Race and Ethnicity

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Race and Ethnicity
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Race and Ethnicity
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Running Head: RACE AND ETHNICITY IN DISASTERS Race and Ethnicity in Disasters Name of Student Course Date 1 RACE AND ETHNICITY IN DISASTERS 2 Factors the HSEM Experts Should Understand The race and ethnicity issue has been a bone of contention in the USA since it affects the disaster preparedness and response. The country is a significant economic powerhouse thus it is very appealing to the majority of the people who end up being immigrants within the state. Besides, it is seen as the land of greener pastures since it offers immigrants from Latin America, Asia, and Africa a new sense of life since they are escaping from factors such as wars and poverty. However, the geographical position of the nation has made it vulnerable to natural disasters such as the Hurricane Michael that causes significant impacts to the people. The HSEM experts are compelled to assist everybody without considering their ethnic or racial background.Moreover, the country is a democratic state that is governed by a set of laws that states that each person is equal regardless of the ethnic background. Besides, the immigrants that are mostly the African Americans and the Hispanic people have more economic problems (Bolin, 2018). The specialists should consider the communities during their preparation such that the minority groups will be assisted faster in case an epidemic occurs. Besides, some are always in isolated areas with poor housing conditions hence it is advisable to offer a practical guideline on the management of the Hurricane Michael. Therefore, the race and ethnicity issue must be adequately addressed and understood by the experts. Functional Needs associated with Diversity Issues Disaster management requires professionals to have clear guidelines and policies regarding cultural diversity. The disaster has led to the massive losses within the society hence certain factors have to be respected. The vital functional needs that should be regarded include: Cultural Knowledge RACE AND ETHNICITY IN DISASTERS 3 The understanding of the different cultural backgrounds will lead to the experts gaining enough experience on the management of the calamity. Furthermore, various research indicates that the vulnerability of the minority groups is high as compared to the majority groups. Moreover, their reaction to disasters is slow due to the information asymmetry hence a lot of caution should be taken care off. The gaining of cultural knowledge will equip the officers on factors such as the beliefs and customs of the various communities. Social and Economic conditions The social problems in society such as housing problems, social support, and employment problems are a significant issue. There is a feeling of neglect by the minority groups. Thus it is imperative to handle them with caution. Besides, the minority groups mostly live in harsh economic conditions that prevent them from gaining disaster preparation such as taking insurance and medical cover. Moreover, the housing conditions are not pleasing since most of them are concentrated in a particular place that makes the diversification of the risk to be a challenge. The economic difficulties may lead to the hostility of the people during instances of disasters (Meyer, 2016). The HSEM experts should, therefore, develop policies that address the social and economic challenges within the minority groups. For instance, the disaster preparation should be in collaboration with the government in the improvement of the infrastructure within the communities. The development of the infrastructure will have a positive effect since it will enable the disaster preparation to be active and easily manageable. Pre-Disaster and Post-Disaster Management Policy Community needs determine how the disaster can be managed before and after it occurs. To address the pre-disaster problems, for instance, the community should have a proper wiring RACE AND ETHNICITY IN DISASTERS 4 system for power supply running all over the community to ensure that there is an adequate power supply. Besides, construction of boreholes and increasing the number of water harvesting materials would ensure that there is constant water supply within the community. Problems such as shortage of food and supply can easily be solved by providing that there are intense agricultural activities taking place in ensuring that food supply is maximized and that the community members are food secure. The professionals in HSEM the community should ensure that there are enough medical centers. However, in case a disaster has taken place great destruction has taken place in the community, several measures can be done to rectify the situation. Disasters like floods, it would be important that dams are constructed to avoid the destruction of agricultural activities. Several medical centers should be constructed in different locations that can serve in case of damage in one area. Ways of outreach to the community. Mass communication can be used to reach vulnerable community members can be gathered in one strategic place. Media such as radios can also be used, where the local dialect is embraced to reach all the community members who may be at a position of possessing one. The door to door method can be applied in this case by assisting both the infected and affected households in the community to address the destruction and ways forward. With aforementioned, the race and ethnicity situation can be improved through the engagement of every community regardless of their background. RACE AND ETHNICITY IN DISASTERS 5 References Bolin, B., & Kurtz, L. C. (2018). Race, class, ethnicity, and disaster vulnerability. In Handbook of disaster research (pp. 181-203). Springer, Cham. Meyer, M. A., Peek, L., Unnithan, N. P., Coşkun, R., Tobin-Gurley, J., & Hoffer, K. H. (2016). Planning for Diversity: Evaluation of a Volunteer Disaster Response Program. Journal of cultural diversity, 23(3). Disasters,1999, 23(2):156^173 Race, Ethnicity and Disasters in the United States: A Review of the Literature Alice Fothergill University of Colorado Enrique G.M. Maestas University of Texas JoAnne DeRouen Darlington Western Illinois University In this paper we synthesise past disaster research that addresses issues of race and ethnicity in the United States. Using an eight-stage typology to organise the findings, this literature review presents the results from a wide range of studies. The synthesis shows how various racial and ethnic groups perceive natural hazard risks and respond to