Black Faces, White Spaces
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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In March of 2007, I was invited to the University of Vermont to speak to the academic community about the intersection of race and the environment. I had given versions of this talk at other universities where, with the exception of a few historically black colleges in the South, my audience was largely white...
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In May 2006, Vanity Fair, a monthly magazine with national distribution, published a special issue focusing on environmental issues. Labeled the “Green Issue,” it had such celebrities as Julia Roberts and George Clooney, resplendent in green, alongside politicians Al Gore and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., gracing its cover...
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While working on this book, I watched the movie Far and Away, starring Tom Cruise as the son of a poor Irish farmer and Nicole Kidman as the daughter of a wealthy landowner, set in the 1800s. (I had seen it before.) It focuses on Europeans, both rich and poor, who were driven to leave their homes in Europe and come to the United States, seduced by the promise of land ownership...
2. Jungle Fever
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A picture speaks a thousand words. In the case of the April 2008 cover of Vogue magazine featuring famous sports figure LeBron James and supermodel Gisele Bündchen, a picture can also generate controversy, frustration, and charges of racial insensitivity (Sullivan 2008).1...
3. Forty Acres and a Mule
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In the summer of 2000, the New York Times ran an eight-week series on race in America. One story focused on the Magnolia Plantation, a symbol of the Old South in Natchitoches, Louisiana. For Betty Hertzog, who owned the land and who had spent her life in the main house built by her ancestors, the financial burden of maintaining the home and the accompanying land became too much to bear...
4. Black Faces
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Hurricane Katrina is considered one of the worst natural disasters in our country’s history. On August 29, 2005, the first Category 5 hurricane of the year slammed into Louisiana and Mississippi, leading to a breach in the 17th Street canal levee in New Orleans and flooding the entire Ninth Ward (Dyson 2006)...
5. It’s Not Easy Being Green
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On a warm, autumn day in October of 2005, approximately eighty individuals assembled to spend three days at the Summit 2005 conference on “Diverse Partners for Environmental Progress” in Wakefield, Virginia. This historic conversation connected leaders from various environmental, community, and national organizations and movements to “develop a common framework that supports a pro-environment slate of issues” (“Steps for the Future” 2005)...
6. The Sanctified Church: How Sweet It Is
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Fear. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is defined as: to have fear in; to have a reverential awe of; and, to be afraid of—some one, some place, some thing that is not necessarily easily defined or seen. In my capacity as a scholar-activist, and as an African American, I have been asked, particularly by white environmentalists, journalists, and scholars, about the role that fear plays in shaping the collective African American environmental relationship...
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Not long ago, I was visiting my parents in Leesburg, Virginia, and they told me about a letter they had received from one of their old neighbors in Mamaroneck, New York. Enclosed in the note from their neighbor was a letter from the Westchester Land Trust. The trust had determined that the property my family lived on and worked for fifty years had “extensive scenic, naturally wooded frontage” and because it’s in the Mamaroneck River Watershed (the river is subject to flooding), protecting the property from further development could help prevent further flooding...
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Publication Year: 2014