Giving Compass' Take:
- Jena Brooker discusses how Detroit residents are fighting back after automaking company Stellantis chose to reduce emissions in a majority white neighborhood and increased them in a mostly Black neighborhood.
- Why is it important to approach environmental protection through an intersectional, equity-focused lens? How can donors support organizations and activists working to combat environmental racism?
- Learn about environmental racism and climate change in the Southern United States.
What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
Over the last few months, Tanisha Burton has developed respiratory issues for the first time in her life. Her shortness of breath landed her in the emergency room in April, where she was prescribed an Albuterol inhaler to manage the problem. Burton lives on Beniteau Street, located in southeast Detroit. Outside her back door is the recently expanded Detroit Assembly Complex — a massive auto-manufacturing facility consisting of two assembly lines pumping out Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos.
Burton says the onset of her respiratory issues coincided with the start of construction to expand the plant, which includes the first new auto assembly line in Detroit in 30 years.
Respiratory issues aren’t the only thing that has changed in Burton’s life during the expansion. An insurance appraiser recently pointed out that the foundation of her home had moved, likely due to the vibrations and shaking produced by the nearby facility. There’s also a constant foul smell, she said, and noise that wakes her up at all hours of the night. It is almost like “you can smell the pollution in the air,” Burton said, “and I hate waking up at three, four in the morning because I hear all this banging.”
The new and expanded auto assembly lines belong to Stellantis, the fourth-largest automaker in the world, created from the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Peugeot-maker PSA Group earlier this year. For some Detroiters, the new facility has been a source of excitement and hope. Detroit became known as the “Motor City” because of it’s thriving car-making scene — General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles were all founded in Detroit. But in recent years, some have questioned whether Detroit is still the heart of the automobile industry in the United States, thanks to the sharp decline in manufacturing jobs. Between 2001 and 2017, auto-manufacturing jobs in Metro Detroit declined by 38 percent. The expansion of Stellantis’ facility is estimated to bring 5,000 of those jobs back.
Read the full article about pollution in Detroit's Black neighborhoods by Jena Brooker at Grist.