Devon Pena

Published October 2, 2014 by djlwsu

What did you learn from Devon Pena, what are your thoughts on talk, and how does it relate to our course discussions of inequality, privilege, racism and segregation

Up to 20 points extra credit

200 words

Last day November 1


15 comments on “Devon Pena

  • During Devon Pena presentation there was a specific connection that stood out to me the most. This connection was that between people of color and the location of toxic wastes. Once Pena mentioned that 15 million African American and 8 million Latina/os lived in communities with one or more toxic wastes I was shocked in the first place because I never would of thought of connecting toxic waste location with communities in which people of color lived. His presentation relates to our course discussion of racism. Race continues to be what predicts where hazardous wastes are located.


  • I found it very interesting that he basically blamed all environmental problems on capitalism. Which makes sense after he explained how we as a society strive for the best and throw away whatever doesn’t reach standards, and this mindset is killing the earth. This relates to our talks in class when we talked about poverty and the wealth distribution. Mainly because capitalism favors those who can keep up with the changes being made, and the easiest way to keep up is to have the money in order to. So all the unseen advantages whites have; which is the big head start due to a long history of racism, play a big role when trying to keep up with capitalism and in order to stay out of poverty. Plus he talked about how the decisions regarding waste are made by the top 1% and who are the top 1%? Whites who have been put there by social construction and capitalism.


  • Excellent speaker , I can actually admit to learning quite a bit new terms and definitions. The talk brought up some intriguing concepts. I’ll start with the “capitalism, is stupid ” quote. As he compared the Hedge Fund Manager to the working mom we can clearly see the divide between the 1 % an 99% wealth groups. The inequality of wealth is detrimental to the environment as a whole. How can the environment be taken care of when only 1% can AFFORD to do so. The richest of the population are able to purchase a hybrids instead of a gas guzzlers, Fly on private jets, own 3 homes LEED certified and have a small footprint. In this case the 1% is privileged. Where the other 99% can’t make the huge environmental gains because of the costs. As Mr. Pena said ” we are guilty of knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

    Relating back to class he mentions the term ” Toxic Racism” . Bullard’s Houston studies had produced these findings .” The black population of Houston is 25% but harbor 80% of the entire city’s waste sites.” These neighborhoods are also less likely to have paved streets, adequate sewers and drains , and less emphasized public services dedicated to sanitation. Most of the neighborhoods are of color and whose environmental rights are chosen by a “board of white men”. White privilege has awarded good health. Mr. Peña also mentions ” institutional Violence” . The result of these waste dumps and destructions of gardens in low income areas all contribute to the shorter life span communities of color have compared to white communities. Some hard statistics mentioned.

    – 1 in 3 Latino/as drink water with heavy metals or pesticides”
    -15 million people live next to UNCONTROLLED toxic waste sites. a majority of which are people of color
    – 9 million people live within 3km of a toxic waste site , 5.1 million are of color .
    -56% neighborhoods that host toxic waste sites are colored communities
    – 2007 study determined the number one predictor of toxic waste site locations was race.

    All the above statistics are a result of the segregation of communities, the stereotypes like ” minorities only care about jobs , so they are willing to risk environmental risks”, and the lock-in model of environmental decision making. Lastly ” The present economic reality, widely known as neoliberal capitalism, prizes the accumulation of profits over human well-being and environmental sustainability. As such, it is criminal…”


