Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Second Department


Reader 1

Char Miller

Reader 2

Andre Wakefield

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© 2016 Amanda T Chang


Through studying the intersections of sanitation and segregation in Brooklyn, New York in the post-WWII era, this thesis reveals a web of willful white negligence that constructed a narrative that supports continued environmental injustices towards black Americans. As a result of housing discrimination, the lack of sanitation, and the political and social climate of the 1950s, black neighborhoods in Brooklyn became dirtier with abandoned garbage. Institutional anti-black racism not only permitted and supported the degradation of black neighborhoods, but also created an association between black Americans and trash. In the present day, this narrative not only leads to the increased segregation of black Americans into dirty neighborhoods, but also justifies more environmental injustice in these vulnerable communities. Based on a case study of Brooklyn in the 1950s, this thesis asserts that environmental injustices are more than just siting landfills and toxic sites proximate to vulnerable neighborhoods, but rather they are dependent on the creation and preservation of narratives that claim minority communities are naturally predisposed to or deserving of living in dirty and unclean places.