Reviewed by Joe Argent~
Environmental Racism and Classism is a collection of essays, reports, and other previously published documents complied by Greenhaven Publishing’s At Issue series. As the title suggests, the materials in this book focus on topics central to the Environmental Justice movement. The bulk of the content presents examples of how state, local, and federal policies and business practices intentional or inattentional endangered people in economically disadvantaged areas, and, especially in The United States, communities of color. However, the book also includes articles, both from the right and left, that are skeptical about the claims of the Environmental Justice movement. One such essay even has the title “Environmental Racism Does Not Exist.”
The early articles provide a useful history of the Environmental Justice movement including several references to seminal 1982 case of PCP dumping in an African-American community in Warren County, North Carolina. The book continues with articles ranging from the important role religion has played in the early days in the movement (“Religious Voices Play a Critical Role in Environmental Justice”), infamous cases of racism and classism (Flint, Michigan and Bhopal India), corporate examples (“The Food Industry Is Complicit with Environmental Racism,” “Corporations and Governments Put Profits Ahead of People”), and calls to unite diverse communities to ameliorate the causes/effects of environmental injustice (“Environmentalism Must Bridge Its Racial Divide”).
Environmental Racism and Classism provide a useful introduction to several aspects of the Environmental Justice movement including its origin, foundational principles, important events, and skepticism from its detractors.