  • David Pena did a good job of linking capitalism back to privilege, segregation, and racism. He clearly stated the act of privilege when he compared a working mom to the Hedge Fund Manager. He linked back the two situations and their environment to which person would be making more of an impact on the environment. Not only that, but he described how the women working for the companies made only 98 cents an hour at least and were not even given proper clothing to wear at work. He also showed segregation clearly by describing how there were certain communities, which just so happened to be African American communities, where they had used the site as a landfill. He described this situation as also a racial privilege because the landfill is going to be done in an area that is less industrialized, which would be where there is more poverty and low-income families would end up living, the majority of them being colored (because they are not given the privilege as those who are not colored). He called the garbage/landfill/actions as toxic racism. I found this interesting because not only does toxic racism have to do with toxic garbage that leads into higher disease rates and so on, but it also shows how TOXIC racism can be, to the part where the privileged individuals garbage ends up in the unprivileged individuals back yards. How racial is that? How privileged is that? How segregated is that? 15 million African Americans and 18 million Latinas were living in communities with one or more uncontrolled toxic waste sites. Pena also states how this form of toxic racism emphasizes the fact that poverty can weaken your immune system. Of those numbers, I’m sure that their immune systems are weakened because of the 3 Kilometer radius with which they live in, surrounding a landfill just nearby. How come they are not privileged with good enough quality air like the privileged individuals like the Hedge Fund Manager may have? Not to mention how Pena stated that everyone is not as equally able to get his or her Carbon Credit Certificate. All of Pena’s presentation was filled with the whys of privileges, segregation, and racism. And the fact that it all links back to capitalism is interesting. “It’s capitalism, Stupid”.


  • I really enjoyed Devon Pena as a speaker and found out a lot of information that I didn’t know of before. First, the topic itself was engaging and interesting. Never have I thought to think that environmental problems were in a way caused by capitalism. Toxic racism was also an issue that came up and was one that made me realize more about wealth disparities of the U.S. Findings that I found to be shocking were that 15 million African Americans and 18 million Latinas live next to uncontrolled toxic waste sites. That number is crazy to me. Especially because a lot of people throw their garbage away not knowing its ending up in other peoples’ neighborhoods. All this toxic garbage creates a higher rate of disease and the way of living is simply poor. African American neighborhoods in Houston were often chosen as a location for toxic waste sites and landfills. The environmental racism that occurs today is appalling and when hearing this I often thought about how this is so similar to what we are learning in class currently. The biggest relation to our course was the topic of privilege. According to lecture, 70% of black children who grow up in the most racially segregated and poorest neighborhoods are likely to remain there and stay for multiple generations. Minorities are being born into poor neighborhoods like ones located near toxic wastes simply because its their only option too. They don’t have the same privilege as whites because they have don’t have the historical advantage that whites always had. This creates an easy lead way for whites to gain money, progress with the changes of life, and also have the ability to run with capitalism. Overall, I have grown a deeper understanding of environmental racism and appreciated Devon Pena’s thoughts on environmental justice.


  • After listening to Devon Pena’s lecture, I found myself reflectiong on my living situation back home, and the possible waste facilities around. From his lecture, I learned that 15 million African Americans and 8 million latinos live in areas with one or more toxic waste points. He pointed out that it was ironic that the most recycling efforts are being put into areas of poverty. He essentially said it was a waste of resources because the types of people living in those areas don’t have the funds to be focusing on environmental conservation. Recycling efforts in areas of poverty is an example of the wealth disparities that we have been discussing in class. Overall, I found it interesting that Pena blamed our environmental flaws on capitalism.


  • I identify myself as a conservationist and an environmentalist. Being a biology major as well, I tend to think of things in a scientific-method kind of sense. The fact that the US creates so much garbage and has an economy and lifestyle that is completely dependent on consumerism have always been apparent to me. I understand the multitude of environmental risks we face everyday, and most of the time choose to ignore. What Devon Pena did for me though was understand envioronmental policy and the green movement in terms of our current social structure. Social inequalities never overlapped with my thoughts of conservation and being “green”. I learned that not all people are hurt in the same way from environmental risk. And because of that environmental agencies and polices are made accordingly. Low income families and families of color are get more exposure to pollution and are in closer proximity to garbage dumps. Since they have no power and no money they are stuck in a cycle of neglect.

    I like to think that I do know a lot about environmental policy and being ecologically sound. But this talk taught me that racial inequality, privledge and segregation reaches all ends of our society and right down to the issues I care deeply about. Lately in class we discussed in detail the history of segregation in our nation, redlining of homes, and the FHA. Since neighboors are segragated and have been for generations, I’m sure this influenced where toxic waste dumps have been placed.

