Environmental Justice

West Oakland is a predominantly Black community that is under siege and has been under siege for decades.  People of color in Oakland disproportionately experience a daily assault on their health and environment. Communities of color are the hardest hit by air and water pollution from freeway traffic, industrial operations, incinerators, chemical waste, and lead contamination from old pipes and paint. At the same time, they have less access to parks, gardens, and other recreational green space.

Like income inequality, environmental inequality is rapidly growing in the United States.

Black children are five times more likely than white children to have lead poisoning. Indigenous peoples are impacted disproportionately by destructive mining practices and the dumping of hazardous materials on their lands. As demonstrated by Hurricane Katrina, poor communities of color have a harder time escaping, surviving and recovering from climate-related disasters. Taken together, it is clear that people of color experience a disparate exposure to environmental hazards where they “work, live, and play.”

Nationwide, the health of communities is consistently ignored in favor of the profits of corporate polluters. The fact that people of color breathe 46 percent more nitrogen dioxide —which causes respiratory diseases and heart conditions — than whites helps explain why one in six African-American kids has asthma.

Taken together, these injustices are largely the product of political marginalization and institutional racism. The less political power a community of color possesses, the more likely it is to experience insidious environmental and human health threats. The environmental violence being inflicted on communities of color–in Oakland, as in Flint, Michigan–is takes a terrible toll. Access to a clean and healthy environment is a fundamental right of all people. To deny such rights constitutes an environmental injustice that should never be tolerated.

Although we are fighting coal in Oakland, this is just one front of a struggle that has many fronts.  No Coal in Oakland stands together with activists who are fighting for environmental justice in Oakland, throughout the Bay Area, across the country, and around the world.