BP Disaster Endangering Coastal Cultures

The Gulf Coast is home to diverse ethnic and racial communities that have already endured decades of pollution from chemical and petroleum industries. The BP leak may be the "nail in the coffin" for many of these communities, writes Jordan Flaherty.

The BP oil disaster is not only ravaging ecosystems, it is threatening entire coastal communities, many of them locations of distinct and centuries-old African-American and Native American cultures. According Flaherty, the leak is also just the latest incident in a long line of industrial contamination and environmental racism that have ravaged these communities over decades:

"[I]n the early part of this century, the oil companies took advantage of the fact that people living on the coast were isolated by language and distance and laid claim to their land. Over the past several decades, these companies have devastated these idyllic communities, creating about 10,000 miles of canals through forests, marshes and homes...at least five Louisiana towns - all majority African-American - have been eradicated due to corporate pollution in recent decades.

So, late last month, when oil started washing up on the shores of nearby Lake Chien and fishing season was canceled before it had even begun, [French speaking Native-American] members of Pointe-au-Chien took the news as another nail in the coffin of the lifestyle they had been living for generations."

Full Story: Cultural Extinction

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