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Communications & Media
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Environmental Racism: Cancer Alley (Essay Sample)


The sample describes a case of environmental racism, specifically the cancer alley. The task required that a case description be provided, including how environmental racism is reflected. A theoretical orientation describes the relevant theories to explain the case. lastly, a media object that can be used to communicate the issue of enviroonentl racism is slected and justified.


Student Name
Professor Name
Cancer Alley and Environmental Racism
Case Description
The case research was the cancer alley and how it serves as an embodiment of environmental racism. The cancer alley has been described by Castellón as ‘petrochemical America’ to insinuate a region along the Mississippi River spanning from Baton Roque to New Orleans, Louisiana (15). Historically, the great sugar plantations bordered both sides of the river from Baton Roque to New Orleans. However, industrialization and the discovery of oil in Louisiana meant that the sugar plantations were replaced by other industrial establishments, specifically wholesale facilities involved in the refinery and processing of oil into several petrochemical products (Keehan 343). According to Castellón, the petrochemical businesses intentionally locate their facilities in the urban areas where the poor communities reside, especially the people of color (16). In other words, toxicity follows the segregated and poor populations. It is important to acknowledge that sugar plantators used slave labor from the African Americans, which means that the fall of the industry resulted in these communities settling in the region. Therefore, establishing industries that pollute the environment around these people is seen as an act of environmental racism.
Environmental racism is not a new phenomenon because it has been studied extensively in the last few decades. Its history is often associated with the emergence of the environmental justice movement around the 1980s when contemporary chemicals, hypermodern hazards, and racialized bodies clashed. A perfect example is a toxic mess witnessed in Warren County in North Carolina where concerns were raised that there was a racialized distribution of petrochemical pollution in Louisiana (Davies 1360). The confrontations that ensued there resulted in the coinage of the term 'cancer alley' to insinuate the nature of the health risks involved. Davies reviews a book titled "Clean and White", which offers a greater insight into the history of America past the antebellum roots of environmental racism (1360). The basic idea is that environmental racism has had a long history where the minorities are always the ones exposed to the dangers of industrial pollution.
The Cancer Alley reflects on the disproportionate manner in which the people of color in America are affected by industrial pollution. 

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