Have you ever been in a toxic relationship?
With a partner, friend or family member? What about with your neighborhood mega-polluter? CBE met with community experts in Richmond— youth and adult community members with over 30 years of community expertise and together, we came up with our top 5 traits that make up a toxic relationship and broke down how they play out specifically in Richmond’s relationship with the Chevron refinery.
Trait #1: L Y I N G
Lying is the deliberate act of deviating from the truth.
Chevron has continuously lied to the community about the safety of their operations and the general safety of their overall presence in Richmond. For one, refining is inherently a dangerous practice. With this practice comes other threats that further jeopardize the health of the community like flaring.
Trait #2: M A N I P U L A T I O N
Manipulation is the skillful handling, controlling or using of something or someone.
Chevron has manipulated the city of Richmond and its people with their handouts to the community and regular presence at community events to maintain a positive image, while continuing to poison the people and influence local politics in the background.
Trait #3: G A S L I G H T I NG
Gaslighting is a specific type of manipulation where the manipulator is trying to get someone else or a group of people to question their own reality, memory, or perceptions.
We know that air pollution causes significant health problems. To use the example of flaring again, during flaring events – residents experience shortness of breath, headaches, red, itchy eyes and elevated levels of air pollution that can trigger asthma attacks and other respiratory issues. But Chevron gaslights the community’s lived experiences by continually stating that flaring is safe and that the emissions or “steam” are part of normal refinery operations according to a tweet from Chevron in Richmond two years ago.
Trait #4: C O D E P E N D E N C Y
Codependency is characterized by a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all their emotional and self-esteem needs. It also describes a relationship that enables another person to maintain their irresponsible, addictive, or underachieving behavior.
Chevron, the toxic partner in this relationship has made Richmond dependent on them, serving as the largest employer in the city of Richmond as well as providing the city with funding from taxes.
According to our research, there are several figures as to how many people Chevron currently employs but we estimate that the number is around 2000-3000 workers. However, only about 10-20% of the refinery’s workforce resides “in the City of Richmond and other parts of West Contra Costa County” according to Beacon Economics and the city of Richmond’s annual report.
Trait #5: P A R A S I T I S M
Parasitism is the practice of living as a parasite in or on another organism or the habitual reliance on or exploitation of others.
Chevron is the parasite that has been exploiting Richmond, by taking advantage of the city’s central location, exploiting the impacted community through unsafe jobs and using the land to create their products and pollute only to sell almost all products outside of Richmond. Chevron relies on Richmond’s location and the people of Richmond to continue business as usual.
Why are we doing this?
The narrative that Chevron is essential to the city of Richmond for the community to survive and thrive is still alive. This story is rooted in fear and an uncertainty of the future, which is totally valid.
It is important for us to disrupt this narrative that Richmond cannot continue to survive and thrive without Chevron, because this refinery has been polluting the air and poisoning the people of Richmond for too long.
The city of Richmond has been in a toxic relationship with the Chevron refinery for long enough. It’s about time for Richmond to rise up and break out of this toxic relationship and declare #ItsOverChevron.
When corporations like Chevron continue to do business as usual, they are threatening the very existence and safety of all living beings on this planet and the generations that have yet to come. If Chevron continues to refine at their current capacity, it will only be downhill from here.
Richmond is a beautiful, powerful and resilient community.
We believe that a healthy and thriving Richmond is possible without the presence of Chevron. We believe that the people of Richmond deserve to breathe clean air, live in a safe and healthy environment and have local, well-paying jobs that don’t harm our health or our planet. We believe that Richmond should not be a sacrifice zone. We believe in a Just Transition.
A Just Transition means a Richmond powered by the people who live in Richmond, a future #BeyondChevron. It includes a healing and transition of the land that Chevron currently occupies, more green spaces for community to gather and relax in, a regenerative economy that invests in renewable energy and allows environmental justice communities to build wealth and breathe clean air. We also envision a local, living, sustainable and just food system by and for Richmond residents that cares for land, water, air and all living beings. This reality is only going to be possible with organizing, unity, and when #RichmondDumpsChevron.