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Urban Justice

Urban planning, housing, transportation, the privatization of public space and the criminalization of people of color and poor people.

The Color of California Water Politics

Water is a resource which all human beings need for survival. Presently in California, water is a precious and increasingly scarce resource because of environmental, economic, social and political factors. There is intense competition for access to water, which raises a range of related issues, from water quantity to water quality, from water use to how much water costs. Yet entire communities of people in California, namely people of color and low-income people, have no voice in the debate or in policy-making over water resources in the state. This is unacceptable. There is something fundamentally and morally wrong about excluding entire communities of people from the discussion and decision-making process involving water, a resource which is a critical need for all people.

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Discovering Columbus: Re-Reading the Past

Most of my students have trouble with the idea that a book – especially a textbook – can lie. That's why I start my U.S. history class by stealing a student's purse.

As the year opens, my students may not know when the Civil War was fought or what James Madison or Frederick Douglass did; but they know that a brave fellow named Christopher Columbus discovered America. Indeed, this bit of historical lore may be the only knowledge class members share in common.

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Struggles Unite Native Peoples

The following is from an interview with chief Bill Redwing Tayac of the Piscataway people, conducted by Phil Tajitsu Nash. In it, Chief Tayac stresses the unity of native peoples throughout the Americas and outlines some of thei rmany struggles, in particular the fight to maintain their land.

My name is Billy Redwing Tayac. I am the hereditary chief of the Piscataway people, who are indigenous to Maryland, Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia. Our present ceremonial ground and spiritual and political center is located in what is called Port Tobacco, in Maryland. Over the years, I have worked for the reclamation of Indian people. We have so many people who have lost their way, who don't know anything about their traditions or religion. This work involves "de-Angloization," or bringing our people back to the earth, back to being Indian people. It is hard to be an Indian in any city because we are separated from the earth by concrete. We can'? feel the power of the earth, the wind, the trees.

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Metro Rail, Social Justice, and Urban Form

The recent Los Angeles uprising is not the inchoate and criminal cry of a statistically minor underclass that could not climb the ladder of the American dream. It is rather a defining moment in American history, an event which, for those who choose to see, breaks through our denial of the increasing disparity between the haves and the have-nots. "Fixing" the underclass by "rebuilding Los Angeles" misses the point completely. The foundation of any true "rebuilding" of Los Angeles is the economic, social and psychological empowerment of all its people.

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Optimum Human Population Size

Although the tremendous size and rate of growth of the human population now influences virtually every aspect of society, rarely does the public debate, or even consider, the question of what would be an optimum number of human beings to live on Earth at any given time. While there are many possible optima depending on criteria and conditions, there is a solid scientific basis for determining the bounds of possibilities. All optima must lie between the minimum viable population size, MVP (Gilpin and Soule, 1986; Soule, 1987) and the biophysical carrying capacity of the planet (Daily and Ehrlich, 1992). At the lower end, 50 to 100 people in each of several groups, for a total of about 500, would constitute an MVP.

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Editors' Notes

No argument is more likely to seriously injure the fragile alliance between environmentalists and communities of color – and the growing environmental justice movement which so many have worked so hard to build – than the debate over U.S. immigration policy. Already on the defensive about the white, upper-class male character of their leadership and their behind-the-scenes role in negotiating policies with which low-income communities must live, environmentalists are now accused of legitimizing a racist anti-immigrant movement. Their response is that people of color and social justice advocates for immigrants' and women's rights do not take seriously the global population explosion and its inevitable damage to the earth and all its inhabitants.

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