In April 2020, we weren’t yet familiar with the terms: Environmental Racism, Environmental Justice, or Intersectional Environmentalism. Now, we’re on a new journey to learn about the corrupt systems that have prevented the Black community (and other underrepresented communities) from having equal and safe access to the joys and benefits of the outdoors.

In hopes that you’d like to join us, we’re sharing a list of the books we’re now aware of around the specific topic of Environmental Racism. We’re working to reverse our own ignorance, blindness, and silence.

It’s also worth noting that not every book written on this topic is included in this list. The books listed are ones that were most often / most highly recommended during our research. Our goal was to provide a substantial starting point and/or options to dive in deeper.

Books on Environmental Racism

Listed in order of publishing date. We’ve purchased almost of these books (either in paperback, kindle, or audiobook) because it’s now obvious that you can’t truly care for & protect the environment if you don’t care about all the people who are in it. The environment we need to protect isn’t just public lands: National Parks, Monuments, and Forests. And it isn’t just areas that have great climbing. It’s also cities – in the air we breath, in the water we drink, and in the food we have access to.

Note: We’re listing Amazon links below so you can easily read summary details and reviews. We encourage you to order from your your local bookstore.

  • A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind by Harriet A. Washington (Aug 2020)
    Environmental Racism - 15 Books For Climbers to Read 1Environmental Racism - 15 Books For Climbers to Read 2
  • Environmental Racism in the United States and Canada: Seeking Justice and Sustainability Hardcover by Bruce E. Johansen (April 2020)
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  • As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock by Dina Gilio-Whitaker (March 2020)
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  • Latinx Environmentalisms: Place, Justice, and the Decolonial by by Sarah D. Wald, David J. Vazquez, Priscilla Solis Ybarra, Sarah Jaquette Ray (Nov 2019)
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  • There’s Something In The Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous & Black Communities by Ingrid R. G. Waldron (April 2018)
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  • Clean and White: A History of Environmental Racism by Carl A. Zimring (Oct 2017)
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  • The Rise of the American Conservation Movement: Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection by Dorceta E. Taylor (Aug 2016)
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  • The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors by James Mills (Sept 2014)
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  • Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors by Carolyn Finney (June 2014)
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  • Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility by Dorceta Taylor (June 2014)
    Environmental Racism - 15 Books For Climbers to Read 17Environmental Racism - 15 Books For Climbers to Read 18Environmental Racism - 15 Books For Climbers to Read 19
  • Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage by Dianne D. Glave (2010)
    Environmental Racism - 15 Books For Climbers to Read 20Environmental Racism - 15 Books For Climbers to Read 21
  • From the Ground Up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement (Critical America) by Luke W. Cole & Sheila R. Foster (Nov 2001)
    Environmental Racism - 15 Books For Climbers to Read 22Environmental Racism - 15 Books For Climbers to Read 23Environmental Racism - 15 Books For Climbers to Read 24
  • Faces of Environmental Racism: Confronting Issues of Global Justice (Studies in Social, Political, and Legal Philosophy) by Laura Westra, Bill E. Lawson  (June 2001)
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  • Dumping In Dixie: Race, Class, And Environmental Quality by Robert D. Bullard (March 2000)
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  • Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry by Camille T. Dungy (Dec 2009)
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Again, the links above are Amazon links so you can read summaries and reviews. We fully encourage supporting a local business when you’re ready to buy.

Books on Environmental Justice

There is certainly overlap with Environmental Justice and Environmental Racism. If you Google Environmental Justice or search on Amazon you will see 40+ books (including the books listed above) come up.

Once we get through the initial reading list above we’ll pivot to adding Environmental Justice books to our list.

The reason we’re starting with Environmental Racism is because many of the books listed above came from recommended reading lists from the Black community.

Books on Racism & Black History

We’ll share the books we’re starting with on another page. To start, we chose books recommended by Black influencers that focus on understanding race, implicit bias, our own privilege, blindspots, and how to be an active ally/anti-racist. We invite you to start your own unique journey – the resources below are a fantastic starting point.

Research

Below you’ll find a number of links that helped us become aware of Environmental Racism. The resources below include recommended reading, videos, podcasts, and more. Many of these lists cover far more aspects of Blackness and racism than we touch on in this post.

Where to Buy

We ordered most of our books from Pyramid Books based in Florida. They have an incredible selection, were super nice on the phone, and shipped within 2 weeks of ordering (I bet if you call to order it would be faster than the online order form). If you’d like to find a more local Black-owned bookshop, this list has a helpful compilation:

You can order today from these black-owned independent bookstores.

Is There More? (Yes, always.)

If you have books you’d like to recommend we read, please let us know in the comments or via our contact form or email or phone. Although we are particularly interested in the stories that will help us understand the reality of outdoor public spaces and all underrepresented communities, we’re absolutely open to all suggestions. It’s clear that we have a lot of blindspots to uncover. We want to learn all that we can, work to take action, and help to change/dismantle the corrupt systems that got us here in the first place. Despite coming in late, we’re in it for the long haul. Black Lives Matter.

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Alison Dennis

Alison Dennis

Alison (she/her) runs WeighMyRack from her 17' travel trailer. She is currently touring the US and would love if you contacted her to meet up to talk about climbing, climbing gear, or if you have any fun and/or ridiculous adventure in mind.

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