Baltimore Environmental Film Series: Marathon for Justice
Monday, September 25
6:30pm-8:30pm in McGuire Hall West
About the event:
Marathon for Justice, a film by Empathy Works Films, is a new documentary that delves into environmental injustice in the United States, in three parts: air, water, and land. Emphasis is placed on the role of environmental racism, and the disproportionate impact of hazardous facilities on people of color. Case studies include air pollution from oil refineries in Philadelphia, PA, water pollution from uranium mining operations on Native American Reservations in New Mexico, and broken treaties with Native Americans in North Dakota and South Dakota, including the Black Hills and the Dakota Access Pipe Line. Health disparities and basic human rights to clean air and clean water are explored, and the legacy of broken treaties as well as the erosion of the sovereignty of the Native American nations are highlighted. Panelists will explore the themes of the film through their own particular disciplinary lenses. Panelists include: Celia Paris (Political Science), Maria Brown (Biology and Sociology), Meghan Page (Philosophy), and Joshua Hendrick (Sociology).
Messina Theme Connection:
This film explores the theme of The Good Life by presenting environmental justice case studies in Philadelphia, New Mexico, and South Dakota, demonstrating the disproportionate impact of environmental degradation on marginalized communities in the United States. The film connects to the Good Life, because often the values that we attach to the good life, such as wealth and prosperity, along with consumerism, lead to the prevention of the good life for others, who experience environmental injustices that are the byproducts of our pursuit of the material world.
Resources for Attendees:
“I Didn’t Come Here to Lose”: How a Movement Was Born at Standing Rock
The Legacy of Abandoned Uranium Mines in the Grants Mineral Belt, New Mexico
Questions for Discussion and Reflection:
1. Texas Southern University Professor Robert Bullard, Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, says that “some communities have the ‘wrong complexion for protection’.” However, EPA’s Office of Civil Rights has never found a case of environmental discrimination, and more than 90% of the claims have been dismissed, according to the Center for Public Integrity’s 2013 study, with the majority of claims rejected without pursuing investigations. What do you think can be done, in light of the clear cases of environmental racism that has occurred (film, other case studies like Flint, Michigan)?
2. Professor Bullard points out that people of color breathe 38% more polluted air than whites, but that it is difficult to tie a particular chemical to a particular disease, so difficult to sue for damages. How can you employ the precautionary principle to create guidelines for industries that pollute? How could you ensure that the guidelines were followed?
3. EJ Net has several definitions related to environmental justice: 1) environmental equity: poison people equally, and 2) environmental justice: stop poisoning people, period. Given those striking definitions, in what ways can you, personally, impact the path towards environmental justice?
4. How far should the environmental justice movement go? Should we consider the entire ecosystem, and go beyond human beings to encompass all beings into the fold of environmental justice?
5. Consider your own patterns of consumption: do any of them contribute to the problem of environmental toxins? What are some ways you could change these patterns?