The histories of slavery and segregation have not only left distinctions between the economic and social realities of people of different races in the United States, but have literally shaped the geography and environments we live in. Racial identities of different communities and geographies are as obvious as any other physical attributes of the community. Not only to they shape the character and culture of communities, but continued geographic segregation has resulted in health crises and facilitated mass incarceration, particularly in Black communities.
In this episode of CRT2 (Critical Race Theory / Columbia Race Talks) features two interviews: one with Stephanie Cooper, Vice President of Rise St. James, an environmental justice activist group based in the infamous Cancer Alley region of Louisiana; the other with Flores Forbes, writer, urban planner in New York City for decades, and is currently an associate vice president in the Office of Government and Community Affairs, Columbia University. They both discuss their experiences with environmental racism, modern day segregation, and efforts by police and other authorities to intimidate and even incarcerate Black community-members.
We will also cover how the commonsense and historical understandings of the racial identity of place are not recognized in the law. The color-blind constitution allows governments and decisionmakers to use geography and space to place society’s pollution burden on Black communities.
Environmental Policy | Environmental Public Health | Law and Race | Place and Environment | Race and Ethnicity | Social Justice
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Studio for Law and Culture
Alexander, David; Cooper, Stephanie; Forbes, Flores; Geddings, Keith; McCoy, Bridget; and Turner, Eli, "CRT2 S1 Ep7: Color Lines: Geography and Racial Control" (2022). CRT2 Season 1. 9.
Released: September 19, 2022
Stephanie Cooper is the Vice President of Rise St. James, an environmental justice activist group based in the infamous Cancer Alley region of Louisiana.
Flores Forbes is an Associate Vice President for Community Affairs in the Office of Government and Community Affairs. He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Graduate School for Architecture, Planning and Preservation and at Columbia Law School where he teaches Critical Race Theory. In 2020 he was appointed to President Bollinger’s Anti-Racist Taskforce and led the planning effort to Combat Anti Black Racism in the communities surrounding Columbia University. Flores has published two books about race, Black radical politics, urban planning and criminal justice change. His most recent book Invisible Men: A Contemporary Slave Narrative in the Era of Mass Incarceration (Skyhorse Publishing, 2017) won the American Book Award for nonfiction in 2017. Prior to his time at Columbia, Flores was the Chief Strategic Officer at Abyssinian Development Corporation in Harlem and a city/urban planner as the Deputy Director of Land Use and Development in the Office of the Manhattan Borough President. He has a BA from San Francisco State University and a Masters of Urban Planning from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service NYU.
Written, edited and produced by David Alexander, Keith Geddings, Bridgett McCoy and Eli Turner.
Complaint, White Hat v. Landry, 475 F. Supp. 3d 532, No. 3:19-cv-00322 (M.D. La. 2020).
Flores Forbes, Invisible Men: A Contemporary Slave Narrative in the Era of Mass Incarceration, (2016).
Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America 53–55 (2017).
Oliver Laughland & Jamiles Lartey, First Slavery,Then a Chemical Plant and Cancer Deaths: One Town’s Brutal History, The Guardian (May 6, 2019).
PEN America, Arresting Dissent: Legislative Restrictions on the Right to Protest 5, (May 2020).