The very unbalanced numbers of people of color who are incarcerated in our prison system — many of them for very small crimes — speaks volumes. This has long term consequences not only for the person who is imprisoned, but also for their families. During the emerging news coverage of Katrina, or Flint Michigan I remember being perplexed and then horrified as I realized that so many of those faces were black. It was only in the last few years that I learned about environmental racism. People of color living near landfills, industrial plants, and having no trees to cool the area or give connection with the natural world. White people could protest and be heard, whereas anyone else would be ignored and dismissed.
It is powerful to hear about these situations not only as a history lesson, but to hear experiences directly from those who have been oppressed. It is appalling that I did not hear about the Japanese interment camps anywhere (!) until after I graduated from college. Even later I heard a program on NPR about Native American children who were taken from their parents. It was not until today that I learned about “gasoline baths” and the use of DDT on innocent people crossing from the Mexican border. I was taught that America was the great “Melting Pot”. The part I didn’t learn is how so many in that pot got burned.