Building Equitable, Healthy, and Climate Change-Ready Communities in the Wake of COVID-19
Low-income and tribal communities as well as communities of color have long borne the brunt of environmental pollution, unjust housing policies, economic inequality, and disparate access to affordable and quality health care. The lack of investment in these communities coupled with historic and systemic racism has resulted in toxic air, properties contaminated by industrial pollution—or brownfields—high unemployment, chronic illness, and crumbling infrastructure. As Peggy Shepard, co-founder of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, said:
There’s a continuum of racism that has permeated government, institutions, and all systems and sectors of society for communities of color and people of low income. The Black Lives Matter demonstrations have been a catalyst for renewing awareness and understanding of the intersectionality of issues such as environmental degradation, education disinvestment, economic instability, and housing segregation with racism.
These hardships are now being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, which have disproportionately affected people of color. Unemployment rates are the highest they have been since the Great Depression, and they are higher for people of color than for white people.