Mayah's Lot: Teaching Environmental Justice With Comic Books

Forthcoming chapter in The Media Method: Teaching Law With Pop Culture (Christine A. Corcos, ed.)

13 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2019

See all articles by Rebecca M. Bratspies

Rebecca M. Bratspies

City University of New York - School of Law

Date Written: August 22, 2019

Abstract

"Environmental Justice, I bet you don’t even know what that means…I had no idea that it actually affects every one of us. That is until it came to my home"

So begins Mayah’s Lot, the environmental justice comic that tells the story of Mayah, a young girl who inspires and organizes her urban neighbors to save a vacant lot from becoming an industrial toxic storage waste facility. It is a story that rings true for many environmental justice communities which are all too often overburdened with polluting industry, while rarely accruing much of the wealth those activities generate. Since its publication in 2012, Mayah’s Lot has been used in classrooms around the world. Readers learn alongside Mayah as she helps organize her neighborhood to prevent the siting of a hazardous waste facility in her already overburdened community.

This draft chapter for the forthcoming book The Media Method: Teaching Law With Pop Culture (Christine A. Corcos, ed.) to be published by Columbia Academic Press traces the Mayah’s Lot book project from its collaborative roots to its use in classrooms around the world. It explains the rationale for adopting the graphic novel (or comic book) format for a serious environmental justice project, and documents how the comic book has been used to teach basic civics, to build environmental justice advocacy skills, and to excite New York City students about learning more generally. Finally, the paper uses the resonance Mayah’s Lot has for law students, undergraduates, children, and community groups to draw some generalized lessons about using comic books for education about social justice.

Keywords: environmental justice, comic book, graphic novel, social justice, LULU, Mayah's Lot, citizen science, environmental democracy, art

JEL Classification: A22, A20, A21, A23, I20, I24, K32, Q01, Q28, Q32, Q34, Q51, Q52, Q53

Suggested Citation

Bratspies, Rebecca M., Mayah's Lot: Teaching Environmental Justice With Comic Books (August 22, 2019). Forthcoming chapter in The Media Method: Teaching Law With Pop Culture (Christine A. Corcos, ed.), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3441397

Rebecca M. Bratspies (Contact Author)

City University of New York - School of Law ( email )

2 Court Square
Long Island City, NY 11101
United States

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