On September 9, 2018, Hurricane Irma swept across south Florida, leaving a path of destruction across the entire state. Miami-Dade County, at the southern tip of the state, avoided a direct hit. However, the storm left the county and its dozens of municipalities with gigantic mounds of storm debris. As the weeks went by, the piles festered and frustration with the pace of the clean-up mounted. Two dump sites in particular drew the attention of media and community activists: a park ringed by single family homes in Liberty City, a black community in the heart of Miami; and historic Virginia Key, the only beach open to black citizens under Jim Crow segregation. This research examines three narratives -- media coverage, official explanations from local governments, and reactions on social media -- as a way to investigate how the dumping of storm debris in black spaces was justified, interrogated, and contested in the aftermath of one of the worst hurricanes to strike Miami-Dade County in over a decade. Climate change models predict the increasing frequency of super storms like Irma, and discussions of how coastal cities respond in terms of infrastructure and resiliency are growing. This investigation looks at two components of this response that have not been as widely considered: what are the institutional and citizen responses in the aftermath of these storms, and how will issues of race and historic geographic marginalization be either acknowledged or ignored as the problems associated with climate change grow ever more acute and pressing.
Shumow, M. (2019), "“Why is it Here, of All Places?”: Debris Cleanup, Black Space, and Narratives of Marginalized Geographies in Post-Irma Miami-Dade", Pinto, J., Gutsche, R. and Prado, P. (Ed.) Climate Change, Media & Culture: Critical Issues in Global Environmental Communication, Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 13-32. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78769-967-020191004Download as .RIS
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