“Types” of Racism in the United States Today

racismAs the nation’s capital was about to be overrun by more than two dozen American Nazis yesterday, President Trump issued an official Presidential tweet condemning “all types” of racism.

What did he mean by “all types” of racism?  Possibly the terrible scourge of racism against oppressed white folk, which would make sense after his “very fine people on both sides” observation last year.

But, of course, it’s impossible to know what goes on in the President’s mind, so I’m going to provide him with examples of a couple of other “types of racism” that he can condemn if he’s really sincere about combating “all types” of racism.

Environmental Racism

We’ve written quite a bit about former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s attempt to repeal the Obama’s administration’s chemical plant safety regulation. Repealing a regulation requires a new regulation to repeal the old one. And among other analyses required by any new regulation, Executive Order 12898, issued in 1994, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations,” requires that agencies conduct an evaluation of “environmental justice” concerns that address any “disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations in the United States[.]”

And Pruitt’s Risk Management Plan repeal proposal complies with that Clinton-era Executive Order. What did they conclude? Hidden on page 80 of the Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) of the rollback proposal was this paragraph:

EPA concludes that there is evidence that risks from RMP facilities fall on minority and low-income populations, to a significantly greater degree than those risks affect other populations. Therefore, EPA believes that this action may have disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority populations, low-income populations and/or indigenous peoples, as specified in Executive Order 12898.

OK, good work identifying another type of racism.

“EPA concludes that there is evidence that risks from RMP facilities fall on minority and low-income populations, to a significantly greater degree than those risks affect other populations.”

So what actions are being taken to combat this “type” of racism?  Let’s check out Section 8.3 of the RIA, “Actions Taken to Facilitate ‘Fair Treatment.'”

Seems that no actions are being taken. Why? Because it turns out everything’s cool:

the loss of the benefit of potentially preventing some future accidental releases that might have been avoided by implementing the prevention program provisions of the Amendments rule, contrasted to the new benefit of avoiding potential security incidents that might have resulted from the open-ended emergency coordination and public information availability provisions of the Amendments.

Translation: The Trump administration’s repeal proposes to cut back on the chemical safety information that would be provided to emergency responders and the public — supposedly in order to reduce the risk of terrorism at chemical plants. (For example, a terrorist might discover that Acme Fertilizer sells fertilizers like  ammonium nitrate, anhydrous ammonia.) And reducing the risk of terrorism outweighs the (repealed) benefit of avoiding “future accidental releases.” In other words, as the RIA states, “accident risks may increase while security risks may decrease.”

Even though there the list of “accidental releases” in chemical plants is endless, while the list of releases caused by “security risks” is pretty much empty. In other words, history shows that we’re much more successful blowing ourselves up than terrorists are.

And then there’s this sentence, which I can only interpret as a failed attempt at regulatory humor:

To the extent that this rule results in either increases or reductions of risk to US populations overall, EPA anticipates that it will result in greater risks or risk reductions for minority communities and lower-income communities, since they bear a larger portion of the risk.  As EPA does not know the magnitude of risk changes, the extent to which risks faced by populations in close proximity to RMP facilities will increase or decrease is also unknown.

In other words, all of you dark skinned (and even poor white folk) living in the vicinity of chemical plants, just chill out. We don’t really know what whether this regulatory rollback will increase or decrease your risk, kill more of your or fewer of you, but whatever effect it has — good or bad — will hit you much harder than the rest of the country.

What did the Trump administration learn from the listening sessions they held on repealing the Obama chemical plant safety regulations?

Does this make sense to the affected minority and low-income communities? In the aftermath of President Obama’s Executive Order 13650 on Chemical Plant Safety and Security, OSHA, EPA and the Department of Homeland Security held a number of stakeholder listening sessions around the country — including areas near chemical plants in Louisiana, Texas and California — which informed much of Obama’s RMP regulation that is now being repealed.

Does Trump’s repeal also make sense to the affected communities? What did the Trump administration learn from the listening sessions they held on repealing the Obama chemical plant safety regulations?

Well, nothing. As the RIA states “Because this proposed rule does not impose any additional costs on affected communities, EPA did not conduct additional engagement activities associated with this proposed rulemaking.”

Electoral Racism

Carol Anderson, writing in The New York Times the other day, described the incredible lengths that Georgia Attorney General (and current Republican candidate for Governor) Brian Kemp has gone to keep minority citizens from voting.

For example:

He has begun investigations into organizations that registered nearly 200,000 new Asian-American and African-American voters — efforts that resulted in the first majority-black school board in a small town.

His investigations yielded no charges, no indictments, no convictions, despite years of probing, suspects’ losing their jobs and Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents knocking on doors. Yet the intimidation had an impact. An attorney from a targeted organization told a reporter: “I’m not going to lie; I was shocked. I was scared.”

And this:

Mr. Kemp also used Exact Match, a version of the infamous Crosscheck database, to put tens of thousands of citizens in electoral limbo, refusing to place them on the rolls if an errant hyphen, a stray letter or a typographical error on someone’s voter registration card didn’t match the records of the state’s driver’s license bureau or the Social Security office.

Using this method, Mr. Kemp blocked nearly 35,000 people from the voter rolls. Equally important, African-Americans, who made up a third of the registrants, accounted for almost 66 percent of the rejected applicants. And Asian-Americans and Latino voters were more than six times as likely as whites to have been stymied from registering.

So what is the Administration doing to fight this “type” of racism? According to an article in today’s New York Times

Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the department has filed legal briefs in support of states that are resisting court orders to rein in voter ID requirements, stop aggressive purges of voter rolls and redraw political boundaries that have unfairly diluted minority voting power — all practices that were opposed under President Obama’s attorneys general.

So, I’m back where I started. Still wondering exactly what other “types” of racism Donald Trump was talking about.

Environmental Protection Agency

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