Identity is a complex social construct that affects the interactions and organization of various groups and individuals in the society. The societal hegemonies are often created based on racial formation, where authorities label people in groups according to their race, gender, or class. However, sometimes people belong to more than one racial project due to intersecting identities. Particular issues, such as global warming, affect individuals according to their racial formation. While global warming is affects every individual, it can be observed that through racial formation and intersectionality, some gender and racial projects affect people of different identities differently. This paper addresses ways in which racial formation and intersectionality relate to global warming.
Societal hegemonies create racial and gender project to divide individuals and groups of people, thus creating difference through racial formation. According to Omi and Winant, racial formation refers to the creation, inhabitation, transformation, and destruction of racial groups through a socio-historical process. Historically, racial projects were involved in representing and organizing groups of people in social structures. The racial projects enhanced racial dynamism, creating borders that determine the organization of resources. For instance, African Americans are categorized as all people with black skin colour, or black blood in their line. Unfortunately, no single identity can fully define an individual due to intersectionality.
Originating from feminism theoretical frameworks, intersectionality offers an inclusive perspective of categorizing individuals by incorporating all social issues according to race, gender, religion, and class. According to (HoSang et al., 27), racial differences intersect since the various social categories are interconnected. As such, issues of gender, race, and class overlap, making them interdependent sources of disadvantage. For instance, aspects of race and gender intersect in the representation of African American women. Understanding this overlap of identities enhances efforts of mitigating discrimination through an inclusive approach.
Global warming affects different groups of people in diverse ways across race, gender, and class. The world’s poorest people are especially hit by natural disasters arising from global warming, such as droughts, famine, diseases, and floods. The gender gap implies that women are continuously disadvantaged in the community; leading to the highest population of the world’s poor being female. Additionally, the society is organized in such a way that minority groups such as African Americans and Hispanics live in poor neighbourhoods due to poverty as part of racial formation. Intersectionality relates to global warming in the case where African American women are disproportionately affected by climate change due to their race and gender. Chances of black women being poor and living in dangerous neighbourhoods prone to pollutants are extremely high due to the society’s racial projects that oppress them and limit their chances of advancing.
Differential Effect on Other Groups
Although global warming is an international challenge, the issue may differentially affect certain groups as compared to others. In some instances, the people that suffer the consequences of climate the most are not necessarily the core contributors to the problem. For instance, the ethnic communities living in the Amazon region experience the harsh effects of global warming since their homes are destroyed following extensive exploitation and encroachment of the forest. On the contrary, people living in the Western world do not experience the effects of global warming as directly as the ethnic communities do. Additionally, African Americans in the U.S are highly exposed to air pollutants due to their proximity to toxic waste facilities. People living in leafy suburbs, the rich, are often the owners of factories that are built close to residential homes in poor communities (Zhang 1).
Global Warming is Tied to Larger Structures of Power and Oppression
Power structures create aspects of dominance and privilege that discriminate against members that do not fit into the standard preferences. The mainstream group s over represented, making it easy to address issues that face this group, while the minority are underrepresented, unheard, and ignored. For instance, colonialists oppress their colonial territories by overexploiting their natural resources without regard for the people’s safety. The emission of greenhouse gases while extracting oil from colonial territories, for instance, exposes the residents and workers to extensive health and climate change implications. Currently, countries enjoying economic monopolies oppress other nations by exerting their power to protect their interests while exposing the developing nations to global warming. Political entities can also wield their power to favour the privileged group in drafting policies intended to mitigate global warming. Thus, privileged communities are protected and conserved while the minority are exposed to climate change effects due to underrepresentation.
It is unquestionable that global warming affects the entire humankind. As a young adult in the year 2019, I must be more concerned with the disasters it brings compared to the older generation who is currently running this country, and the world. It can evidently be seen through statistics that the younger generation is in fact more aware of the growing danger, which is the reason I focused this current issue paper on this topic. Another reason why I am personally affected and interested in this topic is due to my countries recent policies. The Republic of Turkey has recently begun a project to build a nuclear base on one of its most beautiful islands on the Mediterranean, with support from Russia. The countries will be running the plant jointly, and therefore splitting the profits.
However, Russia will not be facing any of the dangers posed by such a project, such as the waste that will ruin the island. Russia, which is a larger economic power is taking advantage of Turkey being less developed in the energy sector and gaining profit while my country partakes in the risks. Many Turkish people have gone against this, yet the government is continuing with project. The reason this relates to global warming and this paper is due to a larger structure of power, Russia, taking advantage of a relatively less developed country’s resources. While it is a minor example of this, it directly mirrors what is going on in the rest of the world. Just like how the natives in the Amazon are facing the consequences of hegemonic nations and corporations economic greed, the Turkish people are facing the same in a smaller scale.
In brief, global warming affects individuals differently, based on their identities. The process of categorizing people according to their racial groups is referred to as racial formation. However, people prescribe to different identities due to their different experiences under diverse situations. Thus, intersectionality implies that various identities intersect and these are interdependent. Thus, an individual can be the oppressor and the oppressed at the same time due to intersectionality. For instance, the effects of global warming affect the poor and the people of colour disproportionally due to their disadvantage in life. Dominant communities are overrepresented while minority groups are underrepresented, creating power structures that oppress the less fortunate. Under these power structures, the opinions and concerns of the poor are ignored or undermined, which explains why this group experiences the adverse effects of global warming more severely. Thus, global warming is related closely to issues of racial formation and intersectionality.
- HoSang, Daniel Martinez. LaBennett, Oneka. and Pulindo, Laura. Racial formation in the twenty-first century. California: University of California Press. 2012.
- Omi, Michael and Winant, Howard. Racial Formation in the United States (1st ed.), New York: Routledge. 1986.
- Zhang, Melody. The intersectionality of climate change: Racism and poverty. WorldRenew. 2019.