There is no doubt that the poor live in bad neighborhoods. If they weren’t poor, they’d move someplace nicer. Neighborhoods that smell bad, are unsafe, have falling down houses and are near industry are invariably going to be more affordable than some nice suburban green stretch. This isn’t some evil capitalist plot against poor people, its economic fact, and has been true for all time in all places.
Sadly, economic logic is has never been something taught in San Francisco schools (a fact to which I can personally attest). Instead, class and race warfare is alive and well:
When it comes to walking tours of San Francisco, energetic tourists can choose among dozens. They can take a literary tour of North Beach, stroll past the famous Victorian mansions on Alamo Square, view murals in the Mission or wander through the colorful alleys of Chinatown.
But one walking tour is different. It’s in Hunters Point, a part of town largely ignored by publishers of tourist guides. And it’s not centered on art, architecture or food. It’s all about the pollutants and chemicals that contribute to what local public health authorities consider a neighborhood health crisis of major proportion.
It’s the Toxic Tour — and if it doesn’t sound like fun, that’s the point. It’s intended to show participants — mostly school groups — what happens when a largely poor, minority population lives on a swath of land containing 325 toxic sites.
“It’s an equation that doesn’t start to make that much sense health-wise,” explained Rachel Pomerantz, 29, who leads the tours on behalf of the Hunters Point nonprofit Literacy for Environmental Justice.
On a recent morning, she huddled in the fog just outside the Hunters Point Shipyard with a group of teenagers from Downtown High.
She told them that more than 90 percent of residents of the broader Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood are minorities and that many of them live in poverty. She added that the neighborhood’s residents, who make up about 5 percent of San Francisco’s population, contend with a third of the city’s industry and 30 percent of its hazardous waste sites.
“Is that a coincidence?” she asked them. “Have you guys ever heard of the term environmental racism before?”
“Does that still go on?” a boy asked her.
“What do you think?” she responded. (Emphasis mine.)
The news story’s author has the intelligence to point out that “claims of environmental racism are controversial and debatable.” However, the captive audience of students receiving this Marxist, race-based cant aren’t reading the paper — they’re getting nonsense right from the horse’ mouth.
Please don’t read this and come away believing that I think it’s okay for people to live in toxic waste dumps. I think this is a problem of poverty that a humane society should try to addresss. However, I don’t the problem has its roots in racism or class warfare. Instead, it’s simple economic reality, and affects all poor people in all societies, regardless of their racial make-up as compared to the richer people in their community.