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John Oliver: Environmental Racism

John Oliver: Environmental Racism

Environmental Racism According to John Oliver

4 Mins Read

John Oliver is a man well-known for his ability to simplify complex topics and make them easy to understand. He brought up the serious topic of environmental racism with his trademark humour. Last Week Tonight show. The host provided a graphic representation of not only the prejudice, but also how it destroys lives and ends them all across the U.S.

The issue aired May 1, and was uploaded to YouTube the following day. It had already received more than one million views by lunchtime. In the midst of the eye rolls at unjustified white privilege, clips of Black community members asking why their neighborhoods were considered suitable dumping ground for waste that white people don’t want to deal. Although the 20-minute segment was lively and punchy, the overall message was clear. Unsaved people are being killed by environmental racism.

Photo taken last week tonight

Environmental racism must be eliminated

Oliver keeps it simple in his opener. He says that pollution affects everyone, but some people have it worse. This is the crux environmental racism, he argues. 

Diving deeper, it’s a systemic form of prejudice, meaning that policies, activities, and directives can add weight to unfair outcomes. This is evident in the way that industrial sites are often built or run in close proximity to low-income and BIPOC neighborhoods.

Oliver focuses on studies that show that Black Americans are more likely to be exposed than the average person. 50 percentThey are more exposed to air pollution than any other demographic. They also have a 75 percent higher chance of living near factories and plants. These are just some examples of environmental racism.

Oliver explained that black neighborhoods can be targeted with great precision. Pollution is one reason for conditions like asthma, heart disease, and even death. Black Americans are nearly three times more likely to die than white AmericansFrom pollution to exposure.

Photo by Alex Simpson at Unsplash

These are the issues that were not covered

Oliver did a decent job of bringing up a disturbing topic on mainstream TV, but he was mainly concerned with pollution and its effects on human life, and ignored other pressing concerns. 

The U.S. has a long history of environmental racism. It started with the appropriation and destruction of indigenous land. This is still happening today under the banner of oil pipelines. After decades of neglect and lack, Covid-19 had a profound impact on BIPOC communities. 25 percentBlack people accounted for 13% of all U.S. covid death, despite them making up only 13% of the country’s population.

Photo by Jon Tyson, Pexels.

What can we do about environmental racism

Oliver gives many examples of real communities being affected by environmental racism. Shingle Mountain, which is the name given to the recycling facility, sits next door to a predominantly Black and Latinx residential neighborhood, gets a special mention. Soooooo! Byhalia Connection Pipeline, a Memphis oil pipeline, that traveled a longer, more expensive route through Black communities to avoid it taking the shortest route through wealthy, white neighborhoods. 

He then noted that the Biden administration, despite campaign rhetoric referring to environmental justice a lot, has decided Not to consider raceWhen looking at the issue. Many citizens were disappointed and Oliver reiterated that it was not a problem to do nothing. He is prolific in his last section about ending archaic practice and atoning environmental damage done, before moving on.

Oliver states that the government is responsible for preventing industries from polluting at their will. He also considers racial motivations.  He states that local activists require support from larger organisations and he highlights President Biden’s potential role as a changemaker by pointing out his administration. 

…unless we make big steps to address environmental racism and call it what it is, a brutal divide is going to stay in place in this country where some are treated like they’re worth protecting, and Others can be sacrificed for their goodOliver concluded.

Photo by Life Matters at Pexels.

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