In celebration of Black History Month, we’ll be highlighting a diverse range of books – poetry, novels, memoirs and more – all written by Black American authors. Each of these works moved, engaged, delighted, enraged, and excited Island Free Library readers’ this past year, and we’ll be featuring one title every day through the month of February.
Today’s work is Carolyn Finney’s Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors. A study of the ways that Black Americans have been excluded from environmentalism, Finney debunks the idea that Black Americans have had no role or connection to the natural world, and instead introduces environmentalists such as Sylvia Stark and John Francis, among others. Finney provides historical background from slavery to Jim Crow, from the whiteness of Outside magazine to the racial violence of being Black in public outdoor spaces, and her argument for a full re-imaging of American environmentalism is compelling. This work is required reading for anyone who considers themselves an environmentalist.
Carolyn Finney is an author and cultural geographer, a public speaker, consultant and teacher. Finney has been a Fulbright Scholar, a Canon National Parks Science Scholar and she received a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Environmental Studies. Currently working on a public art piece, Finney is an artist-in-residence and the Environmental Studies Professor of Practice in the Franklin Environmental Center at Middlebury College. Stay tuned for a new book tomorrow!