Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2019

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)




John Van Buren


This paper serves to addresses the issue of environmental racism in relation to New York City, and more specifically comparing the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn, often characterized as low- income and high-minority populations with their white counterparts. New York, among other urban centers in the United States serves as an example of environmental racism because of the discrepancy in high air pollution levels in marginalized communities, the subsequent negative health effects (specifically asthma), and the lack of green spaces. The root of this issue is prominent in the history and construction of New York during the 1900s. The construction of public housing, discrimination in public spaces and the practice of redlining, overseen by Robert Moses, created a divided New York that is still evident today. Whether Moses was aware or not, the construction of New York would have consequences for the next years to come. The lack of access to the benefits the environment must offer has negative effects on these communities, including both health and mental consequences. The truth is, poor urban blacks have the worst health of any ethnic group in the United States, with the possible competition of Native Americans. Asthma rates are significantly higher among African American and Hispanic communities because of the disproportionate levels of air pollution. The New York State and local New York City governments are taking steps to helping incorporate green spaces and roof gardens in these afflicted and underserved communities. The proposal of incentivizing the construction of green infrastructure can be encouraged through tax breaks as the services these elements add to the city are innumerable.