Rooted in the Earth:
Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage
By Dianne D. Glave
"Crossing the ocean on a slave ship, working the land under threat of violence, eluding racists in nighttime chases through moonless fields and woodlands, stumbling across a murder victim hanging from a tree—these are images associated with the African American experience of nature. Over the decades, many African Americans have come to accept that natural areas are dangerous.
Unfamiliar with the culture's rich environmental heritage, people overlook the knowledge and skills required at every turn in black history: thriving in natural settings in ancestral African lands, using and discovering farming techniques to survive during slavery and Reconstruction, and navigating escape routes to freedom, all of which required remarkable outdoor talents and a level of expertise far beyond what's needed to hike or camp in a national forest or park.
In Rooted in the Earth, environmental historian Dianne D. Glave overturns the stereotype that a meaningful attachment to nature and the outdoors is contrary to the black experience. In tracing the history of African Americans' relationship with the environment, emphasizing the unique preservation-conservation aspect of black environmentalism, and using her storytelling skills to re-create black naturalists of the past, Glave reclaims the African American heritage of the land. This book is a groundbreaking, important first step toward getting back into nature, not only for personal growth but for the future of the planet."
To love the wind and the rain:
African Americans and environmental history
By Dianne D. Glave, Mark Stoll
“To Love the Wind and the Rain” is a groundbreaking and vivid analysis of the relationship between African Americans and the environment in U.S. history. It 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. Meticulously researched, the essays cover subjects including slavery, hunting, gardening, religion, the turpentine industry, outdoor recreation, women, and politics. “To Love the Wind and the Rain” will serve as an excellent foundation for future studies in African American environmental history."
African American Environmental Thought
by Kimberly Smith
"African American intellectual thought has long provided a touchstone for national politics and civil right, but, as Kimberly Smith reveals, it also has much to say about our relationship to nature. In this first single-authored book to link African American and environmental studies, Smith uncovers a rich tradition stretching from the abolition movement through the Harlem Renaissance, demonstrating that black Americans have been far from indifferent to environmental concerns.
Beginning with environmental critiques of slave agriculture in the early nineteenth century and evolving through critical engagements with scientific racism, artistic primitivism, pragmatism, and twentieth-century urban reform, Smith highlights the continuity of twentieth-century black politics with earlier efforts by slaves and freedmen to possess the land. She examines the works of such canonical figures as Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Alain Locke, all of whom wrote forcefully about how slavery and racial oppression affected black Americans' relationship to the environment. Smith's analysis focuses on the importance of freedom in humans' relationship with nature. According to black theorists, the denial of freedom can distort one's relationship to the natural world, impairing stewardship and alienating one from the land.
Her pathbreaking study offers the first 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. It also offers a new way to conceptualize black politics by bringing into view its environmental dimension, as well as a normativeenvironmental theory grounded in pragmatism and aimed at identifying the social conditions for environmental virtue.
Smith's work offers a new approach to established writers and thinkers and shows that they justly deserve a place in the canon of American environmental thought. African American Environmental Thought enriches our understanding of black politics and environmental history, and of environmental theory in general. Because slavery and racism have shaped the meaning of the American landscape, this body of thought offers us fresh conceptual resources by which we can make better sense of our world."