Louis to New Orleans, from Baltimore to Oklahoma City, there are poor and
minority neighborhoods so beset by pollution that just living in them can be
hazardous to your health. Due to entrenched segregation, zoning ordinances that
privilege wealthier communities, or because businesses have found the ‘paths of
least resistance,’ there are many hazardous waste and toxic facilities in these
communities, leading residents to experience health and wellness problems on
top of the race and class discrimination most already experience. Taking stock of the recent environmental
justice scholarship, Toxic Communities examines the connections among residential segregation, zoning, and exposure to
environmental hazards. Renowned environmental sociologist Dorceta Taylor focuses
on the locations of hazardous facilities in low-income and minority communities
and shows how they have been dumped on, contaminated and exposed.
Drawing on an array of
historical and contemporary case studies from across the country, Taylor
explores controversies over racially-motivated decisions in zoning laws,
eminent domain, government regulation (or lack thereof), and urban renewal. She
provides a comprehensive overview of the debate over whether or not there is a
link between environmental transgressions and discrimination, drawing a clear
picture of the state of the environmental justice field today and where it is
going. In doing so, she introduces new concepts and theories for understanding
environmental racism that will be essential for environmental justice scholars.
A fascinating landmark study, Toxic
Communities greatly contributes to the study of race, the environment, and
space in the contemporary United States.