HEALTH

Black Communities Are Hotter. And That’s Because of Systemic Racism

An analysis of the way institutional racism impacts heat exposure

Allison Wiltz
Momentum
Published in
6 min readJul 7, 2024

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Black and white photo of a woman sitting in sunlight | Photo by P aul Uchechukwu via Pexels

“Fun in the sun” may not be possible for those languishing in blistering heat in America’s urban areas. Last August, the temperature reached 105°F in New Orleans, Louisiana, breaking a 1980 record — residents suffered the hottest summer on record. Meteorologists expect that this year may be even hotter in the Crescent City. This story is common throughout the country, as citizens are experiencing heat advisory warnings. Exposure to extreme heat in cities poses a social problem, as individuals living in these areas are more susceptible to heat stroke, exhaustion, cramps, and rashes. Prolonged physical exertion paired with heat stress is linked to rhabdomyolysis, which causes muscles to decay. And there are a host of other illnesses associated with prolonged sun exposure. However, if you’re Black, you’re much more likely to live in a “heat island.” Why?

America’s legacy of racial redlining, a policy that isolated the vast majority of Black people in neighborhoods systematically deprived of resources, is not a ghost but a living, breathing monster. That’s because the lived experiences of Black people in the modern era are intrinsically tied to the explicitly racist…

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Allison Wiltz
Momentum

Black womanist Scholar bylines @ Momentum, Oprah Daily, ZORA, GEN, EIC of Cultured #WEOC Founder allisonthedailywriter.com https://ko-fi.com/allyfromnola