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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Racism, inequality is literally in the very air we breathe

Raw Story - Study: People of color breathe air that is 38 percent more polluted than white people’s
Raw Story: A study released by the University of Minnesota this week indicated that people of color are exposed to air that is 38 percent more polluted than the air breathed by white people.

In an interview with The Minnesota Post, the study’s lead researcher, Julian Marshall, an associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Minnesota, said that “the main [factors in how polluted the air breathed in was] are race and income, and they both matter. In our findings, however, race matters more than income.”

When Marshall compared the exposure gap between high-income Hispanics and low-income whites, for example, the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations were still higher among high-income Hispanics.

“We were quite surprised to find such a large disparity between whites and nonwhites related to air pollution,” Marshall told The Minnesota Post. “Especially the fact that this difference is throughout the U.S., even in cities and states in the Midwest.”
That income inequality is a factor in the purity of the air you breathe is nothing new. When it comes to polluting industries, people are protected by their wealth and power — you’re never going to see an incinerator or a fracking site move in next door to a multi-million dollar mansion. This is one of the ways in which income inequality is a very real problem that creates very real dangers. It’s not about people being “jealous” of rich people — despite what Republicans and blowhards on Fox News tell you — it’s about very real dangers that people at the bottom of the ladder face every day. If we really were a society dedicated to equality, the poor person’s health would be as much a concern as the rich person’s. They voices would be equal. But they aren’t — and people are literally and inarguably suffering because of it.

The disparities in race paint an even darker picture. There, it’s not as much about income, but about status. People of color breathe dirtier air because they’re automatically lower on the societal ladder, regardless of income. These are both very real problems and the people who bring them up aren’t just bellyaching. Conservatives who talk about free market solutions should take a closer look at what this market does and ask themselves if the people at the bottom rung — measured by income, race, or both — are by any stretch of the imagination free.

Or are they just worthless peasants in a nation that’s increasingly governed by a new aristocracy based on income and a racist class system? When working people have to literally consume the waste of the rich, calling those working people “free” is a ridiculous joke.

Here’s your “trickle down economics.” That’s not money that’s trickling down.

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