Title: Laotian Community of Richmond, CA in the late 90s and early 2000s: A healthy lifestyle in a toxic environment
Author Biography: I am Luis Alfredo Chiang, a student at NJIT. I chose to work on this project for two reasons. The first reason is that I am an Asian American, and I have noticed that when people talk about racism, many do not think about how Asian Americans can be victims of that too. The second reason is that I find it interesting how a community can be so negatively affected by environmental issues when the majority of the residents are linguistically isolated.
Site Description: For my research project I am studying the Laotian community in Richmond California between the 90s and 2000s. The Laotians are people that like to take care of their land and live off of it. They are a community of farmers and hunters. This is no different from the Richmond Laotian community, who still like to grow their own vegetables and go fishing for food. The problem with the Richmond Laotian community specifically is that they live in an area that contains over 350 toxic facilities, including the Chevron Oil Refinery, which is the biggest contributor to pollution in the state. Because of this, their land and bay have become polluted. This means that their game and crops are polluted with toxins, which they ingest. Even worse is that the authorities knew about this, but did not act proactively to ensure the safety and well being of the community. Not even legible warning signs in their language were placed in relevant locations to communicate the health risks they were exposed to. I am studying the contaminated environment of Richmond, California (around the San Francisco bay area) and the culture of the Richmond Laotian community. I am studying this topic because I want to find out how their use of their environment’s resources exposed them to health risks. With this I aim to help my reader understand how a community’s relation with their environment can expose them to health risks.
Keywords: Asian American, Toxics, Water, Pollution, Food, Factories, Community