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6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Social Studies, History, Health

Resource Type

  • Videos, 9 minutes, 2 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - South, Louisiana


YouTube Video

One Reason Why Coronavirus Hits Black People the Hardest

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  • This video shows the connections between air pollution, race and place in America, and disparities in COVID-19 deaths, using Cancer Valley along the Mississippi River in Louisiana as an example.
  • Students will learn about the historic and present-day decisions that have led to Black people being disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
Teaching Tips


  • This video gives a straightforward connection between systemic racism, air pollution, public health, and COVID-19 health outcomes.
  • Engaging graphics, maps, and photographs will keep students interested in the video.
  • The video features Dr. Robert Bullard, known as the "Father of Environmental Justice."

Additional Prerequisites

  • Particulate matter (PM2.5) refers to tiny particles or droplets in the air that are two and one-half microns or less in width.
  • Teachers may want to remind students that one micron equals one micrometer and one micrometer equals one-millionth of a meter.


  • Social studies or history classes could use this video to show how events from history continue to impact people who are living today. Students could make a chronological list of all of the events in the video that led Black people in St. John the Baptist Parish to suffer disproportionately high mortality rates from COVID-19.
  • Biology classes could discuss why air pollutants are so dangerous for human health.
  • Other resources on this topic include this SubjectToClimate lesson on Cancer Alley, this video on the link between environmental pollution and human health, and this Grist video on environmental justice.
Scientist Notes

The chart of the National Air Toxics Assessment of Cancer risks by EPA depicted the percentile level of toxins, but the percentile class and groupings are not consistent (80-90, 90-95, 95-100), including the upper limit and lower limit values. Also, there is an inconsistency in the class grouping in the chart showing the percentage of Black people as reported by the US Census in 2018. However, all other information in the video is accurate and suitable to teach climate and environmental justice.

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • MS-LS2-4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Economics
      • D2.Eco.1.6-8 Explain how economic decisions affect the well-being of individuals, businesses, and society.
      • D2.Eco.1.9-12 Analyze how incentives influence choices that may result in policies with a range of costs and benefits for different groups.
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.5.9-12 Evaluate how political and economic decisions throughout time have influenced cultural and environmental characteristics of various places and regions.
    • Dimension 2: History
      • D2.His.14.6-8 Explain multiple causes and effects of events and developments in the past.
      • D2.His.14.9-12 Analyze multiple and complex causes and effects of events in the past.
  • Related Resources


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