I. Introduction Violence, it has been said, is as American as apple pie. Some would argue that so is racism. After four hundred years in which those in the mainstream have used every means at their disposal to subjugate minorities such as Blacks and Native Americans, one would think that in these enlightened times, when many racist laws have been overturned, there would be no cause for worry on the part of minorities. It seems that the attitudes that engender racism are so entrenched that they find novel ways to rear their heads.
In recent years, environmental racism has emerged as one of the last bastions of racism in America. Minorities in America have sometimes suffered disproportionately from having sewage dumps, electrical installations, or any number of health-harming amenities located close to them. It seems that those in the mainstream care about not harming others like them whereas they feel no compunction about the harm that might come to minority communities who are unwittingly placed in harm’s way because of a polluted environment. This paper focuses in particular on Mount Vernon and Buchanan counties because these two places typify populations in the d black minority and white residents respectively.
A. Statement of the research problemIf the charges of those who claim that America suffers from environmental racism are true then it is likely that some evidence could be found when two population groups, one white and one black, are examined closely. If it is indeed true then it is likely that more than just getting evidence from hearsay there would be some objective material to substantiate this. In effect, is there a difference between Mount Vernon, which is predominantly black, and Buchanan, which is predominantly white in terms of environmental abuses and degradation?
1. Description of Mount Vernon and Buchanan In Mount Vernon one does not have to roam long to notice that the people appear poorer and are mostly black. The city shares a boundary with the Bronx, one that stretches another place known as Bronxville, which is a wealthy neighbourhood. As a New York Times article explains, “In a county that is overwhelmingly white, Mount Vernon's minority community now represents the majority, with 60 percent of the city's 68,000 residents identifying themselves as black or African-American” (Foderaro 2003).
In all fairness, not all the people in Mount Vernon are poor. In the northern part of Mount Vernon million dollar homes can be found along with their manicured lawns. Another part of Mount Vernon that is not exactly poor is Fleetwood which has a vibrant commercial sector. To get a better perspective it is important to note that Mount Vernon lies only 25 minutes away from Manhattan and is itself divided by an east-west railway into white and black worlds.
For blacks, ever since the end of World War II there has been a steady influx into this town, increasing in numbers from 11% in 1950 to the current population, which some have pegged to be more than 50%. In the 1960s and 1970s it was a site of one of the integration battles. At the same time as blacks moved into Mount Vernon there was an outflow of whites. "There is no outward racism here, " says one of the town's defenders.
"Our whites and blacks get along well, except when whites feel that their jobs and homes are threatened" (Mount Vernon 1970).