The EHN team is here to listen and (un)learn. We understand that racism and environmental injustice are two symptoms of white supremacist and colonial structures, and resist isolating environmental from social justice. We need to center the voices and experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and be explicit about how any environmental action is inextricable from social justice.
The list below includes some of the readings we’ve found helpful from Black scholars and activists who identify as women, trans and/or non binary people, and hope you do too.
These readings show the inherent importance of addressing racial and economic inequalities. Some offer a starting point to gain a deeper understanding of race, racism, and racial justice, while others help reshape our understanding of nature, environmental challenges, and the climate crisis.
*We regularly add new readings to this list (last update: February 28, 2022).
OluTimehin Adegbeye on how racism has little to do with feelings or color, but everything to do with power, profit, and freedom – “What Racism Really Is (Hint: It’s Not Your Attitude Or Belief),” The Correspondent (June 24, 2020).
Dr. Keisha N. Blain on Black Lives Matter and the global fight against racism – “Civil Rights International: The Fight Against Racism Has Always Been Global,” Foreign Affairs (September/October 2020).
—— on the long history of Black women’s activism and organizing in the U.S. – “The Pioneering Black Women Who Paved the Way for This Moment,” The Atlantic (June 9, 2020).
—— on making the connection between racism, inequality and the environment – “If We Don’t Solve Racial Injustice, We’ll Never Solve The Climate Crisis,” Huff Post (June 19, 2020).
—— on the climate crisis being linked to the oppression of Black and Indigenous peoples, and other people of color – “People of Color Experience Climate Grief More Deeply Than White People,” Vice (May 14, 2020).
Charlene A. Carruthers on making the movement for Black liberation more radical, more queer, and more feminist – Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2019).
Catherine Coleman Flowers on the lack of proper waste sanitation in rural U.S. as an issue of racial and environmental justice – Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret (New York, NY: The New Press, 2020).
Dr. Crystal M. Fleming on how race is represented in U.S. culture and life, and the need to challenge white supremacyu and intersectional oppression – How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2019).
Dr. Sheila R. Foster on how the unequal distribution of polluting facilities and other environmental hazard exposure can be addressed through civil rights and environmental law – “Vulnerability, Equality and Environmental Justice: The Potential and Limits of Law,” in The Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice, ed. Ryan Holifield, Jayajit Chakraborty, and Gordon Walker (New York, NY: Routledge, 2017), 136-148.
—— on the historical and contemporary causes for environmental racism (with Luke W. Cole) – From the Ground Up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement (New York, NY: NYU Press, 2000).
Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman on centering and celebrating Black expertise across economics, education, health, climate, and technology – “It’s Time for Black Experts to Be Heard,” The Nation (February 7, 2022).
Paris Giles on how people of color and low-income communities will be the first to experience the effects of climate change – “A Look at Climate Change and Why Black People Will Be Among Those Hardest Hit,” BLAC (May 19, 2019).
Dianne D. Glave on the history and connection Black people have to nature and the Earth – Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage (Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press, 2010).
Endia Hayes on land and dirt as archive for the histories of Afro-Texan women – “Dirty Knowings: What Afro-Texan Women Tell Us About Archiving,” Environmental History Now (February 12, 2021).
—— on how climate action needs not to be seperated from climate justice – “Climate Denial by Any Other Name,” Drilled News (February 25, 2020).
—— on the need to address racism as a root case for climate breakdown – “Climate Change Isn’t Racist — People Are,” Medium (August 13, 2019).
—— on the history and modern-day issues in regard to the intertwined relationship between crime and poverty – From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016).
Dr. Sylvia Hood Washington on how generations of Chicago’s poor, working class and ethnic minority residents have suffered disproportionately from the harmful effects of pollution – Packing Them In: An Archaeology of Environmental Racism in Chicago, 1865-1954 (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2004).
Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson on the role of feminism in addressing the climate emergency (with Katharine K. Wilkinson) – “Why We Need More Women Leading The Fight For The Planet,” Elle Magazine (September 22, 2020).
—— on including more expansive understandings of justice in environmental work – “We Can’t Solve the Climate Crisis Unless Black Lives Matter,” Time Magazine (July 9, 2020).
—— on why and how racial inequality and climate crisis are inextricably linked – “I’m a Black Climate Expert. Racism Derails Our Efforts to Save the Planet,” The Washington Post’s Made by History (June 3, 2020).
