This lesson clearly connects redlining and environmental racism.
This lesson shows a concrete example of the effects of systemic racism in the United States.
Some students may never have discussed racism and climate change before. Meet your students where they are and encourage them to ask good questions.
When teaching this sequence, it’s important to acknowledge the historical facts that have led to this injustice. Here are some resources to help you:
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi defines racist policy as “any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between racial groups.” (Source: Article from Penguin Publishing Company)
Government entities suppressed the Black vote throughout different means until the Voting Rights Act in 1965. (Source: history.com)
It may be necessary to offer the letter-writing as an extension or an extra credit opportunity.
Be sensitive to the needs of your students, as systemic racism affects them in different ways.
This lesson introduces students to environmental justice and asks them to use an EPA mapping tool that shows how polluted an area is. The lesson also includes a video resource from Vox that highlights the area of Louisiana known as “Cancer Alley." To be as perfectly clear as possible, vast amounts of data and evidence show that people of color are disproportionately affected by pollution in the United States, and that higher exposure to pollutants directly correlates to higher incidence of disease. This video was produced in May of 2020, which is quite early on in the pandemic, and as such, some of the numbers presented in it are outdated. This outdated data is only for the numbers given when speaking on COVID-19 mortality rates. For example, the video says that Louisiana’s population is 32% Black (still correct) but Black people account for 56% of COVID-19 deaths. This is no longer the case as of July 2022, and according to data obtained from Louisiana’s government website, Black citizens account for 34% of deaths. While this is still disproportional, it is not as large of a disparity as when the video was produced. The same is true for Michigan, where Black residents now account for 17.5% of deaths but make up 14% of the population (data from michigan.gov). So, while this lesson highlights the importance of environmental justice and is overall scientifically sound, please just take note of the changes in the COVID-19 data.