Jacqueline Luqman talks with Professor Willie Jamaal Wright and Eddie Conway about how the many facets of anti-Black racism contribute to environmental racism, and whether enough is being done to elevate this discussion in and for communities of color.
This conversation emerged based on Dr. Wright's 2018 article "As Above, So Below: Anti‐Black Violence as Environmental Racism," published in Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography. The abstract follows.
Activists and scholars often describe environmental racism as an immoral and illegal dumping of toxic waste into poor, Black, and people of colour communities. Yet, the use of environmental habitats in (and with) which Black people are mutilated, concealed, and contained has gone under‐conceptualised as a mode of environmental racism. I propose an expansion of familiar understandings of environmental racism to include the use of environmental habitats to commit and conceal acts of anti‐Black violence. This proposition draws from an understanding that environmental racism includes the mutual devaluation of Black bodies and the spaces in which they inhabit. I ground this study in Afro‐Pessimist and Black geographies thought, research on environmental racism and cultural analyses of Black literary and performance art. Finally, I draw from the spatial and racial analyses imprinted within James Baldwin's immense catalogue to put forth Blackness as an alternate human ethic imbued with political possibilities, an ontological conceptualisation which may push activists and scholars to seek redress beyond the policy rationales and recommendations commonplace among today's struggles for environmental justice.