Wednesday, April 18, 2007

story beneath the story

A lot of my posts on here have nothing to do with parenting - directly, that is. They have to do with awareness raising, which to me has everything to do with becoming an anti-racist, and anti-racist parenting just stems from that. So here goes one.

As far as news items go, there is always a story behind the story presented. I have learned to take almost nothing I read in the papers for face value and to read between the lines and follow my hunches on what is being left out. Well, an MSNBC story I read today said that recently researchers from Loma Linda University in California have stated that "racial disparity in cancer rates and outcomes may be driven by genetics as well as socioeconomic factors." In other words, the researchers found that genes may be to blame for the higher of cancer among minorities.

The socioeconomic factors eluded to in the story had to do with "lack of health insurance, poverty, cultural barriers, and limited access to good medical care." But what the story left out was that environmental and institutional racism play a huge part in this equation.

A recent report from the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University, “which serves as an update to a landmark 1987 study uncovering the proximity of minority groups to hazardous waste sites across the country, found that an even larger number of Hispanics/Latinos and African-Americans live within two miles of one of more than 400 such facilities in the U.S.”

Hmmm. . . If genes and poverty are the sole culprits for high cancer rate, we, the readers and those at the center of the inquiry regarding cancer rates, are left with no agency. But what if racism is put in the spotlight, then we suddenly may have somebody (perhaps lawmakers & corporations/lobbyists or our own privilege to not have to care) to blame. Hmmm. . .


Emptyman said...

"Environmental racism" is misleading. A more accurate term might be "environmental classism." You get a smelting plant or a chemical factory or a toxic waste dump in your neighborhood because you are poor and therefore politically weak, not because you are a minority. If you are a minority you are also more likely to be poor, so the net result may be the same, but the motivations are economic, not racist.

Tereza said...

Emptyman, see my post, Environmental Racism is Real - Check your Facts.