Group Title: Olasee Davis articles
Title: Environmental racism alive in V.I
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/CA01300919/00119
 Material Information
Title: Environmental racism alive in V.I
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Davis, Olasee
Publication Date: April 19, 1996
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Bibliographic ID: CA01300919
Volume ID: VID00119
Source Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Holding Location: University of the Virgin Islands
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Fridssy. April 19. 1996


21 Environment


Environmental racism


Many people of the Virgin
Islands have probably experienced
some form of discrimination n their
lives. An environmental revolution
shaping our cory seeks to erdi-
cate oe form of discrimination,
known as "environmental racism."
This new movement links
human rights and the environment.
Even though the U.S. Coenina-
lion was crated to allow ie pursuit
of liberty andustice for all, the sys-
tem doesn't work te way it should
for all people. Racism is still a seri
ous problem, and environmemnal
racism isone frmof ha problem.
Millions of Native Americans,
Hispanics, Asians, African Ameri-
cam and other minority groups are
trapped in polluted environments
because of their race and color.
These communities ar exposed to
real heah risks than lhe genmal
populti of this counry.
It is clear that all Americans do
not have the same oppomunities o
drink clean water, enjoy clean
ecreation facilities, brealbe clean
air, or work in a safe and clean
enviomment. This ineqlity foams
the basis of envirmmental racism.
The term environmental racism
was coined in 1982. In Warren
County, North Carolina, 500 citi-
zens from a poor community of
mostly African Americas began a
protest when country officials
selected tho area for a PCB landfI
This county was not elected for
any special evironmetal reason.
but because the people seemed
powerless to resist the dumping of
clhmicals te. In America, people
of color in rual andl arbal ai e
the most likely victims of indsrial
dumping, uranium mining, toxic
landfills ad dagerous chemical
The Rev. Benjamin F. Cvis Jr.
defined the problem by stating,


Olasee
Davis
Our
-


"Environmeoal racism is racial dis-
crimination in environment policy
making. It is racial discrimination
in the enforcement of regulation
and laws. It is racial discrimination
in the deliberate targeting of om-
munilies of color for toxic waste
disposaMl and ithe siting of polluting
Environmental racism is world-
wide. In 1988, the international
community was shocked by the
murder of Chico Mendes in the
Amazon rain foas. The New York
Times reported that "Mendes, a
lifelong rubber tapper and labor
auion activism, cmidod his soug-
gle o be founded no on ecology
but on social justice and human
rights.
Meodes' aim was to pect his
county's rigs to ean a livelihood
from the Amazon rain forest by
extracting aex from bber trees
and gathering num in seansos when
rubber was not flowing. Once
Mendles was induced 1d the emsri-
ronmental movement, he realized
a e stm gle to empower his fel-
low ribo m and topm ec the
Amuon min foms was the same.
Because Mendes fought lo
ensure his country would be pre-
served instead of slashed and
bMled for de benefit of a few rich
people, he was killed.
Similar rule have happMed
the world over.
At home, the St. Crox Environ
metal Association coidera evi-
eaommeal racism to be at the bas


alive in V.I.
of helightof theMid-Island War-
iers Some memrs of he group's
homing communmy, which is loca-
ed across from St. Croix Alumina
Plan, have suffered serious hballh
problems for years. SEA has tried
to get a gant from the Envimomm--
al Protection Agency to help the
residents in this community, but it
was unsuccessful,
The list of environmental injus-
tices on these islands is long,
udincludig resideial neighbob ood
that have wound across from the
landll adsewvage trament ies.
For this year's Earth Day ode-
bration. SEA will host Jerome
Ringo, a noted African American
legislative lobbyist, who will speak
n onvironmetal racism. eThoca -
sion is scheduled for 7 p.m. Mon-
day a the St. Croix Educational

I mre JeromeRiger a year at
the National Wildlife Federation
annual meeting in Washington.
D.C. He is a forceful speaker on
environmental issues relative to
people of color. He has served on
ihe Govemor's Environmental Edu-
cation Commission in his state of
Ladoiias, and developed Hispanic
enavromeal edumtionprogrnus.
e struggle for environmental
justice was not invented in the
199l This movement started yeas
ago by people of color, but was
considered a social problem rather
than a political problem. Today,
comnnmities ae demanding envi-
rowaenmaljusice. So shod we.
Olase Dvis, who olds a mus-
or ofxscienc degree ia range man-
agemenr aodforesi y ecology, i a
Sr. Croix ecologist, activist and
writer.
V FOR IFOiAION
Ona he elmironsed racIsm
lececal SEAt 7731180.




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