Press "Enter" to skip to content

Toxic Communities – Lesson 1

Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility


Hello and welcome to Southern Fried Socialist and Lesson 1 of Toxic Communities by Dorceta E. Taylor. I am using New York University Press guide to teaching Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility. Toxic Communities draws on a number of historical case studies, zoning laws, court cases, and racially-motivated decisions that have led to minority and low-income communities being placed in unsafe areas with little to no way out.

Professor Taylor graduated from Yale University with doctorates in Sociology, Forestry, and Environmental Studies. She is Professor in the school of natural resources and environment at the University of Michigan. Professor Taylor also serves as Field of Studies Coordinator for the Environmental Justice Program.

What is Environmental Justice?

Big Idea:

Lesson 1 introduces you to the ideals and history of the Environmental Justice Movement. The author explains different concepts that you will encounter throughout the book. Such concepts, as – what forces constrain compel or encourage the movement of minorities.

The Introduction goes through the main topics of Toxic Communities which examines the Expulsion of minorities from desirable land and communities, Demolition of their neighborhoods, Relocation of minorities to segregated neighborhoods, Construction of minority neighborhoods in undesirable locations, how industrial processes Expose minorities and low income people to dangerous environmental conditions.

Essential Questions:

1. Why do minorities live adjacent to hazardous facilities or become exposed to
environmental hazards?
2. Why do they not move?
3. Who or what keeps them from moving?

Acronyms and Abbreviations

  • AAEI – African Americans for Environmental Justice
  • ACE – Alabamians for a Clean Environment
  • ACLU – American Civil Liberties Union
  • ACORN – Association of COmmunity Organizations for Reform NC
  • AFL – CIO – American Federation of Labor— Congress of Industrial Organizations
  • ARCO Atlantic Richfield Company
  • BFI – Browning-Ferris Industries
  • BIA – Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • CAC – Central Advisory Council
  • CDC – Centers for Disease Control
  • CERCLA –  Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation Liability Act
  • CHA – Chicago Housing Authority
  • CREB – Chicago Real Estate Board
  • DDE – dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene
  • DDT – dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane
  • DOE – Department of Energy
  • EDC – ethylene dichloride
  • E] – environmental justice
  • EIM – environmental justice movement
  • EPA – Environmental Protection Agency
  • FHA – Federal Housing Administration
  • FmHA – Farmers Home Administration
  • FTI – Federal Technologies, Incorporated
  • GAO – General Accounting Office / Government Accountability Office (after 2004)
  • GM – General Motors Company
  • HOLC – Home Owners’ Loan Corporation
  • HRS – Hazard Ranking System
  • HUD – Housing and Urban Development
  • IRA – Indian Reorganization Act
  • LDEQ – Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality
  • MAUP – Modifiable areal unit problem
  • mg/kg – milligrams per kilogram
  • MPHA – Myers Park Housing Association
  • MRS – monitored retrieval storage
  • NAACP – National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
  • NAREB – National Association of Real Estate Boards
  • ng/ ml – nanograms per milliliter
  • NIH – National Institutes of Health
  • NORCO – New Orleans Refining Company
  • NFL – National Priorities List
  • PCBs – polychlorinated biphenyls
  • PEON – Protect the Environment of Noxubee
  • PPm – parts per million
  • PWA – Public Works Administration
  • RCRA – Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
  • RECA – Radiation Exposure Compensation Act
  • RIA – Resources Industries of Alabama, Incorporated
  • R.I.S.E. – Residents Involved in Saving the Environment
  • RSEI – Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators
  • SCOPE – Sumter Countians Organized for the Protection of the Environment
  • TCE – trichloroethylene
  • TDH – Texas Department of Health
  • TRI – Toxics Release Inventory
  • TSCA – Toxic Substances Control Act
  • TSDF – toxic storage disposal facility
  • TVA – Tennessee Valley Authority
  • UCC – United Church of Christ
  • USPCI – United States Pollution Control Incorporated
  • VA – Veterans Administration
  • WMX – Waste Management

New York University Press Guide


Guided Reading : Introduction

  1. What were the two controversial claims of the environmental justice movement?
  2. Minority activists linked what two major components to the environmental issues?
  3. What term is used to describe the process in which minority and low income communities face disproportionate environmental harms and limited environmental benefits?
  4. What two aspects have led to a robust are of research and inquiry into Environmental Justice?


Taylor, Dorceta E. Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility. New York University Press, 2014.
New York University Press “ Toxic Communities Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility INSTRUCTOR’S GUIDE.”, 2016, pp. 1–13., Utilizing NYUP Toxic Community Lesson Plan.