Environmental Justice Movement 

The environmental justice movement began in the 1980s as a grassroots movement by women of color in Warren County, North Carolina who were protesting against a toxic waste site coming to their town. Today the movement is an intergenerational, multi-rational, international cause that has been championed by African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Pacific islanders. 

America’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines the term environmental justice  as the “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” However, the Environmental Justice Movement has broadened the concept of the environment beyond conserved natural areas to environments “where we live, work, play, learn and pray.” Today, the Environmental Justice Movement promotes environmental, economic, and social justice, and the framework of environmental justice can be used to examine the uneven way pollution and other environmental hazards affect communities. 

Doctor Bullard and Environmental Racism 

The Environmental Justice Movement is also closely tied with the concept of environmental racism. Dr. Robert Bullard first defined environmental racism in his 1990 book Dumping in Dixie, which was the first major study of environmental racism that linked hazardous facilities sites with historical patterns of segregation in the South. Doctor Bullard defines environmental racism as “any policy, practice or directive that differentially affects or disadvantages (were intended or unintended) individuals, groups or communities based on race.” Environmental racism builds on the principles of the Environmental Justice Movement and examines how people of color have systematically been targeted for and burdened by negative environmental impacts and hazards. One example of environmental racism in America is how the race of a community, regardless of income, is the number one predictor of where toxic waste sites are located. Today, Bullard is seen as the father of the Environmental Justice Movement, renowned author and advocate for environmental, racial, and climate justice. 

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