To Protect Children of Color, Leaders Must Understand and Address Environmental Racism

ChildTrends reports that environmental racism occurs when policies and practices disproportionately expose Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color to pollution and hazardous conditions in their homes, neighborhoods, places of work, and other parts of their lives. Black and Latinx populations are more likely than their white counterparts to live in neighborhoods with higher air pollution. Young Black children are also significantly more likely to have higher blood lead levels than their white neighbors, from sources like chipping lead paint or water (e.g., the crisis of lead-poisoned water in Flint, MI and the long-neglected soil contamination in the West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago, IN). Elsewhere, Indigenous communities repeatedly witness soil and water contamination as a result of mining and other polluting industries (a reality brought to the public’s attention by the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and the Tar Creek Superfund Site in Oklahoma). Despite the direct role of policy and regulations in creating and perpetuating environmental racism, its harmful, lasting effects on children are often left out of discussions about addressing environmental issues like pollution and climate change. An understanding that environmental racism poses harm to children—and of the ways in which environmental racism is brought about by deliberate human choices—can help youth, parents, educators, researchers, and policymakers more effectively dismantle this systemic injustice. #racialequity #housing

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