Fourth annual convergence, Fight Toxic Prisons, North Central College.
I’d like to start off by saying that it is a great pleasure and honor to share in the fourth annual Fight Toxic Prisons convergence in Gainesville, Florida. My hope is the fourth annual Fight Toxic Prisons convergence is jam-packed with social environmental justice activists, alongside with the guardians of the planet from numerous denominations and multiculturally diverse backgrounds that have joined us to participate in the fourth annual Fight Toxic Prisons convergence.
I strongly believe that we are at the end of times, witnessing the corporate destroyers poisoning and destroying our natural resources mankind inherited which were created to protect the planet, simultaneously safeguard the human element.
This issue doesn’t seem to have cut so cleanly right through the heart of the only utility we human beings ingest, that is enshrined in our state constitution, which the corporate raiders have exploited at the expense of the human population. As is evident throughout the replete continuous assaults our planet is suffering every waking day and night by the hands of the corporate raiders.
In the entitled book Anatomy of Environmental Racism, Robert D. Bullard stated one of the most potent charges eliciting the strongest reactions has been that of environmental racism. This phenomenon forces us to sharpen our understanding of the class divide, the concentration of toxins in communities of color and longstanding.
What’s in question, therefore, is not whether race constitutes a pretext for assaulting communities—which it indisputably does—but rather the political nature, the mechanisms that have led to its being cast in that role. “Here we are today, face to face with the class faces of racial oppression, beyond the historic implantation of racial classification to divide the working class,” said Theodore W. Allen, in The Intervention of the White Race.
There is a stark present day fact in the United States that the prevalence of working class occupations or statuses, including low ranking military, unemployed, and incarcerated, is substantially higher among Black people, as well as Latino and some Asian ethnicities, as well as Native Americans, than it is in the population as a whole.
At the same time, race-based thinking routinely serves the academic and media establishments as a surrogate for recognizing the impact of class. This has been particularly true in the post-civil rights era as targets for attaining institutional diversity have been met in large part by tapping the proportionately miniscule privileged sectors of oppressed ethnic groups.
This brings me to Walter Benn Michaels in, “The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignored Inequality.”
The majorities within those groups, meanwhile, gain no improvement. Policies to hold them down continue to be implemented, via mass incarceration associated with the War on Drugs. Michelle Alexander in “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” states in part, “With a Black president in office for two terms beginning in 2009, it became increasingly evident, that class takes precedence over race as the key external variable framing one’s life chances.”
This argument points to the likelihood that communities oppressed, have hitherto been perceived as racial grounds, may now become more receptive to a class analysis of their condition. The minorities make up across the nation is 13%, but the incarcerated population is comprised of about 87% Black, Hispanic, Asian and Indian ethnicities. We both know how this happened. This is no accident, but right out of the corporate design script.
Recently on BBC, they have covered some international news that have produced some startling results about where we are when it comes to the human effects of placing the planet’s environment in peril. The water walls are hardly a new problem across the nation and abroad. Blue gold is the new hotly debated issue of this century which confronts every human being on the planet. There was no coincidence that we are all here because we are conscientious human beings who are paying attention to the signs and unprecedented warnings. Our planet is exhaustedly screaming out: global warming.
Pennsylvania has begun a plan of action to begin testing some 300 drinking water supplies, which are the likeliest contaminated with Polyfluoroalkyl substances, which people know very little about. These chemicals can be found in clothing, firefighting foam, and nonstick cookware. PFAs are linked to a variety of cancers, liver ailments, and pregnancy complications. Did you know that the federal Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t regulate manmade chemical and drinking water supplies? Which are not routinely tested for it. The first step for this department of Environmental Protection acting to regulate the chemical.
In March 2019, a resident of Newbury township in York County took the initiative to test their own tap water supply for the chemical. That test returned combined PFAF slash PFOA levels of 186 parts per trillion. It’s far beyond the 70 parts per trillion limit established in an EPA health advisory. Recent research, however, indicates that even much smaller concentrations than 70 parts per trillion can be dangerous.
According to the Natural Resource Defense Council, said PFAF are so troubling because the chemical component bonds don’t break down in the environment. They are toxic to humans at very low levels and they spread quickly once they are introduced into water. These contaminants can cause really drastic widespread contamination because it’s a toxic chemical that moves quickly and lasts forever.
The science of drinking water is still in its infancy. Pennsylvania began regulating drinking water in 1905 and Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974. So best practices are constantly updated, as new contaminants are identified. One example, lead, which can lower IQ and cause a host of behavioral physical symptoms lessen from pipes until 1986. The budget cuts hurt this area. For several years, training was minimal, although, the department of Environmental Protection officials plans to redouble their efforts this year.
The water problems we are universally experiencing are undoubtedly rooted in politics and fused by twin combustions of greed and corruption by the elite corporate raiders. The questions I would like to pose to the entire audience: is today’s quest for resolving the impending water crisis likely to be better guided by more enlightened forces? Say commercial interests or consumer desires for better clean drinking water, for better health. Or will human society continue to meet an ancient and palpable enemy expressed by Mary Shelley’s famous character, i.e. the soul of Frankenstein. Said he: “I will penetrate into the recesses of nature. And so how she works in her hiding places. More, far more, will I achieve. Treading in the steps already marked. I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation. What had been the study and desires of the wisest men, since the creation of the world, is now within my grasp.”
The wreckage of the corporate raider’s actions is evidence by what they left behind for us to resolve, should be more than sufficient to answer the question satisfactorily. It is quite realistic to predict what potential human wisdom possess without being tuned into the proper education, knowledge would produce for a certainty. A legacy of calamity, catastrophe left to the rest of our general.
The proof of this is recorded. Water crisis is plaguing our planet by the imposition of toxins, pollution spilled into our oceans, rivers, streams, and local pipelines to utilize drinking water. You don’t have to worry about the sharks in the water. You have to worry about the pollution.
Without the environmental guardian’s intervention in these human affairs, one may of course be led to speculate sooner then, that a host of complex and perplexing problems confront human society, as it moves quickly into a new millennial. What to do about environmental problems? New and more daily plaques and diseases have emerged. Racism and poverty plague much of the planet. Human populations continue to explode, and it’s expected to reach 9 billion people in just a matter of a few decades.
Many of us, rightly question and wonder whether science and technology can create the perfect environmentally, friendly, safe society. Each age and era has always boasted about what they might accomplish. The creation of mankind is quite simple. Man’s complex problems are of his own devising. Nonetheless, this is but a start of an undertaking. I’d like to finish with this poignant quote. “Class is the most important thing in society, but race is not any less important. Inside the nation of prisoners: the voice and the face.”
Bryant Arroyo, for prisonradio.org.
(Sound of a cell door closing.) These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.