Just as those that have been following me since the beginning of this project, I have learned quite a lot about environmental racism over the last month or so. Although my growth in this class has included that new knowledge on the intersections of racial justice and environmentalism, I have also learned a great deal about how I critically think and write as a function of that thinking.
My early doubts about environmental racism’s legitimacy in part drew me to the topic, as I wanted to challenge myself and discover a controversial topic in a meaningful way. Although social issues can often be discussed in the public sphere as a matter of opinion, approaching racism from a social science perspective allowed me access to a litany of “harder” evidence in lieu of at-times biased personal anecdotes of those affected.
By jumping into a topic I had little knowledge other than doubt about, I allowed myself to grow intellectually. I feel much more comfortable going to data and sociological research about perceived trends rather than to opinion pieces and Tumblr blogs. Although those are, without a doubt, useful and valuable contributions to any conversation about environmental racism, social science allows a more nuanced and facts-first approach to controversial topics.
In general, this project has allowed me to become a more methodical thinker when discussing social problems. Thinking about environmental racism started with my own meandering thoughts on the reasons behind PCB dumping in Warren County and ended near my discussion of the geographical and demographic makeup of Los Angeles and how pollution was reflected along racial lines. The quality of my analysis increased as my understanding of social research increased. Overall, this has been an amazing experience that I know I will continue to reflect upon as I continue to think critically about social problems further on in my academic career and in my life.
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