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Black communities are at greater risk from the effects of the climate crisis – on top of police brutality and systemic racism. Black Americans are three times more likely to die from environmental-related asthma than any other population.

In fact, many Black Americans are getting sick merely because they live in poorer neighborhoods. Many majority-Black areas are likely to be overpoliced as well as lack the climate crisis safeguards that White neighborhoods enjoy. 

In 2016, White communities’ median wealth accumulation was over 10 times that of Black communities. White families can buy homes in communities that are more protected against the effects of our man-made climate crisis. 

Police brutality is, of course, another factor in the health of Black communities. One study has linked violence from police brutality to a myriad of health issues, including heart disease and depression. 

Police brutality is sadly commonplace in many Black communities. George Floyd died at the hands of a violent police officer. Breonna Taylor’s murder included multiple shots by law enforcement. 

Justice for police brutality is often uphill battle. George Floyd’s case hinged on video footage of the murder. The men who murdered Breonna Taylor’s were not charged for her death.

Fighting back against police brutality and the climate crisis

Unfortunately, the United States supports white supremacy and systemic racism — and also major oil and gas organizations. Several United States Senators completed a study and found that our increasingly right-wing judiciary often supports companies that pollute our environments and increase climate crisis. 

Black neighborhoods are more polluted than white neighborhoods. Christopher W. Tessum, a professor at the University of Illinois, noted that Black communities face more environmental concerns than White neighborhoods.

However, Black communities can fight back against police brutality and the effects of climate crisis. A study from the Human Rights Watch suggested the following: maintaining a functioning mental health system, promoting economic development and opportunity in poor neighborhoods, and improving schools and providing afterschool programs that cultivate productive talents of our youth. 

Black communities can also make environmental and social changes — with help. According to Nikea Pittman, a structural biologist, a supportive scientific community can help. “We need collaboration in academia to tackle these problems. Black scientists can’t carry the burden on their own.”

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...

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