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Everyday seven-year-old Juan Santiago leaves his small dirty apartment for his walk to school On the way through his predominantly African-American and Hispanic neighborhood he passes a toxic waste site and later a landfill On the other side of town young Kelly Johnson leaves her large comfortable house on her way to her bus stop On her way through her predominantly White neighborhood she passes a few oak trees and some shrubbery What is wrong with this picture Environmentalism is defined by the Websters dictionary as 1 a theory that views environment rather than heredity as the important factor in the development and especially the cultural and intellectual development of an individual or group 2 the advocacy of the preservation or improvement of the natural environment especially the movement to control pollution Most people consider environmentalists as tree-huggers that fight for the rainforests and the ozone More recently however there has been a new group of environmentalists that have come forward They are minorities and their supporters that are fighting the environmental racism that has been occurring in their neighborhoods Environmental racism can be defined as the intentional siting of hazardous waste sites landfills incinerators and polluting industries in communities inhabited by mainly African-Americans Hispanics Native Americans and Asians Weintraub 1 As a practice whether on purpose or unintended environmental racism is often reinforced by government legal economic political and military institutions Buntin 4 Minorities are particularly vulnerable because they are perceived as feeble and passive citizens They fear that if they fight against the poisoning of their neighborhoods it may jeopardize jobs and economic survival Higher income areas are usually more successful in preventing or controlling the entry of polluting industries to their communities Many at-risk communities are victims of land-use decision making that reflects the power arrangements of the dominant society Polluting industries are attracted to poor neighborhoods because land values incomes and other costs of doing business are lower Studies suggest
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