Voices from the Gulf

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Originally posted in New American Journal on June 17th

MOBILE, Ala. – After a couple years trudging through the weeds and thickets of laws, regulations, technical standards, hazard assessments, health effects, economic impacts and other consequences of petroleum storage tanks, Mobile has arrived at nearly the same place it began this trek.

Photo: Cover Page from No Petro-Chemical Storage Tanks on Our West Bank–A Compendium of Citizen Concerns

Originally posted in New American Journal on May 13th

MOBILE, Ala. – Thoroughbreds charging around the final turn and down the homestretch. Blinders strapped on the sides of their faces to keep their attention on the finish line straight ahead. Preakness Stakes at Pimlico racetrack in Baltimore. Second leg of the Triple Crown later this week.

Image:  Horse and Human Blinders, by Walter Simon

In the southwestern corner of Africatown, wedged between two sections of freshly cut new lumber produced by one of Mobile's most successful lumber companies, sits the remains of Africatown's Lewis Quarters. Lewis Quarters was aptly named because it was founded by and inhabited by descendants of Cudjoe Lewis, the youngest of the last shipment of slaves to be brought into this country in 1860. Lewis Quarters is just north of the deepest part of the Three Mile Creek and at one time encompassed all of that section of Africatown.

On Monday, April 20th, Gulf Coast fisherfolk, residents, and artists gathered at BP's Houston headquarters to speak out about the ongoing impacts of the BP oil disaster. Advocates said fisheries and the communities that depend on them are in serious decline. “When BP says it has done right for the Gulf, they are lying,” said Thao Vu* of Biloxi, Mississippi, "Less than 18% of the health claims submitted have been approved and even fewer have actually been paid out. While BP plays games with our media and with our court system, our fishing families are sick and suffering.”

I’m Darin Acosta. I grew up in Norco, Louisiana. That’s influenced a lot of work and research that I do. Most of my creative output centers around industrialization in the River Parishes. I went to graduate school for urban and regional planning at UNO (University of New Orleans), where I learned GIS (geographic information system), so I apply GIS  to my creative work in order to introduce users to environmental justice histories in the region that I grew up in. 

"So let it be written, so let it be done." Let history record that much like the Freedom Riders came down from the North to help Southerners in their Civil Rights struggle during the 60's, students from Oberlin College near Cleveland, Ohio traveled 1000 miles to help residents of Africatown in Mobile, Alabama in their ongoing quest for economic and environmental justice as well as social respect. 

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