Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Special Majors

Second Department

Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Susan Phillips

Reader 2

Laura Harris

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Rights Information

© 2020 Simone Wolynski


This research examines the relationship between environmental oppression and racial injustice, speculating about the need for a paradigmatic shift to better promote an intersectional justice movement. Through a presentation of literature that confronts failing environmentalism, I argue that the framework propels social injustices through its elitism and exclusivity. Current environmentalism hinders sustainable change and further contributes to prolonged inaction in socially targeted communities. Using East St. Louis as a case study on cyclic environmental and racial injustice, I present a long-term historical landscape of the city. Industrial overuse and political negligence cement the predominately Black residents in poverty and pollution. Environmental issues attacking East St. Louis trigger social consequences including housing discrimination, public health crises, and educational inaccessibility. Afro Pessimism asserts that current conditions for these communities comprised of minority, low-income populations brinks dystopia only destruction can relieve. In questioning what is needed to promote positive futures for Black communities, I postulate how an Afrofuturist perspective could contribute to a new equitable, inclusive environmentalism.