Children of many socioeconomic factors. Environmental racism is

Children
are known as the future lineage for any family, community, culture or society. Generation
after generation children are given the key to the future, in order to progress
and grow. Now, wouldn’t it be uncaring and malicious if the health of these
children was being negatively affected by various environmental factors?  In today’s day and age a specific group of
children are being affected by these factors due to environmental racism. The
process of environmental racism is causing a growth in ethnic minorities children’s
rates of asthma, obesity, and cancer. Throughout this essay I will further
explain the effects of environmental racism in ethnic minority areas in
connection with the prevalence of cancer, asthma, and obesity in children.

            Environmental racism is known as the,
“Disproportionate burden of environmental pollution experienced by ethnic
minorities.”1
This issue can be commonly found throughout many low-income neighborhoods in
the United States. Environmental racism can also be seen as a byproduct of
racism and discrimination directed at many minorities. These minorities are
then forced to live in certain areas because of many socioeconomic factors.
Environmental racism is very dangerous to these low-income communities, in
which their children are forced to live in and risk attracting diseases.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

Children in these ethnic minority
neighborhoods are forced to live with the effects of environmental racism,
which include higher rates of cancer, asthma, and obesity. The younger the
children are the less they are able to protect themselves from environmental
toxins, due to a developing immune system. Now, if you live in an ethnic
minority area this certainly does not benefit the child. Since low-income areas
have been known to contain higher rates of carcinogens, especially in urban
areas. This is evident in Manuel Pastor’s study entitled, “Who’s Minding the
Kids? Pollution, Public Schools, and Environmental Justice in Los Angelo’s.” In
his article, he talks about a learning center being constructed in Los Angeles
to help alieve overcrowding of nearby schools. This new learning center is
being built in a Latino dominated area. Half-way through the project it was
discovered that the land the learning center was being built on was previously
an oil field. Pastor states, “With active methane gas leaks and soil
contaminated with carcinogenic compounds.”2
This was extremely shocking to me due to the fact that children’s schools
adhere by severely strict policies here in the United States.

After the news came to light, it
was also revealed that the school’s officials were aware of this since the
beginning. This then caused an uproar in the community, which helped suggest,
“The decision to site a Latino-serving school in such a problematic location
reflected environmental racism.”3
The article continues with Pastor conducting his own study looking into environmental
hazards in urban schools. He concluded that, “Cancer and respiratory risks do
appear to be distributed unequally, with a disproportionate share of the burden
accruing to minority schoolchildren.”4
This was really saddening, the idea that children in ethnic minority
communities cannot go to school without being at risk of many environmental
hazards.

These ethnic minority areas are
often so heavily polluted that it causes asthma in children. Asthma is a
condition in which a person’s airways become inflamed, narrow and swell, and
produce extra mucus, which makes it difficult to breathe.5  Asthma can also get better or worse as the
child grows in age. The treatment of asthma also involves the use of expensive
medications and inhalers, which also help add more costs to these low-income
families. For example, every now and then I have to go visit my doctor in order
to get a prescription for an inhaler. Not only must one have to pay for
medications but must also include the cost of health insurance. It’s crucial
because your asthma symptoms often will not improve without medication.

            To further look at the connection
between a child in an ethnic minority environment and their chances of
obtaining asthma I will be explaining Emily Rosenbaum’s article entitled,
“Racial/Ethnic Differences in Asthma Prevalence: The role of housing and
Neighborhood Environments.” In this article Rosenbaum chose to study prevalence
of asthma among 10 different racial group households across New York City. Rosenbaum
found that the housing market is severely limited when it comes to blacks and
Hispanics. This then forces them to live in poorly maintained neighborhoods
filled with asthma triggers. The asthma triggers found in these neighborhoods
include cockroaches, rodent feces, dust mites, and many other triggers.
Rosenbaum also states, “The odds of asthma prevalence rose strongly with the
number of maintenance deficiencies reported by householders; were enhanced by
dampness, lack of adequate heat, and presence of rodents.”6

