Environmental justice and food insecurity across the nation were the topics of a presentation in Brown Hall this past Tuesday, April 9, put together by the EcoNuts.
“Environmental justice is basically equal treatment with the respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies,” EcoNut member Millie Holliday said.
Holliday highlighted that minorities living in poverty are at risk of environmental injustice because the lack of resources in their community make it hard to speak out against polluters and governmental practice. Some of the examples of environmental injustice Holliday highlighted were Hurricane Katrina and Flint Michigan.
“60.5 percent of New Orleans at the time that Hurricane Katrina hit was black,” Holliday said. “And a lot of them were impoverished, and they had a huge death toll 18,000 out of 223,000 people died due to levee breakage. Hurricane Katrina is one of those cases where we can’t discern if racial tensions were intentional. But we do know that many black communities were already susceptible to flooding. This is due to government malpractice in terms of infrastructure, which is a huge problem in black communities in America.”
Holliday and Heather Godsey also talked about how environmental justice and food scarcity happens because of white flight and segregation. Holliday told the audience how white flight had happened in Johnson City.
“You guys know where the golf course is on University Parkway,” Holliday said. “That was a black community. In the ’50s they made everyone move and displaced a lot of people to build that. It took a while, but the black Americans displaced from where that community used to be ended up in the Carver community and around downtown. On the other side of the interstate is suburbia. That’s what we’re looking at when we look at white flight.”
Holliday said talking about this topic brings awareness to environmental justice and food scarcity.
“People don’t realize the effect that food deserts have on minority impoverished communities,” Holliday said. “In light of Hurricane Katrina and Flint Michigan, a lot of people are hearing this term environmental racism … and they don’t know where it’s coming from, and they don’t know how to solve it, so we’re trying to bring awareness so people … They know what to do.”