A Look at Why Poorer Neighborhoods Are Warmer Than Richer Ones: raceAhead

September 4, 2019, 5:13 PM UTC

Here’s another privilege higher-income neighborhoods have over their lower-income counterparts: they are literally cooler. 

NPR, which conducted a study with the University of Maryland’s Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, found that in 97 of the country’s most populated cities, over three-quarters of them showed a trend: “where it’s hotter, it also tends to be poorer.”

Yes, large cities are hotter overall, thanks to the so-called heat island effect. Urban areas—with their traffic jams, concrete skyscrapers, and paved roads—are often warmer (by around 1.8 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) than surrounding rural areas. And at night, that difference can climb to 22 degrees Fahrenheit. 

But poorer neighborhoods have an even higher temperature discrepancy than financially better off communities—within the same city. It has to do with the fact that these areas have fewer amenities than higher-income neighborhoods (like parks), and are often located near eyesores, like highways. 

As NPR points out, the issue “is not just a matter of poor versus rich.” The neighborhoods with higher temperatures? They’re largely home to people of color. 

And it’s not by accident, Miya Yoshitani, executive director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, tells NPR. 

“People of color, African American communities, indigenous communities in the beginning and then immigrant communities as they came to the United States were not given a choice about where they could live, where they could raise their families, where they could work,” she says. It’s a “legacy” that clearly persists. 

She’s right. According to this 2018 study on the lasting impact of redlining, a form of racial discrimination which blocked certain areas from investments and services, 74% of areas that were redlined are “low-to-moderate income today.” And almost 64% are home to people of color. 

Note that extreme heat can lead to a list of health issues, like heat stroke, and also exacerbate chronic conditions. People of color are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases than their white counterparts. This is especially true for those in lower income brackets. 

And with that, here’s one last takeaway from NPR’s must-read investigation: “[A]s the planet warms, the urban poor in dozens of large U.S. cities will actually experience more heat than the wealthy, simply by virtue of where they live.” And there clearly wasn’t much choice in the matter.


On Point

Paypal suspends a donation account for the KKK (but it took awhile) “If it wasn’t for pesky protestors, it would’ve been business as usual for the cash app giant,” writes Karu F. Daniels for The Root. While KKK and Nazi “symbols” are prohibited under its policy, it took six days for Paypal to take action. And it’s not the first account that raises concern. Nandini Jammi, who has been following hate groups’ use of Paypal through her activism with Sleeping Giants, told the BBC that she has “concerns” that the company “is not able to act quickly and decisively” on accounts associated with such groups. The Root

Helping employees cover costs between paychecks More employers are offering advances and loans on paychecks, in an attempt to help employees, who live paycheck-to-paycheck, get by. The “payroll-advance programs” are usually online, according to the Wall Street Journal. They either let employees access (for a fee of a few dollars) part of their upcoming paycheck in advance, or, for larger amounts, offer loans that are deducted from their payroll overtime. In some cases, employers also offer these services along with “online tools” that provide help on budgeting, managing debt, and saving. Wall Street Journal

Roz Brewer on her career, and that Starbucks incident In this interview with Marie Claire, Roz Brewer discusses her career and how she went from a chemist at Kimberly-Clark to chief operating officer at Starbucks and an Amazon board member (not to mention the many leadership positions in-between). She also addresses the 2018 incident when a store manager called the police on two black men, who were simply having a meeting at a Starbucks, as many people do. Brewer had been at the company less than a year after it happened. “It was deeply personal,” says Brewer, who mentioned that her son was 23 years old at the time, the same age as the men arrested. “It was a day of reckoning and thinking about how we can make sure this never happens again in one of our buildings.” Marie Claire


On Background

Police killings increase in Brazil’s favelas From January to July, police raids in Rio de Janiero’s slums have led to 1,075 deaths (around five a day), reports the BBC. “Most of those who die are male, black and young. And while many are suspected criminals who have died in confrontations, there is also an unknown number of unarmed people and bystanders among the victims.” The raids are part of a government crackdown on the crime-ridden favelas, but while homicides, violent crimes, and robberies went down due to increased police presence, during that seven-month period, nearly “a third of all violent deaths” were caused by the police. The government is “openly encouraging the killings of people,” Dr. Ignacio Cano, a sociology professor at the State University of Rio, told the BBC. “In the past it was a more masked, subtler incentive. Today, it has become official policy.” BBC

Former FBI agent: ‘Charlottesville was a wake-up call’ In this interview with ProPublica, former federal agent Michael German, who went undercover in white supremacist groups for years, discusses efforts by the FBI to arrest hate group members. What’s immediately evident, says German in reaction to arrests associated with El Paso, is “that the FBI has all the authority it needs to act proactively against white supremacist violence.” And the increase in public pressure, particularly after the Charlottesville violence, has “compelled the FBI and the Justice Department to begin to take these crimes more seriously.” Read more for German’s insight on the potential impact. ProPublica

Some timeless advice on how to start networking in college College professors can be a valuable resource, both during your academic career and beyond. Here, Professor Catherine Denial of Illinois’ Knox College offers some advice on how to start building those relationships. Students should be respectful and use those hard-earned titles until the professor tell you otherwise, she writes. This is especially critical for people who have “faced significant obstacles” to become a professor (think women, people of color, non-binary, or trans people). Clear communication, whether written or in-person, is key. “Remember, we’re here to help you succeed, and we need to know the situations you’re facing in order to do that.” And on that, take advantage of those office hours. Click more for tips that are useful in any professional space. Teen Vogue

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“As is always the case, the poor and vulnerable are the first to suffer and the worst hit by climate impacts.”

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

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