Jose Perez Vela

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Residents in low-income informal subdivisions are commonly abandoned by neoliberal municipalities that avoid the financial costs of providing access to essential services, exposing them to environmental and climate injustices. Community leadership is critical for communities of color living in low-income informal subdivisions to develop resiliency against environmental injustices that absent governments have intensified. Fieldwork in Floral Farms and a Freedmen Settlement in Southeast Dallas County were used to document the leadership of each community. Historical accuracy was strengthened through interviews with residents in tandem with participatory mapping techniques and historical archives collected from county data. Community relationships developed through the interviews guided research findings and exposed the opportunities community leaders offer informal subdivisions in resisting environmental injustices. This study shows that the Freedmen Settlement faces high poverty levels and lives without access to clean water or basic infrastructure. Successful examples, like how Floral Farms came together to clear the dumping that harmed their neighborhood, provide communities of color a chance to confront systemic failures that endanger their health and well-being. By filling in for absent political leaders and inviting everyone to the table, community activism offers low- income communities of color a compelling adaptation strategy for addressing precarity and environmental injustices.

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