We enjoy our cars, our homes, our stuff, and the wastes and the toxic chemicals and pollutants used to create or which are a result of our shiny stuff go “away” somewhere that we don’t really have to think about. But there is no “away.” The waste processing plants, the oil refineries, the chemical plants – those are somewhere, and usually that somewhere is in a low-income and/or “minority” neighborhood.
Many schools are teaching kids about recycling and going “green,” but often the issue of environmental racism isn’t addressed. Yet, it’s an important issue that affects everyone. Here are two activities from Teaching Tolerance for teaching kids about environmental racism:
Environmental racism is a concept that’s challenging for younger kids to grasp. The activity Introducing Kids to the Idea of Environmental Racism uses the more general issue of fairness as a springboard to help connect students with the concept of the inequality inherent in environmental racism and then offers them more information and a means for taking positive action.
Progressive City Planners is an activity for middle school students that asks them to “build” their own city and consider where they’re going to establish different elements, from parks and libraries to waste facilities and industrial plants that spew environmental hazards. Then students compare their city with those in the real world.
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