Excerpt from the Covenant with Black America

All communities are not created equal. If a community happens to be poor, black, or of color, it receives less protection than does an affluent white community. The environmental justice framework defines “environment” as where we live, work, play, worship, and go to school, as well as the physical and natural world. Environmental justice is built on the principle that all Americans have a right to equal protection of our nation’s environmental, health, housing, transportation, employment, and civil rights laws and regulations. Environmental protection is a basic human right.

Hurricane Katrina exposed the world to the naked reality of environmental racism. Environmental racism refers to any policy, practice, or directive that differentially affects or disadvantages (whether intended or unintended) individuals, groups, or communities based on race or color. Environmental racism combines with public policies and industry practices to provide benefits for whites while shifting costs to people of color. Katrina presented in living color clear links among race, poverty, land use, environmental risk, and unequal protection.

Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath are just the tip of the environmental racism iceberg; the bright side is that they are instructive and inform what we must do. To assure environmental justice for all, we must address all of the inequities that result from human settlement, industrial facility siting, and industrial development. We must educate and assist groups in organizing and mobilizing, empowering ourselves to take charge of our lives, our communities, and our surroundings. We must address power imbalances and the lack of political enfranchisement; we must redirect our resources so that we can create healthy, livable, and sustainable communities for all of us.

-excerpt from Robert D. Bullard’s essay in the Covenant with Black America

To read the rest of this essay, please click here to buy the book.

Organizations Advocating For Change

The Environmental Justice Resource Center

The Environmental Justice Resource Center (EJRC) at Clark Atlanta University was founded in 1994 to assist, support, train, and educate people of color, students, professionals, and grassroots community leaders with the goal of facilitating their inclusion into the mainstream of environmental decision-making. The center serves as a national clearinghouse, repository, and archive of the largest collection of environmental justice materials in the world. Through informal networks and an interdisciplinary approach, the EJRC has forged bonds with impacted communities and developed common strategies to increase environmental literacy and educate at risk communities.

Other organizations
Below are links to organizations working to assure environmental justice for all. We will continue to add organizations, publications, and other resources to this list.

Books and reports authored or co-authored by center staff include: Highway Robbery: Transportation Racism and New Routes to Equity (South End Press 2004); The Quest For Environmental Justice: Human Rights and the Politics of Pollution (Sierra Club Books 2005); In the Wake of the Storm: Environment, Disaster, and Race After Katrina (Russell Sage Foundation 2006); and Growing Smarter: Achieving Livable Communities, Environmental Justice and Regional Equity (MIT Press 2007).

Find out more about The Environmental Justice Resource Center

The Jamestown Project
Healthcare and Well-Being
Criminal Justice
Police Accountability
Affordable Neighborhoods
Rural Development
Economic Prosperity
Environmental Justice
Digital Divide
Advocating for Change
Youth Call To Action
Plan A Town Hall Meeting
Covenant Curricula

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