It has done both. Without racism, the US wouldn’t have been built nearly as fast and made as productive as it has been. The US was built on slave labor, which was built on a racist foundation as it was human trade. With America being made so productive, also came the consequences of a racist built country. The environment was damaged because of the growing population in america, and in turn hurt the environment. Racism having helped the US be built also contributed to helping the environment as the US is now becoming greener and interested in protecting the environment. So, racism can’t be blamed in itself for helping or hurting the environment, but it can be interpreted as a contributing factor to both.
I think this is a really interesting question that has, or at least leads into, larger implications and questions. The concept of racism in America, at least in my mind, leads to the civil rights movement. This sort of enormous and national movement and citizen involvement can certainly be linked to the environmental movement. Although the two are very different in both context and content, they are still two huge American movements with some inevitable points for comparison.
An interesting question. If racism does have any effect on the environment at all, it is very little. Racism is by and large a social issue between humans, and has little to do with the physical environment itself. Perhaps if you are referring to a political or social environment, then yes, but I would not say it affects the trees and the oceans. But even so, political and social environments are more philosophical and metaphorical than actual physical locations. Industry and pollution are bigger contributors than social entanglements, though perhaps you could argue that a racially-incited violent riot that causes property damage, including plant life, could be an effect on the environment.
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