warnings, how groups may be differentially affected, both physically and psychologically, and how disaster effects vary by race and ethnicity during the periods of emergency response, recovery and reconstruction. We show that studies have important findings, many illustrating that racial and ethnic communities in the US are more vulnerable to natural disasters, due to factors such as language, housing patterns, building construction, community isolation and cultural insensitivities. By presenting these studies together, we are able to witness patterns of racial and ethnic inequalities that may be more difficult to see or interpret in individual studies that take place in one specific time and place. We conclude the review with policy and research recommendations. Key words: race and ethnicity, United States, natural disasters. The environmental justice movement examines social and racial inequities in exposure to technological risks and hazards, monitors environmental racism in the siting of hazardous materials, and seeks to eradicate the disproportionate vulnerability faced by racial and ethnic communities in the US due to technological hazards (Bullard, 1990, 1994). Advocates of the environmental justice movement work to compile evidence to illustrate how certain racial and ethnic groups are disadvantaged in order to change policies and protect marginalised and less powerful communities in the US. As a result of their efforts, there is considerable national attention on this issue. While public concern grows over equity issues bound up with technological risks and hazards, less attention has been given to natural risks and hazards and the social inequities displayed in vulnerability to them. According to Blaikie et al. (1994), vulnerability may apply to a person or group in terms of their ‘capacity to anticipate, cope with, resist, and recover from the impact of a natural hazard’ (9). People’s vulnerability to natural hazards is determined not so much by the event itself but, by ß Overseas Development Institute, 1999. Published by Blackwell Publishers, Oxford OX4 1JF, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA. Race, Ethnicity and Disasters in the United States 157 social, economic and political processes, society creates different conditions under which people face hazards (Blaikie et al., 1994). In terms of racial and ethnic communities, we believe that there are links between racism, vulnerability and economic power in the disaster context that need to be explored. The disaster field has long acknowledged that natural disasters are ‘social’ events, having their foundation in the social structure, and recently the dialogue surrounding the vulnerability of racial and ethnic communities in the US has increased (Anderson, 1996; Peacock et al., 1997). None the less, a synthesis of the research outlining this vulnerability is lacking. As it stands, the existing studies on racial and ethnic differences cover such a wide spectrum of time, disaster event, place and racial group, that it is difficult to identify patterns and draw conclusions. The goal of this article is to review and synthesise the existing research literature on issues of race and ethnicity in times of disaster in the US in order to take stock of what is known and to identify gaps in our knowledge. The aim is to be as thorough, inclusive and exhaustive as possible in the review, and we draw on both qualitative and quantitative studies. The Natural Hazards Center Library at the University of Colorado was a starting-point for collecting all articles that focused on the social aspects of natural hazards and disasters. The majority of the articles reviewed here were identified by electronic searches of the database. We focused on the US, as previously much more attention has been paid to marginalised populations in other countries (see, for example Blaikie et al., 1994). We used the terms ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’, but each study used a variety of social labels for different individuals and groups, such as Anglos (white Americans) or blacks, African-Americans and more recently ‘people of colour’. As each study used different racial and ethnic terms, we have made an effort to present the terms used in the original research, in order to stay closest to the authors’ original meanings. Similarly, if the authors failed to place their findings in the context of the larger population, the information from the original article did not permit us to do so in this review either. To present the findings, we use a typology based on the stages of a disaster event. Borrowing from Fothergill (1996), the typology expands the cyclical framework of the human ecological perspective which uses the following categories: preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. The expanded typology consists of eight categories, based on the stages of a disaster: risk perception; preparedness behaviour; warning communication and response; physical impacts; psychological impacts; emergency response; recovery; and finally, reconstruction. This typology, designed for detailed literature reviews, uses refined categories as they provide more detail in the analysis, allow for more understanding of issues of stratification and help to pin-point the gaps in our knowledge base. We focus solely on climatological and geophysical hazards and disasters, such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. The results of the review follow; explanations for the findings are provided only if they were given by the original author. Research findings Risk perception This section examines how people viewed the risks and threats of disasters, and presents evidence of how groups held different risk perceptions. The research record 158 A. Fothergill, E. Maestas and J.D. Darlington shows that the findings for racial and ethnic groups’ perception of risk were mixed. Some illustrate that racial and ethnic communities in the US had a heightened perception of disaster risk, while others found no race or ethnicity differences. The specific research findings follow. In Ives and Furseth’s (1983) study of flooding in Charlotte, South Carolina, the results showed no significant difference in hazard perceptions along race lines. There was evidence that in the California earthquakes some immigrant groups had heightened perceptions of risk due to disasters they had previously experienced in Mexico. Prior to the Loma Prieta earthquake, the Watsonville residents who had experienced the Mexico City earthquake, or heard about it from relatives or friends, had more heightened perceptions of earthquake risks than other residents (Aptekar, 1990). Lindell et al. (1980), in research