What is environmental justice?
Environmental Justice has basically redefined what environmentalism is all about. It basically says that the environment is everything: where we live, work, play, go to school, as well as the physicaland natural world. And so we cannot separate the physical environmental from the cultural environment. We have to talk about making sure that justice isintegrated throughout all of what we do. Environmental justice incorporates theidea that we are just as much concerned about wetlands, birds and wilderness area, but we are also concerned with urban habitats, where people live in cities, about children that are being poisoned by lead in housing and kids playing outside in contaminated playgrounds.
The environmental justice movement tries to address allof the inequities that result from human settlement, industrial facility sites and industrial development. It tries to address power imbalances, lack of political enfranchisement, and to redirect resources so that we can create healthy, livable and sustainable types of models. It tries to educate and assist groups in organizing and mobilizing, empowering themselves to takecharge of their lives, their community and their surroundings.
Race and class are potent factor for predicting where locally unwanted land uses go. Yet the issues of environmental racism and environmental justice don’t just deal with people of color. We are just as much concerned with inequities in Appalachia, for example, where the whites are basically dumped on because of lack of economic and political clout and lack ofhaving a voice to say “no.” That is environmental injustice. So we are tryingto work with groups across the political spectrums – democrats, republicans,independents, on the reservations, in the barrios, in the ghettos, on theborder and internationally – to see that we address these issues in acomprehensive manner.
– Robert Bullard