Unequal Protection Summary

Unequal Protection

UNEQUAL PROTECTION emerged from the First People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit Meeting held in 1992. Robert D. Bullard, the collection’s editor, is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Riverside, and served as a member of President Clinton’s Environmental Justice Transition team, helping to prepare the Executive Order on Environmental Justice signed by President Clinton on February 11, With this book, Bullard provides further advocacy for communities of color victimized by “unequal protection.”

The book is organized into three main sections. Part 1 gives an overview and recounts some early struggles against “environmental racism.” Part 2 recounts more recent struggles of communities to survive their status as environmental “sacrifice zones.” Part 3 discusses the importance and fine points of networking and coalition-building. Throughout the book, three points receive emphasis. First, the mainstream environmental movement was slow to pick up on the social justice issue, but now is becoming more sympathetic. Conversely, victimized communities of color have begun pursuing an overall environmental policy which puts greater emphasis on conservation and clean technologies. Second, the formation of grassroots, community organizations is indispensable for communities of color, since they are systematically underrepresented in mainstream American politics. Third, diverse communities of color must overlook differences and learn to work together in order to increase their clout.

While the quality of the book’s articles is uneven and the hard data that readers unacquainted with this issue might require is mostly lacking, this volume provides plenty of valuable information and an occasional shot of inspiration for those wearied by the fight.