Dr. Martha S. Jones on the pursuit of political power of Black women – Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2020).
Alexandra Wanjiku Kelbert on how issues of climate change and race have been portrayed as separate – “Climate Change is a Racist Crisis: That’s Why Black Lives Matter Closed an Airport,” The Guardian (September 6, 2016).
Dr. Treva Lindsey on police and state violence against Black women, girls, trans and/or non binary people – “The Lack of Mobilzed Outrage for Police Killing Black Women is An Injurious Erasure,” Bustle (June 3, 2020).
Dr. Atyia Martin on the significance of framing and the role of agency when talking about racism – “Confronting Racism is Not About Saving People of Color or Bashing White People,” LinkedIn (January 25, 2020).
—— on the importance of critical thinking and humility in approaching systemic issues such as racism and climate change, and finding our individual roles in perpetuating those systems – “Racism and Climate Change Are About You,” TEDxDirigo (November 2017).
Dr. Katherine McKittrick on the politics of place that Black subjects, communities, and philosophers inhabit (with Clyde Woods, eds.) – Black Geographies and the Politics of Place (Toronto: Between the Lines Press, 2007).
Heather McTeer Toney on the importace of including Black voices as part of national conversations about policy solutions to climate change – “Black Women Are Leaders In The Climate Movement,” New York Times (July 25, 2019).
Dr. Koritha Mitchell on political advances for marginalised communities resulting in often-violent backlashes – “Recent Political Successes Have Made LGBT+ People Targets for Attack,” Openly (June 4, 2020).
Dr. Keisha-Khan Y. Perry on how black women’s views on development have radicalized local communities to demand justice and social change in Salvador – Black Women Against the Land Grab: The Fight for Racial Justice in Brazil (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2013).
Dr. Danielle M. Purifoy on how development, infrastructure, and environmental harm are intimately linked through legal and political contestation, and resource redistribution (with Louise Seamster) – “What is Environmental Racism for? Place-based Harm and Relational Development,” Environmental Sociology 1 (2020): 1-12.
—— on the “black map” of American life – “The South is Everywhere,” Scalawag (March 18, 2019).
Andrea J. Ritchie on profiling, policing, and criminalization of women and girls in marginalized communities – Invisible No More: Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2017).
Dr. Dorceta E. Taylor on the systemic problems that expose poor communities to environmental hazards – Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility (New York, NY: New York University Press, 2014).
Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor on state power reinforcing and perpetuating racism and violence against Black people – “Of Course There Are Protests. The State Is Failing Black People,” The New York Times (May 29, 2020).
Dr. Cheryl Teelucksingh on perceptions that the Black Lives Matter movement has given insufficient attention to environmental concerns – “Dismantling White Privilege: The Black Lives Matter Movement and Environmental Justice in Canada,” Kalfou: A Journal of Comparative and Relational Ethnic Studies 5, no. 2 (2018).
Abigail Abhaer Adekunbi Thomas on the usefulness of incorporating restorative justice practices into the environmental framework – “Intersectional Environmentalism Must Shape Climate Action, in The Black Agenda: Bold Solutions for a Broken System, ed. Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman (New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2022)
Adelle Thomas and Rueanna Haynes on how long-standing racist policies and practices have led to increased vulnerability of Black people to climate change impacts – “Black Lives Matter: The Link Between Climate Change and Racial Justice,” Climate Analytics (June 22, 2020).
—— on how multiple forms of oppression and inequity interact to shape social and environmental injustices – “‘I Can’t Breathe’ And The Inextricable Link Between Climate And Racial Justice,” Elle Magazine (September 3, 2020).
—— on how the Black Lives Matter movement and environmentalism are linked – “Why Every Environmentalist Should Be Anti-Racist,” Vogue (June 8, 2020).
Tamara Toles O’Laughlin on the climate movement not adequately or consistently standing in solidarity with Black-led efforts against systemic causes of harm – “If You Care About the Planet, You Must Dismantle White Supremacy,” Grist (June 15, 2020).
Dr. Ingrid Waldron on the legacy of environmental racism and its health impacts in Canada – There’s Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous and Black Communities (Black Point, NS: Fernwood Publishing, 2018).
—— on how exposures to environmental toxics poison communities of color in the U.S. – A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind (New York, NY: Little, Brown Spark, 2019).
*Cover Image Credit: We Got You Girl by Alexandra Bowman.