Home > environmental justice > A Toxic Game – Basketball in the Shadow of Refineries

A Toxic Game – Basketball in the Shadow of Refineries

In eyeshot and “smellshot” of both the Motiva and Valero refineries, Hilton Kelley talked about his history and the history of the Carver Terrace housing complex where he grew up.  He moved out of the government-funded housing in 1976 when his mom had enough money for a house, but when he returned in 2000, not much had changed except for the residents.  At the complex, we saw African-American families, little kids, senior citizens, and everywhere in between.

After his briefing we split off and tried to talk to residents who had seemed to disappear after our four matching vans pulled in.  Some groups had success in talking to people who returned to ask about our arrival, and a news crew tailing us tried tugging at heartstrings by recording a little girl and her mom during an interview.  Several of us set off toward the basketball courts where there was a game of basketball going on.

I played basketball with residents Dee, Dooney, and Jack, and Kate and Stephan from our trip and between shots and them taking us to school with their skills; we talked about the refineries and the pollution.  They seemed to know stuff was wrong, but there wasn’t much they thought they could do about it.  The refineries were necessary to the health of Port Arthur as a city but at the expense to the health of its citizens.  After sweating a little bit and starting to feel light-headed, we were brought back to reality by our group moving on across the playground.  After our goodbyes, we rejoined our group and continued our toxic tour of Port Arthur.

-Nathan Kaufman

Hoops with Carver Terrace Residents (Photo: Rosler)

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