Tam interning at Barrio Logan College institute (BLCI). BLCI is a non-profit organization whose mission to help children from the community who are predominantly Latinos, to become the first in their families to attend college. They serve students starting in 3rd grade through graduating high school seniors. BLCI provides academic assistance such as tutoring, college preparatory classes and one-one-one counseling. Additionally, BLCI also believes that helping the parents of their students is important; therefore in 2011 the parent program was instated with the goal of encouraging parents to become more involved in their children’s education.
As an alumnus of BLCI, I decided that my internship would be a great opportunity for me to help parents find community resources and give families one-on-one assistance in Spanish; regarding food insecurity, health, unemployment, affordable housing and immigration. For example for food assistance, I sit down with the individuals and fill out SNAP applications. We start with seeing if they are eligible and if they are, fill out the application together. If families are not eligible for SNAP I help them find food distribution sites in the community where they can pick up organic fruits and vegetables.
Regarding health, I find the nearest low-cost health assistance program where they can get physician check-ups and other appointments. Additionally, the biggest case I have worked on is sitting down with a mother and writing a resume in Spanish, translating it to English and helping her apply to jobs around San Diego that would work around her family’s schedule because her husband had a brain injury from working. Lastly, I am doing monthly workshops where I not only provide a variety of information on basic community resources, but also where representatives from other non-profits also come and assist these families on a one-on-one basis.
Although finding legal, financial and health services for families are part of my daily tasks at BLCI, the reasons I am interning in Barrio Logan because it is a great representation of a mixed-use development community who have dealt with contaminated environmental conditions. The topic for my 15 page essay will be on the environmental challenges affecting poor and minority communities, specifically with a case study about Barrio Logan. The ISCOR theme I will be focusing on is environmental justice.
Environmental justice is a grassroots movement that deals with environmental burdens and their distributional consequences. ” (Visgilio and Whitelaw) Through my studies, I have learned that the majority of the front men and women of the environmental justice movement are predominantly, indigenous groups, Latinos and African American. Although race and ethnicity are an important factor, in this 15 page essay I will be focusing on how social class also plays a big role in who will be sustaining the unequal share of our society’s environmental consequences.
Compared to middle and higher class neighborhoods, poor and disadvantaged communities tend to lack political and economic leverage. The reason for minimal involvement is due to cultural migrant experiences, including fear of deportation since the majority of the community is undocumented, also known as illegal immigration status. Thus, not only is representation and advocacy for community services and resources is diminished, the act of speaking up and being visible comes at the cost of deportation.
As result, they are the ones to bear the burden of toxic, hazardous and chemical waste. Since interning at BLCI, I have been able to interact with parents and kids, hear their stories and learn that the majority of these families aren’t talking about environmental injustice or thinking about environmental issues, not because they don’t know about them or how they are being affected by them daily, but because it’s harder for them to directly change these issues.
It’s mainly been difficult because the chemical and naval corporations in the vicinity are unwilling to negotiate with the ommunity to redevelop, forcing this community to be physically pinned down. Also, unfortunately local government hasn’t been helpful either. Therefore, my prospective on how the community is addressing these issues has changed, and how I see gentrification issues of the community. Lastly, due to these external factors, families rather work on and combat other tangible social justice issues, such as immigration, food insecurity and healthcare mainly because they can directly see the results of their efforts.
In order to discuss my theme throughout my paper, I will start off by briefly acknowledging the environmental issues affecting Barrio Logan. Respectively the challenges and struggles it took to bring a redevelopment community plan to the city council table and how the rezoning plan would have changed the multi-use development structure of the community. After discussing the issues that came with this cause, I will exemplify the broader challenges low-income communities around the United States are facing regarding social and environmental injustices.
This leads to my second portion of the paper where I address how society’s environmental decisions negatively affect predominantly lowincome communities by analyzing the history of these communities and other sociopolitical issues that also contribute to unfair environmental burden such as gentrification and lack of access to resources. The third part of my essay will be showing how social and economic development is put before the health of low-income communities, which contain minorities and immigrant residents. I will be using Barrio Logan as an example of an area where there is high toxic air pollution compared to the rest of the city.
To further develop my essay, I will be showing how BLCI has become a place where members of the community can come together and combat social, political and even environmental issues together. Additionally, I will discuss the impact BLCI has on empowering and motivating its families, through the use of higher education, in order to improve the well-being of the community in the long-term. I will then discuss the services BLCI provides, which include educating parents on community resources and services, in order for them to become community advocates.
If time permits, I plan to interview a parent who has become an advocate for environmental justice in the community due to the support and assistance of BLCI. After talking about BLCI, I plan to come full circle and mention the environmental justice movement and the strong emphasis on the equal right to safe, healthy and clean community for all types of people. The scholarly materials that I will be using throughout my paper are addressed in the following pages alphabetically by author. My internship at BLCI has been an amazing experience thus far.
It has definitely reminded me why I decided to major in ISCOR and purse a career relating to environmental and social justice. As a result, the topic I will be discussing in my 15 page essay is the environmental challenges affecting poor and minority communities, specifically with a case study about Barrio Logan. My theme is environmental justice and how the ones generally disproportionally affected the mostly residents who happen to be immigrants, certain minority groups such Mexicans or African Americans, and pertain to lower economic social class.