Racism 101: poverty, race, and health threats
One thing I did not explicitly mention in my last post was my frustration over the connection between poverty, minority racial/ethnic and immigrant status, and living in an unhealthy environment being treated as a new idea.
Again, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, I thought this has been covered during the ’70s, particularly with the lead paint and neurological damage connection. If your (minority/immigrant) kids are eating paint chips in an inner city tenement, that’s horrible, but also a symptom of a much larger problem.
It doesn’t matter if the area is rural or urban; there are just more people to get hurt in a dangerous urban environment. Poor people are more likely to have toxins from mining, refineries, chemical plants, poorly maintained old building materials, toxic waste dumping, violence rooted in desperation and helplessness, etc. where they live. Poor people are more likely to live in crowded conditions which encourage all kinds of illnesses to spread, besides the same kinds of distress produced by overcrowded animal cages. And they’re disproportionately likely to be from non-White and/or immigrant backgrounds.
That’s even before we factor in all the stress from living in a bad environment, and from the way other people and institutions treat you, as a serious health risk.
That’s not news; it’s straight out of Racism 101. And somehow I doubt that this epidemiological approach will be used to work on the actual threats to people’s health, much less improve poor people’s living conditions. Especially given the current political climate, in which “one in four men (23 percent)” will openly admit they “do not think it is their responsibility to help the poor”, and “Only 13 percent of Americans…correctly credit the Bible as the source of Proverbs 31:8-9, the Contemporary English Version of which states: ‘You must defend those who are helpless and have no hope. Be fair and give justice to the poor and homeless.'”.
I might be less aggravated if I thought this research might help anyone in any way, ever. With all the false scarcity ethic going around, it’s more likely to divert further resources from actually doing things that help. It looks remarkably like a distraction tactic, which is too likely to make a lot of privileged people feel like something is Really Being Accomplished.