Can the environment be racist?
Can the people who some believe control the environment be racist?
Can a company that provides jobs to a city, county or state be environmental racist?
After reading a piece published in MLive I am not quite sure what “environmental racism” is. I am sure others feel the same way and perhaps someone could help us understand the concept.
The Kalamazoo City Commission has been debating a tax abatement request by Graphic Packaging International (GPI). One wants 5 years the other wants to offer them a 1-year abatement.
According to Investopedia:
The purpose of an abatement is to encourage development or economic activity within a city or community. Governments may also offer abatements to prevent industries with high employment from leaving the community.
It appears the city commission is having difficulty getting past the idea of “environmental racism” and GPI somehow being involved. That apparently needs to be decided before they even settle on whether to give them an abatement or not and if so for how long.
City Commissioner Eric Cunningham stated:
“Environmental racism happened in Kalamazoo”
That seems to come out of nowhere. He then went on to mention something about redlining.
According to Investopedia, the definition of redlining is:
Redlining is a discriminatory practice that puts services (financial and otherwise) out of reach for residents of certain areas based on race or ethnicity. It can be seen in the systematic denial of mortgages, insurance, loans, and other financial services based on location (and that area’s default history) rather than on an individual’s qualifications and creditworthiness. Notably, the policy of redlining is felt the most by residents of minority neighborhoods.
Okay, what does that have to do with GPI expanding its presence in Kalamazoo and creating more jobs? It appears they may be connecting the fact that the manufacturing process at GPI creates an odor in and around the plant.
What does that have to do with racism?
On the order front Tom Olstad, from GPI said that GPI is working hard to reduce its “odor footprint” at a great cost to the company.
According to the article, not wanting to be left out on calling someone or something racist Vice Mayor Patrese Griffin said “over the course of time its no accident the large businesses are located where they’re located, because it is a function of redlining.” She then went on to say:
“There’s never a great case to kill anybody. There’s never a great case to cause harm”
Kill “anybody” or “cause harm”, what is she talking about?
Environmental racism, odor, kill anybody, cause harm all in a simple discussion about a tax abatement.
Good luck Kalamazoo!