 Rosenbaum also found another correlation
between asthma and ethnic minority neighborhoods which was stress caused by the
environment. Stress in relation with a neighborhood with high crime rates and
violence, which then influences individuals to relieve stress by smoking. This
smoking then exposes children to second hand smoke, greatly effecting the
quality of the air they breathe. Rosenbaum also looked into the findings of the
2002 New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey or HVS. She states, “1,982 children
under 16 in Central Harlem revealed a level of asthma more than four times
higher than the national level of childhood asthma.”7
This did not surprise me, because I have visited central Harlem and it is
poorly maintained compared to other parts of the city. Rosenbaum then concludes
with, “Such a findings adds to the growing literature documenting a connection
between racism and health…and make access to safe and desirable housing
available to all households.”8
I completely agree with her in which these racially barred ethnic groups should
be given the opportunity to live in more cleaner communities.

Ethnic minority children living in
conditions brought on by the idea of environmental racism also have higher
rates of obesity. Obesity is a growing problem and is seen as major problem
here in the United states, but it is viewed differently by an article written
by K.L Proctor. Proctor conducted a study in which he investigated why certain
areas have higher rates of obese children than others. His results showed a
correlation between a household’s income and poor nutrition. This then suggests
that low-income families often can’t afford to purchase healthy foods and
result in buying cheap foods. I agree with this as I believe that this poor
nutrition is a result of living in a ethnic minority and low-income neighborhood.
As a result, what’s immediately available to children and their families are
fast food restaurants and other cheap eats. Whereas high quality restaurants
and supermarkets are not going to be available because of the low-income thought
out the communities.

Proctor results also found a correlation
between physical activity and obesity. Proctor states, “It has been shown that
childhood obesity is associated with parents’ perception of the safety of the
neighborhood.”9
This idea goes back to my earlier mention of ethnic minority areas with high
rates of crime and violence. I agree with Proctor, because parents are not
going to let their children out and about in a high-risk area. Children then
end up staying indoors and adapting to a sedentary life style at an early age. Ethnic
minorities have been associated with higher crime rates, but I believe this is
a result of limiting their housing opportunities and forcing them to live in
certain areas.

 I believe that environmental racism in ethnic
minority communities can be fixed. One way it could be fixed is by providing
equal housing opportunities to all ethnicities. There should also be a
government task force dedicated to minimalizing air pollutants released by
these corporations, and help bring environmental racism to a level of national
awareness. These children have to be protected at all costs, as they are our
future.

1 Weitz, R. (2015). Sociology of health, illness, and health
care: a critical approach. Cengage Learning. Pg. 61-62

2 Pastor, M., Sadd, J., &
Morello-Frosch, R. (2002). Who’s Minding the Kids? Pollution, Public Schools,
and Environmental Justice in Los Angeles. Social Science Quarterly, 83(1), 263-280. Retrieved from
http://www.jstor.org.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu/stable/42956285

 

3 Pastor, M., Sadd, J., & Morello-Frosch, R.
(2002). Who’s Minding the Kids? Pollution, Public Schools, and Environmental
Justice in Los Angeles. Social Science Quarterly, 83(1),
263-280.

4 Pastor, M., Sadd, J., & Morello-Frosch, R.
(2002). Who’s Minding the Kids? Pollution, Public Schools, and Environmental
Justice in Los Angeles. Social Science Quarterly, 83(1),
263-280.

5
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/symptoms-causes/syc-20369653

6 Rosenbaum, E. (2008). Racial/Ethnic Differences
in Asthma Prevalence: The Role of Housing and Neighborhood Environments. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 49(2), 131-145.

7 Rosenbaum, E. (2008). Racial/Ethnic Differences
in Asthma Prevalence: The Role of Housing and Neighborhood Environments. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 49(2), 131-145.

8 Rosenbaum, E. (2008).
Racial/Ethnic Differences in Asthma Prevalence: The Role of Housing and
Neighborhood Environments. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 49(2), 131-145.

9 Procter, K., Clarke, G., Ransley, J., &
Cade, J. (2008). Micro-Level Analysis of Childhood Obesity, Diet, Physical
Activity, Residential Socioeconomic and Social Capital Variables: Where Are the
Obesogenic Environments in Leeds? Area, 40(3), 323-340.