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Re: E-M:/ Toxic waste and race

Enviro-Mich message from Gary Stock <gstock@net-link.net>

Kathryn Savoie wrote:

> Ninety percent of states with facilities have disproportionately 
> high percentages of people of color living in host neighborhoods.
> States with the 10 largest differences in people-of-color 
> percentages between host neighborhoods and non-host areas include.
> --Michigan (66 vs. 19 percent)
> Differences in these percentages range from 30 percent (California)
> to 47 percent (Michigan).  Host neighborhoods are typically 
> economically depressed, with poverty rates 1.5 times that of 
> non-host communities.

Clearly this "...at Twenty" report follows the model established in
1987, which is useful.  However, the data is nearly as damning when the
focus is on socioeconomic status, rather than on race (the correlation
between the two often being evident).

We've just dodged a bullet in Kalamazoo -- one that might have landed
more clearly in the income column than in the race column.  EPA had
planned to bring large quantities of PCB-laced dredging spoils into an
area with many moderate to marginal income households.  With great
leadership from City Hall and the neighborhood itself, EPA has backed
away from those particulars.

The area still has hopeful "hometown" characteristics; various slices of
it contain healthy commercial, with local businesses and offices, and
even some new construction.  Racial diversity seems healthy, with many
non-white and some mixed-race couples, along with many elderly (usually
Dutch :-) residents there since the original 1950's era plats.  (I
notice these details since I walk near my own office there frequently.) 
However, nobody _rich_ lives nearby...

I'm just encouraging activists to keep in mind that income and political
status (or the corresponding lack thereof) can be as relevant in this
debate as any racial component.  From the report:


Table 3.1 (p. 43) is instructive.  As one moves away from HWF, "Percent
People of Color" falls -- far more abruptly among Hispanics than among
African Americans!  

However, "Poverty Rate" falls _nearly_ as quickly.  I suppose that
discussion of wealth might invite accusations of "class warfare
rhetoric," whereas discussion of race is (for some) more easily filed
among other reports and clippings, day to day.

Just don't overlook this element when responding to a proposed hazardous
waste site in a poor (but overwhelmingly white) rural area, or small
town.  That statistics are still reliable, and can be powerful.


Gary Stock                                        gstock@unblinking.com
UnBlinking                                   http://www.unblinking.com/
Googlewhack                                 http://www.googlewhack.com/

               Alberto Gonzales is a liar and traitor. 
               No wonder his boss has kept him around.

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