Traditionally environmental justice research focuses on health risks related to technological hazards such as air pollution and hazardous waste. As well Hurricanes and Tropical Storms generate major floods to Houston and disproportionately expose communities to environmental hazards associated with inundation. The environmental injustices of flooding were galvanized during Hurricane Harvey, and many of us experienced it first hand, according to NOAA's preliminary data Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 51 inches of rain in Harris county, flooded hundreds of thousands of homes, apartment units and businesses and killed upwards of 80 people in the state. With every major hurricane and storm we are reminded of the effects of natural disasters and the importance of flood mitigation and disaster preparedness.
To prepare and address flooding impacts in our communities, it is vital to know the precise location of affected neighborhoods and their respective representatives. While Furr High School stands in zip code 77013, it serves students from various zip codes and neighborhoods, which is why we included a link to the City Of Houston Zip Code Reference guide for students to access resources accordingly. Knowing your location is vital when documenting and reporting man-made disasters, crashes, or flooding events. Harris County is the third-most populous county in the United States, with 34 incorporated cities, including Houston, and broken into 4 precincts, which often becomes a challenge for residents when identifying jurisdictional boundaries. As aid, we have compiled a list of resources for residents to use for the collection of evidence and reporting of events to the county and precinct that served Furr High School. Proactive approaches for reducing flood risks and improving disparities can not be implemented if they were never reported. Communities have the power to bring awareness through citizen reporting and documenting.
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Gentrification is a complex process that impacts low or middle class communities in many ways from economic to demographic change. The influx of new development attracts higher-income residents and typically displaces original community members out of their neighborhoods. Social and economic barriers often impede long standing residents from attaining real estate in their own community. To better understand gentrification and the negative impacts on historical communities of color, we must first address the segregation in America. Second, acknowledged that racial discrimnitaion in the 1930’s shaped the demographics and patterns of wealth in American communities today. The year 1865 marked the end of the Civil War, the signage of the Emancipation Proclamation, the change in black labor, and the start of discriminatory practices such as, Black Codes . As stateted by The History, “Black Codes were restrictive laws designed to limit the freedom of African Americans and ensure their availability as a cheap labor force after slavery was abolished during the Civil War. Under black codes, many states required blacks to sign yearly labor contracts; if they refused, they risked being arrested, fined and forced into unpaid labor. ” https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-codes In Texas, Black Codes continued until 1867 when General Joseph B. Kiddoo declared the codes biased against freedmen and stopped its enforcement. Discriminatory practices picked up in the 1930’s by the Federal Housing Administration, which refused mortgages to African Americans and only mass-produced homes for whites. This process was done by government surveyors that color coded neighborhoods by most and least desirable, the least desirable were color coded in red largely due to the neighborhoods racial or ethnicla demographic. The book, “The Color Law” highlights and explain the racist policies to maintain the separation of whites and blacks in American Cities even after the Civil War and into Reconstruction. (A direct link provided in the Gentrification Resources)
As a teacher you can empower students and uplift communities that have been systematically marginalized for generations by teaching them to invest in their communities and make responsible educational and financial decisions. For our gentrification activity we took on inspiration from “A Right to the City” by the Smithsonian Museum, which explores the history of neighborhood change and civic engagement in the nation’s capital by looking at the dynamic histories of six Washington, D.C., neighborhoods.This year we will launch “A Right To HOUSTON” tackling and capturing our chance and challenges to build a home inside our gentrifying neighborhoods. Neighborhoods of interest: THIRD WARD, Fifth Ward, Freedman's Town
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SAY THEIR NAMES
The “Say Their Name Memorial” is a nationwide initiative to honor Black lives taken by systemic racism and racial injustice. The memorial was started in Portland, Oregon on Juneteenth 2020 and has reached over 25 locations nationwide since. STNM produces traveling memorials for public exhibition and their goal is to get a memorial in every city across the country; a memorial created for and by your community.
The Houston memorial opened on September 29th and will remain until October 13th, 2020, you can visit the public installation from 10am to 7pm any day of the week. Ms. Hidalgo will be there on October 9th and 11th from 1:30 to 4:00pm volunteering and capturing reflections from educators. We want to highlight this memorial and created this video as a tool for you to show your students another way to address social justice through artwork. As student designers born in the 21st century they have an advantage to use technology and software to create products that spark meaningful conversations and discussions. We hope you use this video in your classroom to talk about racial justice and the importance of civic engagement to ensure these injustices never repeat again.