Skip to content

🗣️ "Rising Up Against Environmental Racism"


Photo by Terrance Raper / Unsplash

Host: Travis Loop
Guests: Chandra Taylor | Senior Attorney & Leader of the Environmental Justice Initiative | Southern Environmental Law Center &
Marquita Bradshaw | Executive Director | Sowing Justice
Category: 🗣️ Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:24] MB: “The proposed [pipeline] project [in Memphis] […] will go right through an African American community, which is called Westwood and also another community called Boxtown, where most of the people already own their homes [and] it’s low income […]. So the Byhalia pipeline company has been using strong arm tactics to scare residents and to think that the pipeline is a done deal. […] Memphis Community Against the Pipeline organized a coalition bill to get people involved in order to put ordinances into the city council […] to stave off the pipeline.”

[4:12] MB: “The danger of this pipeline is [that] there are always leaks with […] especially this type with this much pressure going through. And what makes Memphis so great is that we get our water from aquifers and it's some of the best water around the world. And so this pipeline would actually damage the Memphis Sands and leak into our aquifer and pollute our water. […] It's not if the oil spills, it’s when it does.”

[4:49] MB: “This company has had many infractions where it has had many spills all around the country. And so the health problem is that it endangers our drinking water. […] Memphis historically is an environmental justice city, where there have been many landfills and […] all types of registered polluters […] throughout the city. And so being around facilities or these polluters […] increased cancer, increased respiratory diseases, and increased reproductive issues, and it just impacts every system of the body.”

[7:32] CT: “Unfortunately, this situation is […] what environmental racism looks like, and what environmental injustice looks like. […] We know that zoning decisions, market forces, and a perceived lack of political influence or perceived lack of political power, […] including legal historic discrimination causes of environmental injustice. So […] in southwest Memphis this community already has [a] refinery, there's a steel company, there's [a] coal fired power plant and […] the coal ash pond associated with that plant. There's a natural gas plant, there's a railroad yard, the community is also bordered by highways that contribute to […] air quality degradation.”

[9:13] CT: “Unfortunately, it's not uncommon to see this type of pattern. So we heard early on that when there was a question […] about why this part of Southwest Memphis was chosen for […] the proposed route of the Byhalia pipeline, it was because the community was deemed to be the path of least resistance. So that perceived lack of political power in the efforts to push through projects that are really undesirable for the environment and public health, to push those projects onto already overburdened communities of color is just too common.”

[11:02] MB: “Environmental racism is where black, brown, indigenous, asian and poor white communities experienced the burden of our industrial revolution, because the way things are zoned. So you see more of the things that pollute in these communities, more so than in the […] wealthier communities, where you have an actual elected official that lives on that street. […] No matter who you are or where you live, you should have access to clean air [and] clean water.”

[12:49] CT: “Research [revealed that even] over 40 years ago […], wealthier black people were still more likely to have a toxic waste facility sited near them than lower wealth white people. […] So talking about environmental racism […] is that people of color are bearing a disproportionate burden of environmental harm, even if they have more money.”

[25:52] MB: “The constructive path is to start building towards a just transition, where we're not dependent on fossil fuels by 2035. And what that takes is […] the infrastructure for clean, green, renewable energy […] and also looking at the communities that have been affected by environmental racism, and tackling some of the issues of making sure that these communities begin to heal.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 30 min | 🗓️ 05/13/2021
✅ Time saved: 28 min

Additional Links:
How the Byhalia Pipeline Impacts Memphis
Protect Our Aquifer