Graduation Year

2018

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Wendy Cheng

Reader 2

Ann Davis

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Rights Information

2018 Minah M Choi

Abstract

The environmental justice movement emerged after the civil rights movement and began as an attack on environmental racism, when communities of color and low-income experience disproportionately high levels of exposure to air pollution, water pollution, and toxic facilities. The environmental justice movement is not unitary in practice, nor should it be—environmental racism and injustice are manifested in different ways and scales. However, those exposed to environmental racism are unified under an identity in solidarity, known as the people of color identity in environmental justice.

As the environmental justice movement has grown and taken shape to better address injustices of a racialized landscape, it has connected more closely with movements for spatial justice and immigrant rights to combat a detrimentally narrow focus of activism. This thesis explores the rise of community-based activism in the Los Angeles’ labor social justice organizing after the civil unrest in 1992. By employing a spatial framework to environmental activism in urban settings, Los Angeles is a particularly provoking case study for analyzing the regional environmental justice movement as well as the multi-scalar social justice organizing movement. Contextualizing Los Angeles’ community-based activism in a historic context in the first section and then analyzing components of social justice organizing across movements, this project attempts to contribute to the ongoing discussion on the development of identity in justice-seeking activism.

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