I walked down the path to White Clay Creek trying to allow my body to absorb some sunlight
while being aware of the loose rocks lining the path so I did not roll my ankle, my attention was more on the latter. The trail eventually was cleared of stones and replaced with sand, dirt, and dead grass. I was able to then take in my surroundings. No one was around so I was able to take in my first maskless deep breath in what has seemed like ages. In the air, spring and winter battled with the forces of the warm sun against the nip in the air, and it will be a couple of weeks before spring wins the battle. And even though the air dried my mouth and was sharp against my lungs, that breath felt better than using a new pack of Bic colored pens or finally smoothing out that stubborn wrinkling in my duvet cover.
I looked around to take in my wooded surroundings and everything reminded me of home. With White Clay Creek looking exactly like the Rocky River, only the water much more clear, and the branches bare of leaves but beginning to bud at the end, transport me to the Cleveland Metroparks with how identical it looks to the scenery back home. There, I decided I wanted to spend a bit more time listening to the stream in the creek and getting some sunlight. I walked back to my car and grabbed Clean and White so I could both do my homework while enjoying the outdoors. As I reached the street, I could hear multiple croaks and volume continued to grow as I made my way towards the parking spaces. I traced the noise to a small puddle, probably formed by the rain water and in it there were three small frogs. So needless to say, that was the highlight of my day.
Book in tow, for a second time attempted not to roll my ankle and happily, I succeeded. I went back to the same area I was before, and tried to find a tree trunk I could sit on that I could get to without being poked and scratched by a thousand little thorns and twigs. I carefully made my way to a fallen tree, taking the long route. I took too many pictures of the surroundings and sent them to people who, rightfully so, did not care that I was outside. I was amazed at just how clear the water was and sent a picture of it to my best friend commenting on it only to receive the response “ok grandpa”.
My gaze followed the water as it moved down the creek. I followed each little ripple with my
eyes periodically until something caught my eye. There, in the dirt, off to my right, was the tread of my left platform van, staring back at me. It then hit me about how many other footprints, both physical and environmentally I have left over my 20 years. Most of them I have probably been unaware of.
After I felt like it was time to return home, I gathered my things and left. Even though I was back in Sharp Hall, the checkered pattern of the sole of my shoe still remained embedded in the dirt.
My existence is filled with shoe prints, the empty plastic Sabra hummus container sitting beside me that I will recycle but it is only delaying the inevitable; the fire roasted salsa sitting in my fridge that I tried once and hated and will probably throw out at the end of May when I back up my dorm. I produce a lot of waste but because of my race, class, ethnicity, I will never experience the full repercussions of it.
About 5 miles away from the Cleveland Metroparks lies Cleveland, a city once controlled by the auto industry, now left abandoned and destitute partly because of the departure of General Motors. Although very close in distance, the Metroparks and Downtown Cleveland, look like two completely parts of the country. The Downtown has been ripped of trees, clean air, and clean water. Through the practices of redlining, and just overall racism, black people are “lawfully” segregated to Downtown. The effects of environmental racism are not felt by the whites in the suburbs today, nor were they felt by those in rural areas. Many of these problems are no better than the conditions immigrants in the tenement houses faced during the second Industrial Revolution. “On cold days when home use of coal was heavy, Pittsburg skies appeared black at noon” (141). With the natural air filtering system of trees plowed down and replaced with skyscrapers, the polluted air could not be clean then and continues to remain dirty in urban environments.
I live off heat and food and clothing whose waste I will never see the effects of. Just like the
tread of my van in the dirt, my actions do not affect me as much as those who live in the area
where my waste will go. This problem has been going on for far too long, but there seems to beno end in sight because the problems of waste and the effect that come from it are only felt by the poor and people of color, not the rich and in power.