Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Public Policy Analysis

Second Department

Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Richard Worthington

Reader 2

Francisco Donez

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© 2017 Lindsey C Chen


This thesis takes an unconventional approach to environmental racism. Through the lens of white privilege and racial capitalism, I analyze hazardous waste procedures, work site dynamics, and governmental enforcement. Southeast Los Angeles encompasses 26 neighborhoods and the communities racial demographic is 85.8% people of color. The region is home to an abundance of hazardous waste generators, and the area is disproportionately burdened by pollution compared to the rest of LA County. I chose white privilege as a framework because more often than not, discrimination in the workplace is unintentional and covert. White privilege manifests through hazardous waste management in four forms: devaluation of worker training, lack of language accommodations, disenfranchisement of employees of color, and enforcement-heavy regulation. The four factors listed impact facility operations and risk health and safety of personnel, especially employees of color working in closest proximity to toxic chemicals. To prioritize the needs of workers of color, I recommend creating a free hazardous waste consultation service modeled after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s service. Ineffective online instruction must be eliminated and replaced with learner-centered empowerment training. Finally, generator management must facilitate a more supportive culture that empowers employees of color as agents of change in the workplace.