Monday, March 1, 2010

Little Village Environmental Justice Organization

The environmental justice (EJ) movement draws from Cronon’s deconstruction of the mutually exclusive dichotomy between humans and nature. In contrast to the mainstream “go-green” movement, the EJ movement focuses on social justice, conceptualizing humans as one with nature. Whereas conservationists see nature as a space untouched by humans—and thus advocate for the preservation of national parks and oceans—EJ activists fight for green spaces and better air quality for the inner-city neighborhoods of working-class people of color.

The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) in Chicago is currently fighting against Chicago Transit Authority’s doomsday service cuts and layoffs. These cuts disproportionately affect African-American and Latino working-class individuals who—because they do not have the luxury of a car—depend on public transportation. Gregory’s “The Black Metropolis” and DeGenova’s “Locating a Mexican Chicago in the Space of the U.S. Nation-State” trace the reasons for and the history of these groups’ migrations. Following that trajectory, LVEJO publicizes the ignored structural discrimination against black and Latino riders in Chicago today.

Doomsday cuts affect not only the bus riders, but the bus workers as well. Dabaki’s “Martyrs and Monuments” highlights the early labor movement and its repercussions in Chicago. Although the majority of today’s labor activists are not German anarchists but rather people of color, LVEJO echoes some of these anarchists’ critiques of capitalism and private property, privileging the individual worker over governmental and corporate institutions.

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