Welcome to Toxic Politics: Environmental Justice in Richmond and Beyond

Dear Students:

Welcome to our course on “toxic politics.” What do I mean by that phrase? “Toxic politics” refers to the environmental injustices to poor communities and communities of color in the United States. From the fracking and mountain topping in West Virginia to the lead poisoning scandal in Flint, Michigan, there is much to learn and discover about how our environment is hurting us. This semester, we will have the honor of working with Queen Zakia Shabazz. Ms. Shabazz is an author, educator, lecturer,  and environmental justice advocate. Her work began in 1996 when she discovered that her young son had been poisoned by lead, prompting her to establish United Parents Against Lead (UPAL). UPAL is a national networking organization of and for parents of children poisoned by lead that works to end the threat of lead poisoning and other environmental hazards through education and awareness, advocacy, intervention, and resource referral. When you complete this class, you will understand the science and politics of lead poisoning and how we test for lead poisoning. Why is lead toxic? What are the political stakes? How do grassroots organizers work to eradicate lead from our water sources and food? I am looking forward to meeting you, and though we are a small class, we are perfectly poised to learn about, and do something about, lead poisoning in the City of Richmond.

See you soon,