Lerner posits that the disproportionate environmental suffering of poor communities of color is not coincidental. Shockingly unequal toxic exposure rates — according to one study Lerner cites, African Americans are 79 percent more likely than whites to live in neighborhoods where pollution poses a health risk — go largely ignored by the governments, corporations and factories that could effect change.
But in this vacuum, grassroots activists rise and organize, winning lawsuits and closing toxic sites. Lerner follows these activists from their political awakenings through their individual pushes to organize meetings, stage corporate confrontations and influence legislation. The result is an inspiring story of everyday people who, pushed too far, push back.
» Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW; Sun., 5 p.m., free; 202-364-1919. (Van Ness)
Written by Express contributor Jessica Roake
Photo courtesy MIT Press