A Green, Black and Brown Summer Reading List

by Gen Rollins

Humid Philly summers are the perfect time for two great things—pawpaws and good reads. Here is a collection of literature to stretch your mind, and illuminate your own roots in the narrative.

Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors

Carolyn Finney

Dr. Finney writes an engaging depiction of historical and modern causes for the barriers keeping Black folks out of mainstream environmentalism and outdoorsmanship. She cites internalized fears due to long histories of nature-based racism, and evokes the strongholds against effective representation of African Americans in environmental fields. Finney's voice is earnest, recollective, and assertive. An eye-opening gaze into some of the amazing figures who color our earthly past and lay down the groundwork of our present. Best found through UNC Press, directly!

The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience and Farming

Natasha Bowens

An important read for diving into the intersectionality of food systems. Many of the collaborators of this book are speakers at the annual Black Farmers and Urban Growers Conference; an influential gathering of Black, Brown and green minds at work. If you are looking to understand the untold stories of our agricultural history, this resource is an open door. Natasha Rowens has created one of the few guides that discusses food systems of the present day through the lens of people of color. Bowens stresses that our connection to the land is more than preservative, but in fact an unbreakable tie to ancestry with great longevity and relevant context.

Land Justice: Re-imagining Land, Food, and the Commons

Justine M. Williams and Eric Holt-Giminéz

Knowing that this work is out there for us and by us, works like nutrients in my soil! Featuring an explorative chapter by Soil Generation leader and organizer, Kirtrina Baxter, on Black womanhood in agriculturalism, this book will feed you. An extensive and progressive look at how movements gain traction, “Land Justice” provides insight into the changing shapes of leadership, and how to put life back in the hands of those who need it most.

The Black Imagination: Science Fiction, Futurism, and the Speculative

Sandra Jackson

You may be wondering what a book about science fiction is doing in an urban agriculturalist newsletter. Here's the word—in order to progress, we must be able to imagine ourselves into the future, an ideology broadened by the work of Carolyn Finney. Sandra Jackson uncovers a collection of science fiction works that focus on race relations and the potentiality of newly defined selves, centering the narrative around Black and Brown thought. Jackson is an afrofutiristic author, with a pension for detail. If you're like me, your inner nerd will be as excited as an electron!

Planetwalker

John Francis, PhD

Reading like a soft breeze, or the resonant strum of a banjo, this true tail of Philadelphia native, John Francis, explores the little-known Black environmentalist. Dr. Francis walked for twenty-two years, 17 of those in silence, in protest of environmental damage done by the Exxon Mobil spill of the 1970s. His story is filled with quiet insights, vibrant personalities, and the contradictions of the human condition. Still very active, his organization Planetwalk invokes the spirit of environmentalism in young people, working to connect young folks with scientists and environmental liberators. A great read for those who need a place to dream.

A Few Extra Reads:

Sistah Vegan

Dr. A. Breeze Harper deconstructs the colonial nature of food systems, and how the way we eat relates to the bondage entrenched in Black womanhood in all its many iterations.

Braiding Sweetgrass

A North American Indigenous look at the biological factors and practices of working with nature. A must read for history lovers and story seekers.

The Adventure Gap

A balancing act between morals and pleasure, by the creator of the Joy Trip Project, full of questions, insights, and opportunity to close the gaps in our connection to the outdoors.

Radical Presence

The preliminary work of Dr. Carolyn Finney, author of Black Faces, White Spaces.

Black Nature

Nature poetry written by African American poets, for a sweet summer escape.

Trace

A swimming pool of imagery, relating to lived experiences of racialized bodies and the histories which guide them. A broad view of space and environment, starting in our very sense of recollective memory.

Rooted In the Earth

A spin on the understanding of African American traditions of urbanism. This book expresses the beauty of Black connection to the land, and our need for kinship with the Earth.