Canopy’s ultimate reading list: Black History Month

By Canopy Team on February 1, 2022

February is Black History Month, and this month’s installment in the blog series of our favorite tree books includes works by influential Black voices writing about environmental justice and systemic racism that has shaped America and the relationship between Black Americans and nature.

Black Faces, White Spaces book cover

Black Faces, White Spaces by Carolyn Finney

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.

Buy it

Unequal Protection book cover

Unequal Protection: Environmental Justice & Communities of Color by Dr. Robert Bullard

A study of environmental racism discusses the issue of racial discrimination in environmental policymaking and the unequal enforcement of environmental protection regulations, describing the unfair treatment of communities of color and what can be done about it. Edited by Dr. Robert Bullard, the father of environmental justice.

Buy it

Clean and White book cover

Clean and White: A History of Environmental Racism in the United States by Carl A. Zimring

Tapping 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.

Buy it

Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage by Dr. Diane Glave

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.

Buy it

Where to find these books:

  1. The library: Visiting the local library is our favorite way to support a community institution and promoting reuse rather than new production of trees into paper.
  2. Second-hand bookstore: Can’t find these at your library but want to support a local business? Find a used bookstore and help give these pre-owned paperbacks new life.
  3. Local bookstore: Okay, okay. My library doesn’t own this book and the used bookstore doesn’t have it in stock – what now? With many of the recommendations, we’ve linked to the book on the Books Inc. website, an independently owned and operated bookseller with 10 locations in the San Francisco Bay Area and a history dating back to the Gold Rush Days of 1851.

Happy reading!

Other topics in this series: Plant wisdom, California edition, Earth Month, Photo books, National Field Guides, Narrative books

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