Why are African Americans so underrepresented when it comes to interest in nature, outdoor recreation, and environmentalism? In this thought-provoking study, Carolyn Finney looks beyond the discourse of the environmental justice movement to examine how the natural environment has been understood, commodified, and represented by both white and black Americans. Bridging the fields of environmental history, cultural studies, critical race studies, and geography, Finney argues that the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and racial violence have shaped cultural understandings of the "great outdoors" and determined who should and can have access to natural spaces. Drawing on a variety of sources from film, literature, and popular culture, and analyzing different historical moments, including the establishment of the Wilderness Act in 1964 and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Finney reveals the perceived and real ways in which nature and the environment are racialized in America. Looking toward the future, she also highlights the work of African Americans who are opening doors to greater participation in environmental and conservation concerns.
Author: Camille T. Dungy
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Release Date: 2009
Black Nature is the first anthology to focus on nature writing by African American poets, a genre that until now has not commonly been counted as one in which African American poets have participated. Black poets have a long tradition of incorporating treatments of the natural world into their work, but it is often read as political, historical, or protest poetry--anything but nature poetry. This is particularly true when the definition of what constitutes nature writing is limited to work about the pastoral or the wild. Camille T. Dungy has selected 180 poems from 93 poets that provide unique perspectives on American social and literary history to broaden our concept of nature poetry and African American poetics. This collection features major writers such as Phillis Wheatley, Rita Dove, Yusef Komunyakaa, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sterling Brown, Robert Hayden, Wanda Coleman, Natasha Trethewey, and Melvin B. Tolson as well as newer talents such as Douglas Kearney, Major Jackson, and Janice Harrington. Included are poets writing out of slavery, Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, and late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century African American poetic movements. Black Nature brings to the fore a neglected and vital means of considering poetry by African Americans and nature-related poetry as a whole. A Friends Fund Publication.
Author: Dianne D. Glave
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Release Date: 2010-08-01
With a basis in environmental history, this groundbreaking study challenges the idea that a meaningful attachment to nature and the outdoors is contrary to the black experience. The discussion shows that contemporary African American culture is usually seen as an urban culture, one that arose out of the Great Migration and has contributed to international trends in fashion, music, and the arts ever since. But because of this urban focus, many African Americans are not at peace with their rich but tangled agrarian legacy. On one hand, the book shows, nature and violence are connected in black memory, especially in disturbing images such as slave ships on the ocean, exhaustion in the fields, dogs in the woods, and dead bodies hanging from trees. In contrast, though, there is also a competing tradition of African American stewardship of the land that should be better known. Emphasizing the tradition of black environmentalism and using storytelling techniques to dramatize the work of black naturalists, this account corrects the record and urges interested urban dwellers to get back to the land.
Author: James Edward Mills
Publisher: Mountaineers Books
Release Date: 2014-09-24
Genre: Sports & Recreation
• Chronicles the first all-African American summit attempt on Denali, the highest point in North America • Part adventure story, part history, and part argument for the importance of inspiring future generations to value nature The nation’s wild places—from national and state parks to national forests, preserves, and wilderness areas—belong to all Americans. But not all of us use these resources equally. Minority populations are much less likely to seek recreation, adventure, and solace in our wilderness spaces. It’s a difference that African American author James Mills addresses in his new book, The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors. Bridging the so-called “adventure gap” requires role models who can inspire the uninitiated to experience and enjoy wild places. Once new visitors are there, a love affair often follows. This is important because as our country grows increasingly multicultural, our natural legacy will need the devotion of people of all races and ethnicities to steward its care. In 2013, the first all-African American team of climbers, sponsored by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), challenged themselves on North America’s highest point, the dangerous and forbidding Denali, in Alaska. Mills uses Expedition Denali and its team members’ adventures as a jumping-off point to explore how minority populations view their place in wild environments and to share the stories of those who have already achieved significant accomplishments in outdoor adventures—from Mathew Henson, a Black explorer who stood with Peary at the North Pole, to Kai Lightner, a teenage sport climber currently winning national competitions. The goal of the expedition, and now the book, is to inspire minority communities to look outdoors for experiences that will enrich their lives, and to encourage them toward greater environmental stewardship.
