Environmental racism: South L.A.

By Elizabeth
October 12

Growing up in Los Angeles can be very overwhelming. There are over 4 million people living in the city of Los Angeles. The amount of traffic that people have to deal with due to this population is insane. I never really noticed until I started getting older because I never really paid attention to it; I was used to seeing that part of the city so often. I realized this is actually a problem. Something that people may tend to forget about South LA is that it is a popular area where almost all shipping from nearby stores and companies products are imported. It is also an area where many of the manufacturers’ warehouses are held. Therefore every morning I am so used to seeing a cargo truck or train with a company’s product. Growing up in South LA but attending school in a different area really taught me how different the environment around me was. While I was in school I was not surrounded by so much pollution. One of my realizations of this big problem in the community was noticing all the air pollution that was increasing each day. Especially when the biggest highways pass through the community. For example “From the traffic pollution constantly emitted from the 10, 110, and 105 freeways, to the air toxins released from industrial facilities, most South L.A. residents are unwillingly bombarded with a wide range of harmful toxins. ” Studies show that because the air quality is so bad it has caused a rise in people suffering from lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke due to the everyday toxins we come in contact with on a daily basis. One of the reasons why this is such a huge problem to our community is not only because it affects the environment we live in but also targets the areas that are predominately populated by black and Latino people. Causing environmental racism that leads back to history when these communities were first being built and created it was a time when we black and Latino folk did not have a say of what we could and could not do. When people were first beginning the beautiful city of Los Angeles that we know today, you can say that nothing really played in our favor. People that were Asian, black, or Latino were prohibited from owning homes in certain areas.”By World War I, deed restrictions were helping to define the insulated, middle-class world of Los Angeles’s Westside. At the same time, acting as private Jim Crow legislation, deed restrictions were also building a ‘white wall’ around the Black community on Central Avenue.” Due to the pre-planning of communities is what caused the issues that are still dealt with today from discrimination on a daily and unfair treatment by the law due to our communities’ circumstances. For example, many of the issues that we deal with daily in our communities just come to show how unfair and unhealthy this is to us. For example, many of the students that attend schools in South LA do not receive the same funding as schools in different areas such as a school in Beverly Hills or “better Area”. For example, “Districts with 55 percent or more of their enrollments made up of low-income and other high-needs students receive a substantial amount of extra funds for each student above the 55 percent threshold. ” This shows how they are better funded than ones of lower-income public schools in our area.

The truth of the matter is that we have been given a responsibility to better the actions that are taken in our communities such as violence and poor living. Why should we take responsibility for the actions of others? Decisions that were made for us without question? People might try to argue that things have changed, that us being minorities in the present-day does not play a big role as it used to. I would disagree, saying that would be ignorant since the whole world we live in was built on a system of oppression by whites. It is proven through all of history, starting from the genocide of indigenous people, to the slave trade. Our ancestors where our roots stem from, what makes our appearance and culture different from one another. Since the beginning of time when white people began to “discover” America, they made policies and laws that played in their favor to take from people’s land and destroy their homes. As the saying goes “history repeats itself” so with that being said.


Freedberg, L. (2019, February 19). California’s school funding flaws make it difficult for districts to meet teacher demands. Retrieved from EdSource website: https://edsource.org/2019/californias-school-funding-flaws-make-it-more-difficult-for-districts-to-meet-teacher-demands/608824

Shankar, M. (2014, November 14). Land Use in South L.A.: A Legacy of Environmental Crime. Retrieved from KCET website: https://www.kcet.org/shows/departures/land-use-in-south-la-a-legacy-of-environmental-crime

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *