State of the Union: African Americans and the Great Outdoors


This is the theme of a not-to-miss panel discussion at the Black Environmental Thought Conference this week at the University of Minnesota, presented by Carolyn Finney, Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley; Nina S. Roberts, Ph.D., San Francisco State University; and Michael Starkey, M.A., Dominion of New York magazine.

In this panel, these three thought leaders will discuss ideas and concepts of resilience born out of a legacy of limitation and marginalization in the U.S. (slavery, Jim Crow, racism, etc.). They will explore where the tensions lie for Black people trying to engage the environment on their own terms, within a larger societal context.

In addition, this panel will provide information about the various forms of Black expression that highlight (as we do here at Outdoor Afro) how African Americans have and have always had an intimate, ever-changing and significant relationship with varying historical and present-day connections to the land. Using themes from their own academic work as a starting point, they plan to pose the following questions for discussion:

  • What are implications for our future–engaging or not engaging a broader constituency in the climate change debate and the role of the “new” voices in the regeneration of our communities?
  • How do we engage a diverse public in protecting natural landscapes?
  • What happens if our nation loses voters in support of parks and public lands when these spaces are threatened?
  • How can Black Environmental Thought inform this process?
  • What are some of the generative possibilities?

Feel free to chime in on this important conversation on Outdoor Afro, and share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page!


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