UNEQUAL PROTECTION

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND COMMUNITIES OF COLOR

This anthology explores the history of environmental racism (the locating of an unfair share of toxic hazards in communities of color) and provides case studies from around the country of blatant discrimination. Bullard, who served on President Clinton's environmental transition team, offers an overview of some early struggles. Among them is the battle that the African-American community of Triana, Ala., faced beginning in 1978 when it discovered that Indian Creek, a local source of fish and water, was highly contaminated with DDT from a nearby plant that had shut down in 1970. Eventually, the town reached a financial settlement, a rarity in such cases. The book also tells of the fight to ban the dumping of PCBs into a landfill in Warren County, N.C., the poorest county in the state; of the development of an African-American neighborhood of Carver Terrace in Texarkana, Tex., on top of an old wood-treatment plant and its subsequent placement on the Superfund National Priorities List; of a lead smelter allowed to pollute the largely African- American community of West Dallas; of the creation of ``cancer alley'' by the petrochemical industry along the Baton Rouge/New Orleans corridor; and of the impact of the energy industry on Black Mesa, inhabited by both Navajos and Hopis. The final section is a call to action and examines some emerging networks and alliances in the environmental justice movement. While the book is a good primer on the movement, its real strength is in the individual community stories. The essays are uneven—some dramatic, some dry—and a few are old and could have benefited from an update (e.g., the Environmental Health Network is now in Virginia, not Louisiana). But despite these flaws, Unequal Protection is likely to be an eye-opener—both to those who are not aware of discriminatory environmental policies and to those who are.

Pub Date: May 9, 1994

ISBN: 0-87156-450-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1994

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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