Racism in the Environment?

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By Abi Parameswaran

Global warming, temperature modification and pollution; these are only some of the thousands of different issues across the world, some of which are addressed, and others hidden in plain vision. These problems remain prevalent in our society even though many hate admitting it. Most are unaware of environmental racism and continue to say it is a made-up distraction to take the focus off real issues. Inequalities, within the environment, is the reason why many areas lack support. It is a real issue across our country and in the world. Environmental racism is the lack of awareness directed at some geographical areas, the causation being political problems, societal standing and overall judgement. This problem is well-known in areas with strong minorities and can be seen in the early 1960s within Canada and with first nation communities in present days. Issues in unknown areas are ignored and it effects variations of citizens in the world.

Environmental racism has been in Canada since the sixties. In Nova Scotia, Africville was known to be home to families of people who were slaves. This area was a product of neglection. People lived there without sufficient water source, adequate housing, or functioning schooling systems. Africville did not get funds to live in a healthy environment. People who live in Africville separated after the government decided to destroy the area for being overly contaminated and an eye-sore. This area within Nova Scotia faced racism because of the absence of awareness and care to go towards the land these citizens lived on. The same problem remains, the First Nations communities and reserves across Canada being an example. Many First Nations people are harmed by projects such as pipeline constructions, lack of funding on reserves and educational needs not being met by people living on the land. All these factors are known and although efforts are made to stop these problems it is always temporarily talked about in the media than mass populations turn a blind eye shortly after. Even though advocates continue to fight for these simple rights for these communities many often commoners do not look further into issues of equality within the environment. Is it fair to subject Indigenous members of this country to such harsh living standards? The fact that Indigenous members of Canadian society have issues related to the environment that is not being addressed is a problem since many other areas do not face these inequalities and are oblivious to communities that do.

Spreading knowledge on this topic will help people realize it is an issue. However, people need to accept it is an issue. Living a life masked to these issues will only worsen the environmental standings of areas affected by this. This is a problem faced all over the world and being oblivious to such issues only makes this problem widespread and worse. Anyone that continues to believe environmental racism is not real, this is only one of the thousands of cases in the world. People need to realize that inequalities related to the environment exist all over the world. There are countless times these are spoken about, yet as a society, there is no progression being seen. Organizations can only take control and question such issues for so long. The general public needs to become aware of this situation and talk about it and address it. Considering that many are still oblivious to racism amongst people and continue to use racial slurs and offend people it is tough to bring awareness about a completely new realm of racism. This is just proof that awareness is needed in all areas of racism considering it is still prevalent in society. Environmental racism is one of many forms of discrimination that continues to exist across the world. With the awareness and action taken for these issues someday, as a society racism itself may become a word of the past. Everyone deserves the right of feeling safe and having access to the necessities in life, and if the factor that stops them from receiving this is inequalities in the environment than this is a serious issue and more people need to know of it. People need to wake up and see the reality of things as many issues are not as clear as perceived to be.