In Response to Sarah Bracy’s “The Connection Between Rocks and Social Justice”

The Connection Between Rocks and Social Justice: First and foremost, this blog post is very insightful and beautifully written. It’s important to have an answer to the questions “Why should people who care about rocks care about social justice?” and visa versa because it connects two otherwise distinct ideas into one. I honestly love how Sarah introduced the concept of Environmental Racism because it is a prime example of how rocks and social justice intertwine. As she states, “Environmental racism is the inability of low-income and/or marginalized groups of people, generally racial and ethnic minorities, to leave a situation in which they are at risk of environmental hazards, often because of socioeconomic status.” This is prevalent to people of color in the United States.

According to The Nation magazine, 56% of the population near toxic waste sites are people of color. Of those communities, 95% of their claims against polluters have been denied by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Additionally, people of color are twice more likely to live without potable water and modern sanitation. This has a simple explanation: Race is the most significant predictor of a person living near contaminated air, water, or soil. As Sarah mentioned, The Flint Crisis is a perfect example of environmental racism. It’s where 100,000 residents have been poisoned with toxic water contaminated by high levels of lead. Important factors in this case include the fact that Flint is around 57% black with 40% if its population living in poverty. Although residents protested the dirty water for over a year, they were blatantly ignored by government officials. This is because minority communities have much less political power so regulatos can and often do ignore them.

And, as CNN reports, just a couple of miles from Flint is Detroit, MI, where 83% of the population is black. Because the city is heavily surrounded by a lot of industry like salt mining, steel production, oil refining, and coal burning, 1.6 million pounds of chemicals enter that community yearly. Making it home to the most polluted ZIP code (48217) in the state.

Going back to Sarah’s blog, her connection between Environmental Racism and Jemisin’s work was really impressive. It is true that the a comm closer to a fault line may be more prone to seismic activity just like an apartment near a landfill is cheaper than one located in the safer part of town. But, that is just the conditions certain groups of people are forced to accept and adapt to. Although I may not have a clear answer to the question Sarah proposed, I am one step closer to understanding why it is important to care about both interchangeably.

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