Robert D. Bullard
An environmental revolution is taking shape in the United States. This revolution has touched communities of color from New York to California and from Florida to Alaska -- anywhere where African Americans, Latinos, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans live and comprise a majority of the population. Collectively, these Americans represent the fastest growing segment of the population in the United States. They are also the groups most at risk from environmental problems.
At the heart of the problem is the fact that the United States is a racially divided nation where extreme racial inequalities continue to persist ( Kozol 1991). Because racial segregation continues to be the dominant residential pattern, people of color are clustered in urban ghettos, barrios, reservations, and rural "poverty pockets." This pattern is created by boundaries and restrictions set by the dominant white society. Racism created and perpetuates separate and unequal communities where people of color and whites live apart ( Feagin & Feagin 1986). In other words, "America's apartheid, while lacking overt legal sanction, comes closest to the system even now being reformed in the land of its invention" ( Hacker 1992).
This book focuses on people of color because their struggles unite environmentalism and social justice into one framework: the environmental justice movement. Their struggles emphasize justice, fairness, and equity. Grassroots groups challenge the "business-as-usual" environmentalism that is generally practiced by the more privileged wildlife-and conservation-oriented groups. The focus of activists of color and their constituents reflects their life experiences of social, economic, and political disenfranchisement.
After writing Dumping in Dixie, I came to see that environmental justice issues were top concerns among African Americans. Clearly, the research in that book dispelled the myth that environmental activism was solely the domain of whites ( Bullard 1990). Moreover, subsequent research reinforced what many of us already knew: environmental