It’s easy to think sites like water treatment plants, incinerators, heavy industry “have to go somewhere,” but stop for a moment and look around you… are they within view of where you call home? Do the effects of pollutants, high traffic and smog effect your health and well-being? Unless you live in an area where many residents are people of color or, in tandem, are experiencing the effects of poverty, the answer is likely no. And inasmuch, it is vital that we all ask why.
Why are sites like the Roof Depot Water Treatment facility, which the MPLS city council is forcefully pushing through to open in Phillips, again, almost always planned for areas where the great majority of residents are people of color, are experiencing the effects of poverty? Another way to ask this question; why are a greater percentage of children who grow up in poverty, or children of color, disproportionately effected by childhood asthma? If your answer is “that’s just how they are” then you need to sit down again and give that question some more thought.
Obviously, no one is born with asthma. The dots are simple to connect. One’s environment causes the symptoms of asthma. And so, what is the environment of many people of color living with the effects of poverty? It’s an environment that is habited by infrastructure that looks very much like the Roof Depot site, or the incinerator just outside of N. MPLS. Asthma, and other ailments, are often by products of both the environment and of poverty or proximity to those who are experiencing poverty.
This is something that, if we care about it, can easily be addressed. So, again, we need to ask such questions as, “why are a greater percentage of children who grow up in poverty, or children of color, disproportionately effected by childhood asthma?” The answer is, because we let it happen.