People of color 3x more likely to live in ‘nature deprived’ U.S. neighborhoods - National Geographic
Posted: 29 Jul 2020 10:20 AM PDT
In March, Philadelphia-based emergency room doctor Eugenia South found herself deep in the throes of stress. The COVID-19 pandemic was spiraling out of control in the city, and more and more patients were pouring into the hospital where she worked, which was short of masks. South knew she had to protect her three young children at home and somehow keep herself calm and clear-eyed.South had spent years doing scientific research on the powerful effects of nature on human health, both physical and mental. So every day, even in the damp chill of the waning winter, she walked down the street to a small park nearby and sat quietly for just a few minutes among the trees, letting her body relax.That opportunity to take a moment in nature is something many researchers have increasingly identified as valuable for people's mental and physical health. But a new report underscores a reality that many Black and brown Americans have recognized for years: In the United States, people of color live in places with less immediate access to nature than white people do. The report, led by the Hispanic Access Foundation and the Center for American Progress, found that communities of color are almost three times more likely than white communities to live in "nature deprived" areas, those that have less or no access to parks, paths, and green spaces.Historical racism in housing practices, city planning, and institutions has shaped the pattern, which has been well documented for decades. But its effects are particularly damaging this summer. During COVID-19-related restrictions, access to outdoor recreation has emerged as a crucial component of people's emotional and physical wellbeing. At the same time, it has become increasingly obvious that Black and brown Americans are unsafe in many of the country's public spaces."The distribution of these nature disparities is not an accident," says Shanna Edberg, one of the authors of the report and the director of Conservation Programs at the Hispanic Access Foundation. "It was a choice, made over generations, from redlining, to choosing to exclude minorities from certain neighborhoods, to choosing to put parks in certain neighborhoods, and choosing to pave over communities of color to build highways and coal plants." People of color are more likely to live in an area that is deprived of nature.Percent living in an area with less natural land than the U.S. state median23%WhiteAmerican Indian orAlaska Native48.2Asian66.9Hispanic or Latino67Black or African American68.2Low-income communities also live in less nature-rich areas.Moderate income47.8%High income51.9Low income69.7Low income and non-white76.4DIANA MARQUES AND IRENE BERMAN-VAPORIS, NG STAFFSOURCE: "THE NATURE GAP," JENNY ROWLAND,CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESSPeople of color are more likely to live in an area that is deprived of nature.Percent living in an area with less natural land than the U.S. state medianWhite23%American Indian orAlaska Native48.2Asian66.967Hispanic or LatinoBlack or African American68.2Low-income communities also live in less nature-rich areas.Moderate income47.8%High income51.9Low income69.776.4Low income and non-whiteDIANA MARQUES AND IRENE BERMAN-VAPORIS, NG STAFFSOURCE: "THE NATURE GAP," JENNY ROWLAND,CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS Nature as medicine
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