Author: Sylvia Hood Washington
Release Date: 2017-06-23
Genre: Social Science
Sylvia Hood Washingtons Packing Them In provides strong and often startling evidence of the depths and complexities of environmental racism in Chicago, and offers an innovative historical explanation for how this social ill developed in nineteenth and twentieth century America. Drawing from Michel Foucaults concept of power/knowledge and from theories of racial formation, Washington also demonstrates how the process through which some European immigrant groups were reclassified from non-white to white over time, allowed them to move out of spaces where they faced environmental injustice into spaces of environmental privilege. This argument represents a significant contribution to environmental justice studies and suggests a comparative and relational ethnic studies approach to future treatments of the subject. Packing Them In is a path breaking book and a welcome addition to the fields of environmental history and environmental justice studies (David Naguib Pellow, Dehlsen professor of Environmental Studies, University of California Santa Barbara, and author of Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago). A pathbreaking book. Sylvia Hood Washington uses Chicago as a case study of how human health inequalities in urban environments change over time. In showing the ways white identity shaped exposure to environmental pollutants in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, she provides historical context to the environmental racism identified in the United States in the late twentieth century. Packing Them In is instructive for those seeking to understand the structural origins of the present struggle for environmental justice, and a model for undertaking studies of urban environmental history that address the struggle. This model remains as important today as it was when Packing Them In was first published (Carl Zimring, associate professor and coordinator of the Sustainability Studies, Pratt Institute, and author of Clean and White: A History of Environmental Racism). Packing Them In is a path-breaking book that is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding how the social, political, and economic dimensions of urban environmental issues evolve over time. Packing Them In makes a significant contribution to the environmental justice literature as it challenges the notion that racism and inequalities arise solely from black-white dynamics. By using history to understand the evolution of racial and spatial dynamics and by embedding the work in Michel Foucault theoretical framework of power and knowledge, Washington demonstrates the importance of expanding traditional environmental justice frameworks in the analysis of case studies such as these (Dorceta E. Taylor, James E. Crowfoot, collegiate professor of the University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and Environment).
Author: Kimberly N. Ruffin
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Release Date: 2010
Genre: Literary Criticism
American environmental literature has relied heavily on the perspectives of European Americans, often ignoring other groups. In Black on Earth, Kimberly Ruffin expands the reach of ecocriticism by analyzing the ecological experiences, conceptions, and desires seen in African American writing. Ruffin identifies a theory of “ecological burden and beauty” in which African American authors underscore the ecological burdens of living within human hierarchies in the social order just as they explore the ecological beauty of being a part of the natural order. Blacks were ecological agents before the emergence of American nature writing, argues Ruffin, and their perspectives are critical to understanding the full scope of ecological thought. Ruffin examines African American ecological insights from the antebellum era to the twenty-first century, considering WPA slave narratives, neo–slave poetry, novels, essays, and documentary films, by such artists as Octavia Butler, Alice Walker, Henry Dumas, Percival Everett, Spike Lee, and Jayne Cortez. Identifying themes of work, slavery, religion, mythology, music, and citizenship, Black on Earth highlights the ways in which African American writers are visionary ecological artists.
Author: Kimberly K. Smith
Release Date: 2007
Examines the works of Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, and several other canonical figures, to uncover a rich and vital tradition of black environmental thought from the abolition movement through the Harlem Renaissance. Provides the first careful linkage of the early conservation movement to black history, the first detailed description of black agrarianism, and the first analysis of scientific racism as an environmental theory.
Author: Alison Hope Alkon
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Release Date: 2012-11-01
Genre: Social Science
Farmers markets are much more than places to buy produce. According to advocates for sustainable food systems, they are also places to "vote with your fork" for environmental protection, vibrant communities, and strong local economies. Farmers markets have become essential to the movement for food-system reform and are a shining example of a growing green economy where consumers can shop their way to social change. Black, White, and Green brings new energy to this topic by exploring dimensions of race and class as they relate to farmers markets and the green economy. With a focus on two Bay Area markets--one in the primarily white neighborhood of North Berkeley, and the other in largely black West Oakland--Alison Hope Alkon investigates the possibilities for social and environmental change embodied by farmers markets and the green economy. Drawing on ethnographic and historical sources, Alkon describes the meanings that farmers market managers, vendors, and consumers attribute to the buying and selling of local organic food, and the ways that those meanings are raced and classed. She mobilizes this research to understand how the green economy fosters visions of social change that are compatible with economic growth while marginalizing those that are not. Black, White, and Green is one of the first books to carefully theorize the green economy, to examine the racial dynamics of food politics, and to approach issues of food access from an environmental-justice perspective. In a practical sense, Alkon offers an empathetic critique of a newly popular strategy for social change, highlighting both its strengths and limitations.
