Systemic Racism In Urban Environments & Our Future

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By: Sharon Franklin

Children play near an oil refinery in Los Angeles, California. Photo Credit: Etienne Laurent / EPA

Dr. Jake M. Robinson PhD Researcher, Department of Landscape, University of Sheffiel, South Yorkshire, England recently published an article in The Conversation entitledHow Racism and Classism Affect Natural Ecosystems”.
In the article, Dr. Robinson cited a recent publication in Science Magazine by Christopher J. Schell of the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, “The Ecological and Evolutionary Consequences of Systemic Racism In Urban Environments” , which reports the conscious and unconscious systemic biases and stereotypes contribute to shaping institutional policies that drive and exacerbate racist and classist structures in urban systems (e.g., law enforcement, residential segregation, and gentrification).
Dr. Schell explained the urban ecosystems are made up of lots of complex interactions that is evident in many cities around the world, where environmental injustice has been dictated by structural racism such as racial segregation in US cities.  He further states that urban social inequality stems from historical and contemporary power imbalances, producing effects that are often intersectional, involving race, economic class, gender, language, sexuality, nationality, ability, religion, and age.  These types of social inequalities risk the cultivation of future stewards of our planet, or the next generation of biodiversity protectors.  Dr. Schell concludes that because of these kinds of factors “The decisions we make now will dictate our environmental reality for centuries to come.” “Two timely examples include the Green New Deal proposal and Paris climate agreement.”

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