Edgar Mouton Speaks at NBEJN forum 1999

For those of you who may not know it, the first edition of Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality was published on August 31, 1990—some 25 years ago. My how times flies—even when you are fighting a “ground war” against environmental injustice. One day in the near future I will write the backstory of how difficult it was to get the first environmental justice book accepted by a publisher. Trust me, it was not easy back then to get anything published that connected race, poverty and the environment. As a society, we are still running from race. I still have lots of rejection letters to prove it.

A big shout out to folks at Westview Press for having the good sense and vision way back in 1990 to see what we EJ folks saw—a huge information gap when it came to books that documented environmental inequality and folks saw–a huge information gap when it came to books that documented environmental inequality and environmental racism. I never dreamed the publisher would market the book as a textbook. A good strategy since it was adopted by faculty at colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad. I am still surprised (pleasantly) when people come up to me and let me know when they read the book and how it impacted their lives and work. One can only imagine how great that makes an author (teacher) feel.

We have come a long way in the publishing world over the past 25 years. In 1990, “Dumping in Dixie” was the sole EJ book. Today, there are hundreds of EJ books in print covering a wide range of issues and topics. Yet, we have much more work to do to make sure EJ research, writings and scholarship get infused throughout the publishing world since information plays an important role in shaping public policy. folks saw–a huge information gap when it came to books that documented environmental inequality and environmental racism. I never dreamed the publisher would market the book as a textbook. A good strategy since it was adopted by faculty at colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad. I am still surprised (pleasantly) when people come up to me and let me know when they read the book and how it impacted their lives and work. One can only imagine how great that makes an author (teacher) feel.

We have come a long way in the publishing world over the past 25 years. In 1990, “Dumping in Dixie” was the sole EJ book. Today, there are hundreds of EJ books in print covering a wide range of issues and topics. Yet, we have much more work to do to make sure EJ research, writings and scholarship get infused throughout the publishing world since information plays an important role in shaping public policy.environmental racism. I never dreamed the publisher would market the book as a textbook since I wrote it to get in the hands of everyday people. A good strategy since it was adopted by faculty at colleges and universities in the U.S. and used as a manual by grassroots EJ folks to buttress their arguments against environmental racism. Here is the blurb Westview Press used to market the book:

To be poor, working-class, or a person of color in the United States often means bearing a disproportionate share of the country’s environmental problems. Starting with the premise that all Americans have a basic right to live in a healthy environment, Dumping in Dixie chronicles the efforts of five African American communities, empowered by the civil rights movement, to link environmentalism with issues of social justice. In the third edition, Bullard speaks to us from the front lines of the environmental justice movement about new developments in environmental racism, different organizing strategies, and success stories in the struggle for environmental equity.

A big high five to the National Wildlife Federation who recognized Dumping in Dixie in 1990 and gave me its Conservation Achievement Award in Science. That was a shocker (pleasantly). I am still surprised (pleasantly) when people come up to me and let me know when they read the book and how it impacted their lives and work. One can only imagine how wonderful that makes an author (teacher) fee—the ultimate compliment. Although Dumping in Dixie dealt with black communities in the southern United States struggling against the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, residential apartheid and environmental racism, the book’s environmental justice framing was able to translate to larger race and class struggles in the United States and around the world. Many of these old EJ struggles continue to this day as new ones take on heightened urgency—like climate change and the call for a southern initiative on climate justice to address the unique legacy and vulnerability in the South. Yes, Dixie is still different.

We have come a long way in the publishing world over the past 25 years. In 1990, Dumping in Dixie was the lone environmental justice book. Today, there are literally hundreds of environmental justice books in print covering a wide range of issues and topics. Yet, we have much more work to do to ensure environmental justice works are infused throughout the publishing world since information plays an important role in shaping public policy.

Author: Dr. Robert Bullard

Dr. Bullard is the lead author and principal investigator on several new book projects and research undertakings that address environmental health, energy, transportation, climate justice, and racial equity.

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