Campus Only Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
This thesis discusses the rates of air pollution in the neighborhoods of Baldwin Hills, View Park-Windsor Hills, and Ladera Heights, California due to the construction and aftermath of the I-10 and I-90 freeways. I argue that the creation of these freeways led to significant segregation between Black and White residents, housing discrimination, health deterioration, and generational losses of wealth. Moreover, I argue how reparations and other forms of environmental justice geared towards Black communities can correct these impacts.
These neighborhoods, located on the outer edges of the City of Los Angeles, are notably dominated by African American populations. These African American communities are surrounded by the I-10 and the I-90 freeways, creating a plethora of air pollution related illnesses and contributing to the spatial segregation of racial demographics in the greater Los Angeles (LA) area. Using GIS mapping and local air quality monitoring data, I have tracked the rates of particulate matter 2.5 starting in the 1990s to the present in relation to the predominantly White neighborhoods of Los Angeles compared to the Black neighborhoods listed above. Using a literary analysis about the history of both of these neighborhoods, I seek to draw a correlation between rates of air pollution related illnesses (such as cardiovascular disease, asthma, and cancers) and loss of generational wealth in these Black communities. This analysis will support the case for medical and environmental reparations to be paid to Black communities. In this study, I find that Black neighborhoods in Los Angeles have historically higher rates of particulate matter 2.5 and particulate matter 10 compared to White neighborhoods farther away from the freeways, and that there are several solutions that can be established by the US government and the state of California.
In the conclusions of my thesis study, I recommend an increase in environmental justice (EJ) and environmental racism awareness for the greater Los Angeles communities, as well as increased air pollution regulation (especially in minority communities), social welfare programs that compensate and uplift people affected by environmental injustices, and debt relief/assistance for medical bills that pertain to air pollution related illnesses. I also discuss the limits of reparation-based initiatives and the overall implications of reparations for the Black community regarding environmental injustices.
alvarez, jaela, "Air Pollution and the Case for Reparations Among African American Communities in Los Angeles, California" (2023). Scripps Senior Theses. 1975.
This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.