ABOUT THE EPISODE

How are the racial injustice of slavery and environmental injustice of petrochemical plants compounding to impact the health effects of COVID-19 in southern Louisiana? How are communities, especially communities of color, responding to a high COVID death rate amidst the continuing legacies of racial and environmental injustice? Dr. Joy Banner, the Director of Media and Marketing at Whitney Plantation, Sophie Kasakove, a freelance reporter based in New Orleans, and Ashley Rogers, the Executive Director of Whitney Plantation and doctoral student at Louisiana State University, discuss the state of the pandemic in St. John the Baptist Parish and how past and present injustices are exacerbating the effects of COVID-19. Dr. Banner and Rogers discuss the long history of extractive logic that connects the economies of sugar plantations and petrochemical plants in southern Louisiana and how that has affected Black Americans in the region. Dr. Banner and Rogers also talk about their work on Whitney Plantation and how the site presents the perspective of enslaved people. Kasakove talks about her reporting on the effects of pollution from petrochemical plants on nearby residents and how pollution links to underlying conditions like asthma that can make people vulnerable to COVID-19. She also talks about how communities affected by the petrochemical industry have organized and engaged in activism in response to pollution and further development. For further reading: ‘Cancer Alley’ Has Some of the Highest Coronavirus Death Rates in the Country Concerned Citizens of St. John Rise St. James “New Research Links Air Pollution to Higher Coronavirus Death Rates”

TRANSCRIPT

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