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.
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
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Pre
Release Date: 2005-12
Genre: Social Science
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: 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.
From African American to Asian American, indigenous to immigrant, "multiracial" to "mixedblood," the diversity of cultures in this world is matched only by the diversity of stories explaining our cultural origins: stories of creation and destruction, displacement and heartbreak, hope and mystery. With writing from Jamaica Kincaid on the fallacies of national myths, Yusef Komunyakaa connecting the toxic legacy of his hometown, Bogalusa, LA, to a blind faith in capitalism, and bell hooks relating the quashing of multiculturalism to the destruction of nature that is considered "unpredictable" — amongst more than 35 other examinations of the relationship between culture and nature — this collection points toward the trouble of ignoring our cultural heritage, but also reveals how opening our eyes and our minds might provide a more livable future. Contributors: Elmaz Abinader, Faith Adiele, Francisco X. Alarcón, Fred Arroyo, Kimberly Blaeser, Joseph Bruchac, Robert D. Bullard, Debra Kang Dean, Camille Dungy, Nikky Finney, Ray Gonzalez, Kimiko Hahn, bell hooks, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Jamaica Kincaid, Yusef Komunyakaa, J. Drew Lanham, David Mas Masumoto, Maria Melendez, Thyllias Moss, Gary Paul Nabhan, Nalini Nadkarni, Melissa Nelson, Jennifer Oladipo, Louis Owens, Enrique Salmon, Aileen Suzara, A. J. Verdelle, Gerald Vizenor, Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Al Young, Ofelia Zepeda
Born on Emancipation Day, 1863, to a sharecropping family of black and Indian blood, Elijah Yancy never lived as a slave — but his self-image as a free person is at war with his surroundings: Spartanburg, South Carolina, in the Reconstructed South. Exiled for his own survival as a teenager, Elijah walks west to the Nebraska plains — and, like other rootless young African-American men of that era, joins up with the U.S. cavalry. The trajectory of Elijah’s army career parallels the nation’s imperial adventures in the late 19th century: subduing Native Americans in the West, quelling rebellion in the Philippines. Haunted by the terrors endured by black Americans and by his part in persecuting other people of color, Elijah is sustained only by visions, memories, prayers, and his questing spirit — which ultimately finds a home when his troop is posted to the newly created Yosemite National Park in 1903. Here, living with little beyond mountain light, running water, campfires, and stars, he becomes a man who owns himself completely, while knowing he’s left pieces of himself scattered along his life’s path like pebbles on a creek bed.
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.
Dudley Edmondson believes it is critical for people of color to get involved in nature conservation. He sought out 20 African Americans with connections to nature. The result is a compelling look at issues important to the future of public lands.
Author: Carl A. Zimring
Publisher: NYU Press
Release Date: 2017-10-03
When Joe Biden attempted to compliment Barack Obama by calling him “clean and articulate,” he unwittingly tapped into one of the most destructive racial stereotypes in American history. This book tells the history of the corrosive idea that whites are clean and those who are not white are dirty. From the age of Thomas Jefferson to the Memphis Public Workers strike of 1968 through the present day, ideas about race and waste have shaped where people have lived, where people have worked, and how American society’s wastes have been managed. Clean and White offers a history of environmental racism in the United States focusing on constructions of race and hygiene. In the wake of the civil war, as the nation encountered emancipation, mass immigration, and the growth of an urbanized society, Americans began to conflate the ideas of race and waste. Certain immigrant groups took on waste management labor, such as Jews and scrap metal recycling, fostering connections between the socially marginalized and refuse. Ethnic “purity” was tied to pure cleanliness, and hygiene became a central aspect of white identity. Carl A. Zimring here draws on historical evidence from statesmen, scholars, sanitarians, novelists, activists, advertisements, and the United States Census of Population to reveal changing constructions of environmental racism. The material consequences of these attitudes endured and expanded through the twentieth century, shaping waste management systems and environmental inequalities that endure into the twenty-first century. Today, the bigoted idea that non-whites are “dirty” remains deeply ingrained in the national psyche, continuing to shape social and environmental inequalities in the age of Obama.