Tag Archives: scholars

This is What Environmental Racism Looks Like

Environmental racism was one of the most surprising concepts I encountered during my undergrad. It had just never occurred to me that where and how we polluted our environment would be intentionally arranged to affect some racial communities more than others.

In the States there have been several famous instances of environmental racism.

After the Second World War, for example, Chicago kindly provided African American veterans the opportunity to live in a housing community built atop an abandoned landfill. After serving their country and surviving the war these veterans came home to Altgeld Gardens Homes, a community that would have significantly high cancer rates because of exposure to toxic chemicals.

Then, in the 1970s and 80s, there was the Warren County PBC Landfill case, when the state of North Carolina decided to bury soil that had been contaminated with toxic polychlorinated biphenyls in Warren Country, a community with primarily black residents and a much lower income rate than the rest of the state.

With the very likely possibility of their drinking water being contaminated by the toxic material, residents, civil rights groups, environmental leaders, and clergymen all joined together to protest the state’s decision…

…and then got arrested.

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Lisa Nakamura Part 2: Navajo Circuits and the “Nimble Fingers” of Asian Women

In my last post, I told you a little bit about Lisa Nakamura, her research, and the talk she gave at my university about Tumblr activism. I also promised to tell you about her second lecture the next time I wrote.

Both of Nakamura’s lectures were about digital media, but unlike her first talk, her second presentation focused on the physical material of digital technology.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, or recently time-travelled to 2015, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that most of your digital hardware came from Asia. You may even be familiar with the way Asian women have been racialized as innately predisposed to factory work because of their “supposed docility, nimble fingers and attention to mind-numbing detail”.

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Click on the image to view the full infographic.

However, you might be surprised to learn that this stereotype has been applied to women of colour ever since the digital revolution. In her paper on “Indigenous Circuits: Navajo Women and the Racialization of Early Electronics Manufacture”  Nakamura examines the way digital factory work is both gendered and racialized. She refers to the work of Karen Hossfeld when she insists that

“…by the eighties in Silicon Valley, electronic assembly had become, not just women’s work but women of color’s work.” (290)

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