The Wrong Complexion for Protection: How Government Response to Disasters Endangers African-American Communities

Wrong-Complexion-Book-Cover articleIn The Wrong Complexion for Protection, Robert D. Bullard and Beverly Wright explore the many systemic problems with the way the U.S. government has responded to natural and human-induced disasters over the past eight decades. Through both an exploration of the historical context and the compelling details of their personal stories, Bullard, the father of the environmental justice movement, and Wright make clear the socio-historical link between exploitation of land and exploitation of people and the relationship between racism and vulnerability.

They compare and contrast how the government responded to emergencies, including environmental and public health emergencies, toxic contamination, industrial accidents, bioterrorism threats and show that African Americans are disproportionately affected. Bullard and Wright argue that uncovering and eliminating disparate disaster responses can mean the difference between life and death for those most vulnerable in disastrous times.

“This book constitutes a searing indictment of the decades old unofficial war the U.S. government has waged against African Americans with regard to natural and unnatural disasters. Robert Bullard and Beverly Wright pull no punches and tell it like it is. The brutal realities of institutional racism in disaster readiness, response, and recovery are unveiled here in black and white, through compelling case studies, jaw-dropping statistics, and thoroughly documented sociological and historical data. The authors demonstrate persuasively why so few African Americans trust their government and how this negatively affects all Americans.” --David Naguib Pellow, co-author of The Slums of Aspen: Immigrants vs. the Environment in America’s Eden

“A tour-de-force: by merging sweeping histories of dozens of cases and a flood of numbers supporting their claims, Bullard and Wright have convincingly demonstrated a long history of unequal protection against industrial and ‘natural’ disasters across the U.S. South. A fascinating insiders’ account from the frontlines of the struggle to get the government to act fairly in the face of environmental injustice, with vast implications for future disasters.” --Timmons Roberts, author of A Climate of Injustice: Global Inequality, North-South Politics, and Climate Policy



Dr. Beverly Wright

Dillard University

2601 Gentilly Blvd.

New Orleans, LA  70122

(504) 816-4005


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