Coping with Industrial Exploitation
The consequences of industrialization have forced an increasing number of African Americans to become environmentalists. This is particularly the case for those who live in central cities where they are overburdened with the residue, debris, and decay of industrial production. Social scientists have been fascinated with the relationship between race, development, and the environmental crisis. They have found that the costs and benefits of industrial expansion are not equally distributed in our society: some communities pay more of the costs, others receive more than their fair share of benefits.
This chapter examines the urban industrial problems faced by people of color. Environmental problems in these communities can best be understood in terms of the much-discussed "crisis of growth and development." People of color are the first to feel the irony of living in a country that represents 6 percent of the world's population and consumes 45 percent of its resources, including 60 percent of its energy resources.
Growth and development are sources both of wealth and destruction. Growth also reproduces inequality. Is it possible to limit growth and distribute goods more equitably? Hazel Henderson ( 1981, p. 7) contends that it is never a matter of growth vs. no growth. What is crucial is what is growing, what is declining, and what must be maintained. Uneven development and trade have shaped power relations between nations and individuals over the past three centuries. These relationships have been named in several ways: colonialism, imperialism, underdevelopment, internal colonialism, and institutional racism.
The most advanced stage of industrial development has been the most toxic, thanks particularly to the petroleum, electronics, and aerospace industries. Such industries have left a trail of horrors in commu