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Gerrymandering is yet another way that spatial inequalities manifest themselves. Through gerrymandering, the political system can perpetuate racial inequalities
by depriving specific populations of political power.


David E. Kramar, Aaron Anderson, Hayley Hilfer, Karen Branden, and John J. Gutrich


In 1987, and again 20 years later, the United Church of Christ (UCC) presented research showing that 60% of African Americans lived near an unregulated toxic waste facility. We build off the original UCC study and present an analysis of minority populations in relation to superfund sites, using the geometric complexity of congressional districts (CDs) as a proxy for gerrymandering within the lower 48 states. We further the analysis by looking at different areal aggregations and find that regardless of the aggregation there is a relationship between race and distance from superfund sites. Moreover, we address the issues of inherent complexity as it relates to coastal areas, which could bias the analysis, by systematically reducing the complexity within a geographic information system (GIS). At the CD level, there is a statistically significant relationship where race becomes “whiter” and less “African American” as the Euclidean distance increases from superfund sites. While there is a strong relationship between the gerrymander coefficient and the proximity to superfund sites (R2 = 0.58, DF = 347, p < 0.001), variables such as median income, air quality, and unemployment may account for the unexplained variance in the model. We also found a strong relationship between the percent white and a higher gerrymandering coefficient, indicating that minority populations are effectively “gerrymandered out” of the white and lower environmental hazard districts. This research is novel in that it suggests a calculated effort to marginalize minority populations and warrants further investigation while analyzing additional proxies for environmental hazards.


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