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How Climate Change Impacts The Rights Of People Of African Descent

It’s well known that climate change disproportionately affects the US population who live in low-income communities. The latest report from Capstone specifically researched the effect that climate change has on the rights of people of African descent. And the findings were equally insightful and disappointing.

In this report, a person of African descent (PAD) is determined as someone who is of African origin. This includes people who are descendants of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade or more recent migrants.

These rights include:

  • The right to life
  • The right to health
  • The right to adequate housing
  • The right to adequate food
  • The right to education
  • The right to work
  • The right to participate in public affairs

 

Four case studies were used for this study, so it should be noted that even though the ramifications of these climate change events were local, the trends and patterns identified are far reaching.

1. LIVING IN LOCATIONS THAT ARE CHEAP AND RISKY AREAS

Whether a PAD lived in an urban or rural, the various outcomes on their rights are a consequence of a history of discrimination practices that lead to people settling in a location considered cheap and risky. These discrimination practices include housing policies and deprivation of economic power.

2. AREAS POPULATED WITH AFRO-DESCENDANTS ARE SUBJECT TO ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM

Extractive and polluting industries are located in places inhabited by afro-descendants with less political power. It was also found in these areas that people dealt with poor infrastructure and housing.

3. AFRO-DESCENDANTS HAVE A SYSTEMATIC DISADVANTAGE

Issues were identified with the way that the State engaged with afro-descendants. A lack of participation or remediation by the State was pinpointed. For example in New Orleans, the post-hurricane response highlighted a failure of the state to respond to the needs of Afro-Americans.

4. CLIMATE CHANGE ADDS ANOTHER LAYER TO DISCRIMINATION

It was found that climate change contributes to the accumulation of discriminations. It was shown to bring out and exacerbate existing forms of discrimination. Climate change, instead of being its own entity, comes as an additional layer to build on existing histories of violence and oppression.

5. HIDDEN SYSTEMATIC RACISM EMPHASISED DURING CLIMATE EMERGENCIES

During Hurricane Katrina, the slow response from the government was perceived by many to be race-driven. Not only does this lie in the immediate response, but as a continuation of a failure to invest in policies that would have minimized the victims in low-income areas.

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