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Environmental Injustices

In: Social Issues

Submitted By gladstone227
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The United States of America stands for a lot of things; but freedom and equality stands way above all of its great attributes that our founding fathers had set forth when drafting the Declaration of Independence. The very basic right provided under the constitution is the first amendment; freedom of speech is clearly stated but what about equality? How has this country guaranteed that each of its citizens are treated and represented equally in our government? As I read the first chapter of “The Environmental Justice Movement, A Political Framework,” it was becoming clear to me that not everyone starts at the same playing field. Some of us are provided free passes to bigger and better things at life simply because of our color of our skins, social status and other environmental factors. Actually, I already had known this for quite some time; it’s difficult not to see it in this community, but what I did not fully comprehend was why? Why is it that as many educated minority men and women do we continue to see more prominent white male middle upper class representatives, politicians and judges in power? If Latinos are the fastest growing minorities in the United States, then why is it that we do not see more minorities in office? The evidence is very clear; minorities do not have sufficient resources enough to keep up with the white male political system. This process is evident as I read “The Political Process Model,” section. It states that “the study of politics is concerned with the processes that determine, who gets what, when, and how.” This is powerful but true! It is clear that those who rise to the top levels of government are the cream of le crème of this country. These individuals are responsible for passing legislation, laws, and regulations just to name a few, that impact our lives every day. The chapter also states that one of government’s main roles is to maintain social order by offering punishment and rewards; another words, goods and services. But are the goods and services a fair system to all its citizens? My answer is no! It is not a fair and equal system simply because it is obvious that if we do not have enough resources for everyone; so then some groups are asked to make sacrifices at the expense of another group. It is obvious which groups are the losers in this system. Yes, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans just to name a few so I will not dissect these groups any further because then I would have to mention: women, gays and lesbians. A perfect example of environmental injustice is the way our communities are created. It is obvious to say that this area of development was done in such an unequal manner just by the evidence all around us. We do not need to look across the country to make that observation; all I need to do is mention the word “Asarco.” It is true that the “Smelter Community” was developed around this toxic place while providing jobs to minorities in horrendous and unsafe environment; spilling toxic fumes and waste around the neighborhoods. Do you think that this would have been tolerated in an upper class neighborhood in El Paso? Why does government allow some communities to endure such hazardous and toxic conditions? Why do they look the other way? Again we have limited resources and some of us are asked to make sacrifices on the expense of others. The chapter also mentions once a candidate is elected into office, he or she does not want to isolate themselves politically because conflict is viewed as a “fundamental condition of politics”, because power relationships exist when there is conflict over issues such as limited resources, regulations just to name a few so perhaps it is safe to say that politicians know that what is going on in some communities is wrong but in order to avoid conflicts among their elite groups and maintain the powers on their side, all of these issues are ignored until some minority group is assembled in such a manner that awareness is brought to the public. It is because of those groups that have worked so strenuously that our government finally took action and created an agency called the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA for short. Even though progress has been made, environmental injustices continue to plague communities around this country and the world today. So now that we know what is wrong with the system, how do we go about making changes? How does a group organize to make changes to certain elements of government to divide those precious resources, opportunities and bring social unrest to a peaceful and fair playing field? It has been mentioned that in order to bring about change to society, the minority group must have at least three important components in order to be able to succeed. For example, the political groups that seeks change must be able to gain political opportunities within their excluded group; the organization of these groups must be strong and supportive in order to succeed and how people react to a system that has treated them have real important factors and will impact any group who is willing to rise to the cause.…...

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