on flooding in a small town in 1978, found that Mexican-Americans tended to define a risk as high much less often than whites, even though they lived in equally hazardous areas. In terms of feelings of fatalism and risk perception, a study done by Turner et al. (1980) of earthquake threats in southern California, discovered differences between Anglos, blacks and Mexican-Americans. Their study found that blacks were much more fatalistic about earthquakes than Anglos, and felt that there was little or nothing one could do to protect against them. Mexican-Americans and white Anglos were about equal in their fatalistic feelings. However, some studies purport that white males as a category were the least worried about the risks of natural disasters. Palm (1996) discovered that white men were consistently the least concerned group about the risk to their homes in her study. Blanchard-Boehm (1997) reported that blacks were most likely to perceive the chances of a major earthquake seriously damaging their homes to be high or extremely high. Preparedness Preparedness is the stage of a disaster involving all pre-event preparation activities and mitigation efforts in advance of a specific warning. For example, preparedness behaviour includes stocking emergency supplies, mapping evacuation paths, response training, practice drills and disaster educational efforts. Little is known about differences in disaster preparation between racial and ethnic groups during this stage, but the limited literature suggests that there were some preparedness differences pertaining to race and ethnicity. In California, money had been allotted to preparedness after the Whittier-Narrows earthquake, yet information about these efforts were disseminated only in English (Tierney, 1993). Mejer (1994) explained that there is great cultural diversity in the ways families and communities enact a ‘culture of safety’ (201). Before Hurricane Andrew hit, black and Hispanic families were more likely than Anglo families to have been helped by relatives in preparing for the disaster (Morrow, 1997). Racial and ethnic communities were less likely to have had disaster educational opportunities in the earthquake-preparedness stage, and as such, they were also marginal to hazard preparedness (Faupel et al., 1992). Turner et al. (1980) studied various racial groups and their household preparedness and found several differences. Preparation, in their study, included having a flashlight, a battery-operated radio, a first-aid kit, stored food and water, putting latches on cupboards and giving children Race, Ethnicity and Disasters in the United States 159 earthquake instruction. They found that white Anglos prepared more than blacks or Mexican-Americans. Mexican-Americans had less interest in earthquake insurance than blacks or white Anglos. In their sample, white Anglos had higher education levels, incomes and occupation levels of the household head than blacks or MexicanAmericans. Blanchard-Boehm (1997) found that whites were more likely than blacks, Hispanics and Asians to make structural changes to minimise the damage an earthquake might cause to their home. Of those that did not make improvements, the reason most often given was that it was too expensive. Blacks were the least likely to stockpile emergency supplies, and Asians the least likely to develop an earthquake plan. Whites were the most likely to buy earthquake insurance (Blanchard-Boehm, 1997). Warning communication and response The warning communication and response stage entails receiving warnings, such as emergency broadcasts and tornado sirens, or other risk communication of an immediate danger, and taking some type of action in response to this warning, such as evacuation. The warning response process is initiated by hearing the warning, which leads to consideration of various behaviours. There have been several studies examining racial and ethnic differences in the various components of the warning process; the results of these studies follow. Some research addressed the sources of disaster warnings. Perry and Mushkatel (1986) found that Mexican-Americans used social networks to relay warning information more than blacks or whites, and that urban residents, particularly Mexican-American ones, had higher levels of warning information exchange. Phillips and Ephraim (1992) reported that Anglos received formal information from Englishlanguage sources and Latinos received informal information from family and friends based on events they experienced in other countries. Blanchard-Boehm (1997) also found that Hispanics were more likely than whites, blacks and Asians to use social networks for disaster information. Before Hurricane Andrew, minority households were likely to report that relatives were an important information source (Morrow, 1997), while Gladwin and Peacock (1997) found that over 14 per cent of their subjects relied exclusively on Spanish-speaking television and 32 per cent listened to Spanishlanguage radio for Hurricane Andrew information. Perry and Nelson (1991) confirm more ethnic differences between Mexican-Americans, whites and blacks, in hazard information dissemination. Mexican-Americans used social networks more than the other two groups, and they preferred neighbourhood meetings more than the others. Both minority groups were more likely to prefer local television for hazard information than whites. Perry and Mushkatel (1986) discover that blacks and Mexican-Americans preferred neighbourhood meetings as a communication channel regarding hazards more than whites. Other studies examine warning source credibility. In one study, the three groups studied — blacks, whites and Mexican-Americans — found warnings from an authority to be reliable. Mexican-Americans found the mass media to be reliable, whereas blacks and whites found the media to be a less-reliable source. Whites with previous disaster experience believed more strongly in the warnings they heard, but this did not hold true for blacks and Mexican-Americans (Perry and Mushkatel, 1986). 160 A. Fothergill, E. Maestas and J.D. Darlington Another study found that there were ethnic differences in the credibility of warning sources and in the warning confirmation process: minorities were more likely to value social networks as a source than whites, and minorities attempting to confirm the warnings contacted a greater number of sources than did whites (Perry and Lindell, 1991). Several studies explored the issue of the effectiveness of warnings and risk communication. Aguirre (1988), after researching failed tornado warnings in Texas, concluded that in the US disaster warning effectiveness ‘ ...
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