    One of the examples that stuck with me was when he compared two very different women. One was a hedge fund manager, wealthy, drives a hybrid car, and is wealthy enough to purchase carbon credits and offset her carbon footprint and her luxurious lifestyle. While the other woman works 3 jobs, drives a hand-me down car with poor gas milage, and is unable to offset her carbon footprint. Who is making the bigger negative impact on the enivonrment? Food for thought.


  • During Devon Pena’s presentation numerous concepts and connections stood out to me. What he was talking about really relates to our course discussions about race. One main point that caught my attention was when he was talking about African American and Latino/as living in places where there is toxic waste around and is close to them. Causing danger to many people, I believe he said about 8 million African Americans and 8 million Latino/as live in communities like this. This being said people of color living there, and then going back to a bigger picture race is getting involved. Also “its capitalism, stupid” caught my attention. Basically what Devon was saying is that environmental problems are being blamed on capitalism. Which is another way of thinking about it and is correct. Society today try’s to improve each and reach the best but really whatever doesn’t reach a certain expectation or isn’t good enough just gets through away and in the long run that is really hurting the earth and not improving it. This also goes along with poverty that we have discussed in class. Overall Devon Pena was an excellent speaker and really made a clear connection to what we are talking about in class to what is going on in the world today.


  • Prior to Devon Pena’s presentation I never connected the two concepts racial issues and environmental issues. I never thought the two could have so much in common, and have such a close correlation. When I use to think of the environment, I always just thought about the issues we as a whole community and world contribute. Similarly, when I thought of race I never individually picked out the cause I just thought of people as a whole community giving in to the problem. I think is because prior to taking Competitive Ethnics Studies I was afraid to talk about race and put blame on certain groups. While listening to Pena’s presentation environmental issues started to come clear to me, however more importantly the prevalence of racism that is still present become even bolder to me. Additionally, before I never knew that waste areas were put in poverty areas. It’s interesting to me that today we still have areas in which mainly one race lives, however I think it is easy to say that directly relates to socioeconomic status. Not only was Devon Pena’s presentation eye opening to see the association between race and the environment, it also related back to class. It shows how subtle racism can be and goes to show how privileges some people’s environments are verses others.


  • Dr. Devon Pena had interesting, yet intriguing information to share. The focus of Devon Pena’s critique was green consumerism. According to Pena’s lecture as early as 1968 the garbage collection sanitation services in African American communities contributed to the urban disturbances in the 1960’s. African American neighborhoods in Houston were often chosen as the location for toxic waste sites and landfill. This was partly in result to the form of apartheid where whites were making the decisions. This was known as toxic racism or environmental racism. Personally, this did not surprise me. Does it upset me? Yes. People’s health should not depend their wealth. One could only hope that our society is working on finding more efficient, environmentally cautious ways of disposing our garbage. A healthy environment means healthy people. It’s ironic that one will invest in a mining company that will destroy a forest in Mexico, but purchase 2 million of carbon offsets in the amazon.
    Also, The concept about equating gluttony with freedom being a dangerous ideology, I would agree with. Freedom does not mean do or… destroy whatever you please. Our society has become wasteful, and destructive. Not only to the environment, but also too ourselves. As Pena asked, how much nature is required by our lifestyles?


    • Mr. Devon Pena was a great speaker that spoke on a lot of great points and facts about capitalism, poverty, segregation, privilege, and racism. One of Mr. Devon quotes were “capitalism is stupid” after saying this Devon goes on to talk about how capitalism only provided advantages to 1 percent of the top wealthiest people in the united states. Capitalism offers change to the world but only a selected amount of people are able to kept up with this change so were does that live people that are in poverty trying to get out. The word is “stuck”. Most people that live in poverty in United States are blacks and Latinos and about 15 million African American’s live by uncontrolled toxic waste but not willing. Because of the capitalism African Americans and Latino’s that live in a poverty and uncontrolled toxic waste are forced to stay there by capitalism, which is another form of segregation within itself. According to Mr. Devon Pena 70 percent of African American children who grow up in this poverty segregated neighborhoods and will tend to remain in this environment for many years. These are the same environments were the toxic waste are being found. Most whites kids have an unknowingly privilege not to live in a toxic waste, poor, and segregated neighborhood compare to a African American kid. Whites have more privilege than blacks because of the history of racism and inequality.


