A $1 billion environmental justice wake-up call in Jackson

  • 11.09.2022
  • Business Insider

Two years after George Floyd's murder sparked big promises from corporate boardrooms and political leaders to fight systemic racism, an environmental justice crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, is a reminder of its persistence.

More than 140,000 residents, the majority of whom are Black, don't have clean drinking water after a water treatment facility was damaged by severe flooding in late August. A similar failure happened last winter when a storm led to burst and frozen water pipes. These kinds of incidents are likely to become more frequent as the climate crisis intensifies.

Historians and infrastructure experts told The Washington Post that the water is rooted in racism. Starting in 1970, federal courts forced Jackson schools to desegregate and white families started to flee the city, shrinking the tax base and the public funding for infrastructure upgrades, Robert Luckett, a Jackson State University history professor, said. Jackson has since lost about 40,000 residents. Meanwhile, the majority of Mississippi's elected officials who decide how to dole out state and federal resources have been white.