Packing them In: An Archaeology of Environmental Racism in Chicago, 1865-1954
Sylvia Hood Washington
Lexington Books, Lanham 2005
ISBN 0739105728

This book by Sylvia Washington adds a vital perspective to the topic of environmental history in the United States.

Washington recounts the history of Chicago's poor, working class, and ethnic minority neighborhoods that suffered disproportionately negative environmental impacts and related health problems. She gives an account of the history of environmental activism occurring in the marginalized groups which predates the contemporary Environmental Justice Movement. The perspective she presents reflects her firsthand exposure to environmental racism as well and the accounts of hundreds of African Americans across the United States. In her text, Washington notes the pervasive silence about the long-term reactions of environmentally disenfranchised groups and how this silence prolongs the myth of environmental illiteracy, complacency, and inactivity among ethnic groups.

She provides an in-depth interpretation of the social, political, and administrative policies that have been informed by race over the centuries that have resulted in environmental inequalities and discusses the processes of pollution as the result of legal and illegal waste disposal done by industry, politicians, landlords and cities.

This work is essential for anyone who wants to gain concrete understanding of environmental marginalization based on race, culture and class.

© 2005 Pluri Vox Media Corp.

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