By Monique Ngozi Nri, SJC Member
Economic degradation begets environmental degradation which begets social degradation. Lower income communities are often exploited for profit.” -Majora Carter founder of the Sustainable South Bronx.
Too often race and class are reliable indicators for the presence of environmental justice in any given neighborhood in the U.S. For example, where parks or power plants are located or where whole and fresh foods are available. A black person is twice as likely to live in an area with air pollution that poses health risks and 5 times more likely to live within walking distance of power plant. These land conditions can lead to health disparities such as obesity, diabetes, and asthma; 1 out of every 4 South Bronx children has asthma; 50% of residents live at or below poverty line, 25% are unemployed.
In a small part of the Bronx there is 40% of the city’s waste, 100% of Bronx’s waste, Sewage treatment plant, 4 electrical power plants, and 60,000 trucks a week which blocks access to the river. Hunts Point riverside park, first riverside park in 6 years, leveraged 10,000 seed grant to 3 million dollar park. Lowest ratio of parks to people.
Sustainable development will save us from ourselves. Why is this not required or pushed more by policy makers, because they’re greatly unaffected by the pollution. Development should not come at the cost of others.,
The description from Majora Carter on the South Bronx provides an adequate local example of environmental and social injustice. Here at The New School, students, staff and groups like Sustainable Cities and the Social Justice Committee (SJC) work to spread awareness on these issues.
A Recent New School Event
A successful film screening sponsored by Peer Health Advocates, Sustainable Cities, and Social Justice Committee, in November for American Indian heritage month, called HOMELAND: Four Portraits of Native Action followed by discussion with faculty member Katayoun Chamany, captured the issue of environmental degradation on American Indian land and the intruding privilege big oil and gas companies have in claiming control over marginalized communities.
Future film screenings and events relating these two issues will continue. If you have any ideas to contribute or would like to get more involved, please contact any of the groups below:
Sustainable Cities- student organization working with the Office of Sustainable Facilities and Management to make The New School campus more sustainable while participating in environmental issues off campus. Contact person: Alison Schuettinger at email@example.com
Peer Health Advocates- NSU students with an enthusiasm for wellness and positive change in health, community, and environment. They have received wellness and leadership training. PHA’s act as an ally, guide, friend, mentor, role model, team member, and support system. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org