Drawing on theories of sublimity, trauma, and ecocriticism, this book examines how the often sharp division between European American and African American experiences of the natural world developed in American culture and history, and how those natural experiences, in turn, shaped the construction of race.
Author: Dianne D. Glave
Release Date: 2006
An analysis of the relationship between African Americans and the environment focuses on three major themes: African Americans in the rural environment, African Americans in the urban and suburban environments, and African Americans and the notion of environmental justice.
Author: Laura Pulido
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
Release Date: 1996
Genre: Political Science
Ecological causes are championed not only by lobbyists or hikers. While mainstream environmentalism is usually characterized by well-financed, highly structured organizations operating on a national scale, campaigns for environmental justice are often fought by poor or minority communities. Environmentalism and Economic Justice is one of the first books devoted to Chicano environmental issues and is a study of U.S. environmentalism in transition as seen through the contributions of people of color. It elucidates the various forces driving and shaping two important examples of environmental organizing: the 1965-71 pesticide campaign of the United Farm Workers and a grazing conflict between a Hispano cooperative and mainstream environmentalists in northern New Mexico. The UFW example is one of workers highly marginalized by racism, whose struggle--as much for identity as for a union contract--resulted in boycotts of produce at the national level. The case of the grazing cooperative Ganados del Valle, which sought access to land set aside for elk hunting, represents a subaltern group fighting the elitism of natural resource policy in an effort to pursue a pastoral lifestyle. In both instances Pulido details the ways in which racism and economic subordination create subaltern communities, and shows how these groups use available resources to mobilize and improve their social, economic, and environmental conditions. Environmentalism and Economic Justice reveals that the environmental struggles of Chicano communities do not fit the mold of mainstream environmentalism, as they combine economic, identity, and quality-of-life issues. Examination of the forces that create and shape these grassroots movements clearly demonstrates that environmentalism needs to be sensitive to local issues, economically empowering, and respectful of ethnic and cultural diversity.
Author: Ellen Stroud
Publisher: University of Washington Press
Release Date: 2012-12-15
The once denuded northeastern United States is now a region of trees. Nature Next Door argues that the growth of cities, the construction of parks, the transformation of farming, the boom in tourism, and changes in the timber industry have together brought about a return of northeastern forests. Although historians and historical actors alike have seen urban and rural areas as distinct, they are in fact intertwined, and the dichotomies of farm and forest, agriculture and industry, and nature and culture break down when the focus is on the history of Northeastern woods. Cities, trees, mills, rivers, houses, and farms are all part of a single transformed regional landscape. In an examination of the cities and forests of the northeastern United States-with particular attention to the woods of Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Vermont-Ellen Stroud shows how urbanization processes there fostered a period of recovery for forests, with cities not merely consumers of nature but creators as well. Interactions between city and hinterland in the twentieth century Northeast created a new wildness of metropolitan nature: a reforested landscape intricately entangled with the region's cities and towns.
Author: Anita Hill
Publisher: Beacon Press
Release Date: 2011-10-04
Genre: Social Science
From the heroic lawyer who spoke out against Clarence Thomas in the historic confirmation hearings twenty years ago At the historic Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, Anita Hill spoke out courageously about workplace sexual harassment. Now she turns to the topic of home. As our country reels from the subprime mortgage meltdown and the resulting devastation of so many families and communities, Hill takes us inside this “crisis of home” and exposes its deep roots in race and gender inequities, which continue to imperil every American’s ability to achieve the American Dream. In this period of recovery and its aftermath, what is at stake is the inclusive democracy the Constitution promises. The achievement of that ideal, Hill argues, depends on each American’s ability to secure a place that provides access to every opportunity our country offers. Building on the great strides of the women’s and civil rights movements, Hill presents concrete proposals that encourage us to broaden our thinking about home and to reimagine equality for America’s future. From the Hardcover edition.