Majora Carter is strongly committed to deal with environmental and social justice issues which affect residents of South Bronx, New York, where she grew up. She starts by revealing how South Bronx residents have been affected by the surrounding toxic environment due to poor zoning laws by New York City authorities.
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Carter is selfless because she helped develop a park in South Bronx, an area which had been neglected by city authorities for more than 50 years.
She managed to enlist the support of New York Mayor and other community stakeholders to develop Hunts Point Riverside Park, in South Bronx, in an area that was previously used as an illegal dumping site. Carter advises urban authorities to have sustainable development plans which consider all residents to ensure they live in a good environment.
She argues that unsustainable development impacts negatively on people of color because they are victims of ineffective zoning laws. She reveals that many people in the South Bronx had their homes destroyed in the 1950’s, to pave way for the construction of the highway linking Westchester and Manhattan.
Poor zoning laws caused her family together with 600,000 other South Bronx residents to be displaced. majority of people affected by the displacement were African Americans. A combination of racial stereotypes and discriminative policies led authorities to zone off South Bronx as a low class district.
Many firms which pollute the environment have been allowed to operate there and this has exposed many residents to an unhealthy environment. Carter’s personal account shows how people of color in the US are subjected to institutionalized racial discrimination, which confines them in heavily polluted residential areas (Carter). This led her to start Sustainable South Bronx, a firm which advocates for sustainable development in South Bronx.
Her efforts have also encouraged sustainable development projects in San Francisco’s Baywatch area, by connecting firms with people who live there. She advocates against the pollution of big cities by big corporate firms, which fail to include locals in their plans. She describes the lack of commitment by big firms and government authorities to environmental conservation as economic degradation.
Carter argues that economic degradation begets environmental degradation, which leads to social disintegration in communities directly affected by these unethical practices. She argues that poor zoning laws by New York City authorities allow business firms which pollute the environment, to operate in South Bronx. Therefore, these practices have made poor people in major American cities to live in toxic environments, which expose them to many health problems (Carter).
Carter reveals that open urban spaces need to be made more habitable to people living nearby. She asserts that private firms need to establish partnerships with community residents to protect the environment from degradation, before any commercial project is done. She argues that sustainable development brings triple benefits to the government, communities and private firms involved in specific projects.
This is necessary because projected population increases in New York and other major American cities will affect environmental conservation in the country in future. She argues that major developments in urban areas should not exploit vulnerable communities living in neglected zones (Carter).
She uses the example of Bogota in Colombia, to show how sustainable development has transformed the lives of many residents there. The city’s mayor has improved the lives of many residents and the same model can be used to improve many American cities.
Carter, Majora. Greening the Ghetto, Ted Talk. You Tube, 2007. Speech.