Pollution continues to affect Bayview-Hunters Point residents
February 29, 2008 9:00 AM
Students and faculty filled SF State's Seven Hills Conference Center Thursday night for a teach-in titled, "Demand Environmental Justice." The seminar focused on how modern racism has pushed minorities into polluted communities.
"Ground zero" for the environmental justice movement is San Francisco's Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, said keynote speaker Minister Christopher Muhammad. Pollution left over from the area's industry continues to cause health problems for those who live there.
"It's San Francisco's 'dirty little secret," Muhammad said. "People are more concerned about losing [the 49ers] than a population of poor people."
SF State professor Antwi Akom explained how the industry takes the "path of least resistance" when choosing a place to build, leading pollution-creating industry to places like the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood. He compared Marin and Oakland, asking listeners to consider the expected outcry for the upper-class suburban county and the relative response for the minority populations of Oakland.
Akom spent much of his time explaining how racism still manifests in modern society. While some have a "racism 900" level of understanding, Akom said he needed to address those who were still at the "racism 101" level.
"We need to be a more color-conscious society" he said. "By not talking about race, we end up making race matter more."
Muhammad also highlighted the importance of youth involvement in any revolutionary movement, encouraging the current generation to seek out and connect with the "civil rights generation."
"Young people have always led the movement," he said. "There is a disconnect between the civil rights generation and the hop hop generation."
One attending student, 24-year-old Dorian Jones, was passionately relaying the night's information through her cellphone on the way to the bus on 19th Avenue.
"He basically tied everything together," Jones, a psychology major, said of Muhammad.
"We can be using the skills of the civil rights generation and our technology. We grew up in globalization," she said.
SF State's Department of Africana Studies and College of Ethnic Studies sponsored the event.
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