  • I find it interesting and intriguing that he blames all environment problems on our market and economic structure capitalism. Capitalism essentially is striving for the best and greatest way to achieve market efficiency. I have always been very aware of environment policy and the effects the US has on our environment. However Devon Pena helped me understand that although the US as a whole is not being efficient with its recycling and other green agendas it does not affect every individual the same. Depending on where you live greatly affect the amount of exposure to pollution and close proximity of garbage dumps as well as large amounts of metal, etc. are found in water. Generally speaking, minorities are stuck in these areas. They are typically low income families and are stuck in these areas with know where to turn due to lack of income. In lecture, 70% of black children who grow up in low income neighborhoods are likely to remain there and stay for multiple generations. This is not because they choose to stay there typically but because they don’t have a choice. They are not given the same advantages as white individuals who are born into better areas with better schools that give them that advantage in life.


  • First of all I don’t understand why he blames all environmental problems on our market, economic structure, and capitalism. David Pena did a good job of connecting capitalism back to privilege, segregation, and racism. A good example about the privilege is when he was talking about the working mom and the Hedge Fund Manager. Capitalism is trying their hardest to find the greatest and most effective way to achieve market efficiency. Not only that, but he described how the women were working for the companies made only 98 cents an hour at least and were not even given the right clothing to wear at work. He showed segregation also by describing how there were a handful of communities, which were mostly African American communities witch in class mostly all of the black children staying there most likely stayed there with no hope in life or to further their lives. Also where they had used their communities as a landfill and how they say it’s less “industrialized” where there is more poverty and families with lower incomes. He called the garbage/landfill/actions as toxic racism. I think that is foul on the hierarchies behalf. They shouldn’t talk like that to people who are unworthy. This also part of the racial privilege aspect of what Pena talks about. 15 million African Americans and 18 million Latina were living in communities with one or more uncontrolled toxic waste sites. Pena also states how this form of toxic racism emphasizes the fact that poverty can weaken your immune system. I’m sure that their immune systems are weakened because of the 3 Km radius with which they live in, surrounding a landfill just nearby. We are all not treated the same based on were we come from. Blacks are not given the same advantages as whites who are born into more popular areas with better schools that give the head start and leads them the right way in life.


  • I truly enjoyed Devon Pena’s presentation about people of color and the affects that come from the location of toxic wastes as I learned many new things and thought he was an excellent speaker. Throughout Devon’s presentation I learned many pertinent facts relevant to what we have discussed thus for in class. One fact that shocked me was that fifteen million African Americans and eight million Latinos currently live in communities with at least one uncontrolled toxic wastes in their radius. The reason behind this is because landfills are typically put in less industrialized areas in order to be cost-efficient. When people talk about cost-efficient areas there is usually a correlation with low-income families and poverty in the same area. The problem with industrial poverty is that 70% of black children who grow up in low-income areas will most likely remain there for the rest of their life and when this occurs we see a consistent trend of shorter life spans and unhealthy lives. I believe that this presentation by Devon relates best to learning about poverty and wealth distribution in class because this is a perfect example of how we see this enacted in society today.


  • I thought David Pena did an awesome job of relating capitalism to segregation, racism, and privilege. There were many statistics and facts that he mentioned, some of which we had talked about in class, but others that we hadn’t talked about, and I found those to be quit surprising. He compared the Hedge Fund Manager to a working mom and the parallel between this two explains the division in the 1% and 99% wealth groups. The idea that there is inequality throughout wealth is clearly shown in this example. He also talked about how society only wants the best and throws away whatever they don’t think is adequate, which with this mentality wastes a ton of products and is slowly what is destroying the earth and the environment. Pena also mentioned that 15 million African Americans and 8 million Latinos lived in a society with one or more toxic wastes, which I found really surprising. Along with that, 1 in 3 Latinos drink water with heavy metal or pesticides and 9 million people live within 3k of toxic waste site. All of these statistics are a result of segregation throughout communities, created by the stereotypes and what racial groups really care about.


  • Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

    Connecting to %s

    %d bloggers like this: