Press "Enter" to skip to content

Toxic Communities Lesson 3

Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility Lesson 3

Chapter 2 “Disproporitonate Siting”: Claims of Racism and Discrimination

Hello and welcome to Southern Fried Socialist and Lesson 2 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.

Big Idea:

Professor Taylor examines the claim of disproportionate siting, racism, and discrimination in the following chapter.

Essential Questions:

  1. What are the main arguments behind the Disproportionate Siting and Discrimination Thesis?
  2. Why do some scholars find zip code analysis a problematic way of analyzing data around hazardous facilities?
  3. What are the main points of disagreement between scholars on this issue?


  • Arroyo –  a steep-sided gully cut by running water in an arid or semiarid region.
  • Demographics –  relating to the dynamic balance of a population especially with regard to density and capacity for expansion or decline
  • Disproportionately to an extent that is too large or too small in comparison with something else
  • Emanating – issue or spread out from a source, “Flowers Emanate fragrance.”
  • Hypothesis an assumption or Question Asked, made for the sake of argument
  • Microsegregation – clustering
  • Noise Pollution – is the disturbing noise with harmful impact on the activity of human or animal life.
  • “Spatial Unit of Analysis” – national, state region, county, zip code, census tract, census block groups, etc.
  • Thesisa statement or theory that is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proveda long essay or dissertation involving personal research, written by a candidate for a college degree.
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE) – waste product, a colorless volatile liquid used as a solvent.


Exercise 1: Before listening to the Guided Reading, read the following questions and respond in your own writing. Sharing is up to you.

Today, we have the guided reading from Chapter 2 of Toxic Communities. In this chapter, titled “Disproportionate Sitting: Claims of Racism and Discrimination”, Taylor explores the relationship between race and class discrimination, and the exposure to environmental hazards.

  1. What is your opinion of Environmental Racism at this moment?
  2. Have you, or someone in your family – experienced environmental racism?
  3. How do you believe, communities subjected to environmental racism, would deal during a natural disaster?

Exercise 2: Video; Environmental Racism &  TCE. Sheila Holt-Orsted in Contamination and a Crusade states “her family wasn’t properly warned after toxic waste at a nearby landfill polluted their well water. She is now battling cancer, and the officials who refute her allegations of environmental racism.”

Contamination and a Crusade from Pierre Kattar on Vimeo.


CHAPTER! (dragged)

Guided Reading Chapter 2

Chapter Graphs and Figures:

Scan Oct 10, 17 (dragged)

Scan Oct 10, 17 (dragged) 1

Critical Thinking

Guided Reading Questions:

  1. Environmental Justice studies claim what three factors explain why has hazardous facilities are located in minority and lower income neighborhoods?
  2. 4 out of 5 of the city’s __________________ were located in predominantly black neighborhood while the fifth was found in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood.
  3. Using the “References” link below, look up – and explain “U.S GAO.1983”.
  4. The _________________ has been a major source of contention and Environmental Justice research since it’s inception.
  5. What does “MAUP” stand for?
  6. Write 5 examples of Noise Pollution.
  7. What are 2 ways in which Noise Pollution harms the environment.
  8. Do you believe race plays a role in where hazardous material goes?
  9. What dangerous chemical were Hispanics exposed to in South Tucson after Hughes Aircraft and other industries dumped waste in the desert arroyos?

Here & Now:

  1. Do you Believe Houston, Little Rock and Columbus –  have noise pollution?
  2. How did Racist decisions, or lack there of, affect Houston’s impoverished areas when they experienced massive flooding during Hurricane Harvey?
  3. Think about Puerto Rico, do you believe there is signs of Environmental Racism?
  4. In Texas and Florida, Houston especially- Do you think rescue efforts were affected by Racism?
  5. Volunteer or Donate to relief efforts in Puerto Rico!!

Exercise 3, Videos; After listening to the chapter and going through some questions lets take everything we learned and check out the following videos – as you watch these, ask yourself – What are the common themes? What are happening to the people affected? Is this an isolated issue? Is this Fair?


Due to me not being able to dedicate the time to write the references all out- one by one, I have photo copied the back of “Toxic Communitiesreference section and index section. I have added that to the lesson file, and will always link to the bottom of posts. As I go through guided readings, I will mention areas where there are references included. PDF References are alphabetically listed.