Commemorating Juneteenth

Note: Yale School of the Environment (YSE) was formerly known as the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). News articles and events posted prior to July 1, 2020 refer to the School's name at that time.

The anniversary of Juneteenth, particularly at this moment in our country’s history, should be an occasion when we all stop and reflect on the deep-seated and unjust systems that created the reality of slavery, and in many ways remain embedded today, manifesting in systemic racism and violence and micro-aggressions directed at black Americans. It is an occasion when we should all consider how we can actively take steps to change these systems. It’s an obligation we all have as individuals, as institutions, and as a larger society.
As President Obama said in 2016: 

“Today we commemorate the anniversary of that delayed but welcome news. Decades of collective action would follow as equality and justice for African-Americans advanced slowly, frustratingly, gradually, on our nation’s journey toward a more perfect union. On this Juneteenth, we remember that struggle as we reflect on how far we’ve come as a country…. Juneteenth is a time to recommit ourselves to the work that remains undone. We remember that even in the darkest hours, there is cause to hope for tomorrow’s light. Today, no matter our race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, we recommit ourselves to working… to steer our country truer to our highest ideals.”

Racism pervades every aspect of our society, including the environment. Racism is an environmental issue, and the impact of racism in the environment can be seen everywhere, from the under-representation of Black Americans in environmental policymaking roles to how the communities of Black Americans and people of color are disproportionately affected by air pollution. As a School dedicated to providing knowledge and leadership for a sustainable future, we know that we won’t be able to achieve true sustainability unless we realize environmental equity. Below are some resources and publications for those of us (hopefully all of us) seeking to educate ourselves on racism and the environment. We can all play a role in achieving true equity in the environment.

Racism and the Environment Resources

Antiracist Resources


"Heartwood," a podcast hosted by Thomas RaShad Easley, assistant dean of community and inclusion at F&ES, examines the intersection of environmental issues and diversity. 

Yale University Open Course

African American History: From Emancipation to the Present 
This course, taught by historian and former Yale Professor Jonathan Holloway, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2010.



We encourage you to read “The Environment and the People in American Cities: 1600s-1900s,” the first history of environmental injustice in America, and “The Rise of the American Conservation Movement: Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection,” both by Dr. Dorceta Taylor, who will join our School on July 1, and “The Miner’s Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy,” co-authored by Dr. Gerald Torres, a professor of environmental justice at our School, and Dr. Lani Guinier, a professor of law at Harvard University.

Here is a comprehensive list of scholarly articles, research and other resources:

  • Banerjee, Anindita, “Atoms, Aliens, and Compound Crises: Central Asia’s Nuclear Fantastic,” Science Fiction Studies, special issue on “The Climate Crisis," 45, 3, 2018, 454-68.
  • Banerjee, Subhankar, ed., Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point, Seven Stories Press, 2012.
  • Bullard, Robert, Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality, Routledge, 2000.
  • Cronon, William, “The Trouble with the Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature,” Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, edited by William Cronon, W.W. Norton & Co., 1995, 69-90.
  • Deloria, Philip J., Playing Indian, Yale UP, 1998.
  • Dillon, Lindsey and Julie Sze, “Police Power and Particulate Matters,” English Language Notes, 54, 2, 2016, 13–23.
  • Dowie, Mark, Losing Ground: American Environmentalism at the Close of the Twentieth Century, MIT P, 1996.
  • Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne, An Indigenous People’s History of the United States. Beacon Press, 2015.
  • Dungy, Camille, Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, U of Georgia Press, 2009.
  • Estes, Nick. Our History is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance, Verso, 2018.
  • Finney, Carolyn, Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors. U of North Carolina P, 2014.
  • Francis, John, Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking, 17 Years of Silence
  • Frazier, Chelsea M., "Troubling Ecology: Wangechi Mutu, Octavia Butler, and Black Feminist Interventions in Environmentalism." Critical Ethnic Studies 2, no. 1 (2016): 40-72.
  • Gilmore, Ruth Wilson, “Fatal Couplings of Power and Difference: Notes on Racism and Geography.” The Professional Geographer, 54, 2002, 15–24.
  • Glave, Diane, Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage, Lawrence Hill Books, 2010.
  • Hilo-Whitaker Dina, As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice From Colonization to Standing Rock, Beacon P, 2019.
  • Harris, Cheryl, “Whiteness as Property. Harvard Law Review,” 106, 1993, 1707–1791.
  • Hayashi, Robert, Haunted by Waters: A Journey through Race and Place in the American West, U of Iowa P, 2007.
  • Hundorf, Shari, Going Native: Indians in the American Cultural Imagination, Cornell UP, 2001.
  • La paperson, “A Ghetto Land Pedagogy: An Antidote for Settler Environmentalism.” Environmental Education Research, vol. 20, no. 1, 2014, pp. 115-30.
  • Jackson, John, and Nadine Weidman, Race, Racism, and Science: Social Impact and Interaction, Rutgers UP, 2006.
  • Karuka, Manu, Empire’s Tracks: Indigenous Nations, Chinese Workers, and the Transcontinental Railroad, U of California P, 2019.
  • Kimmerer, Robin Wall, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, Milkweed, 2013.
  • Mbembe, Achille, “The Universal Right to Breathe,” Critical Inquiry, translated by Carolyn Shread, 13 April 2020.
  • Miles, Tiya, “Black Bodies, Green Spaces,” June 19 2019 
  • Moore, Jake Kosek, and Anand Pandian, eds., Race, Nature, and the Politics of Difference. Duke UP, 2003.
  • Monani, Salma and Jodi Adamson, Ecocriticism and Indigenous Studies: Conversations From Earth to Cosmos, Routledge 2017.
  • Mukerjee, Rahul, Radiant Infrastructures: Media, Environment, and Cultures of Uncertainty, Duke UP, 2020.
  • Nixon, Rob, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Princeton UP, 2011.
  • Norgaard, Kari, Salmon & Acorns Feed Our People: Colonialism, Nature, and Social Action. Rutgers UP, 2019.
  • Pellow, David Naguib and Lisa Sun-Hee Park, The Silicon Valley of Dreams: Environmental Justice, Immigrant Workers, and the High-Tech Global Economy, NYU P, 2002.
  • Pulido, Laura, Tianna Bruno, Cristina Faiver-Serna and Cassie Galentine (2019) “Spectacular Racism, Environmental Deregulation and the White Nation” Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 109, 2, 2019, 520-532.
  • Pulido, Laura, "Geographies and Race and Ethnicity II: Environmental Racism and Racial Capitalism" Progress in Human Geography. 41, 4, 2016, 524-533.
  • Purdy, Jedediah, This Land is Our Land: The Struggle for a New Commonwealth, Princeton UP, 2019.
  • O'Brien, William E., Landscapes of Exclusion: State Parks and Jim Crow in the American South, U of Massachusetts P, 2015.
  • Outka, Paul, Race and Nature from Transcendentalism to the Harlem Renaissance, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.
  • Ray, Sarah, The Ecological Other: Environmental Exclusion in American Culture, U of Arizona P, 2013.
  • Rayson, Alex K. and S. Susan Deborah, eds., Ecodocumentaries: Critical Essays, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.
  • Ruffin, Kimberly, Black on Earth: African American Eco-Literary Traditions, U of Georgia P, 2010.
  • Savoy, Lauret, Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape, Counterpoint, 2016.
  • Simpson, Leanne, As We Have Always Done, U of Minnesota P, 2017.
  • Slovic, Scott, Swarnalatha Rangarajan, and Vidya Sarveswaran, Ecocriticism of the Global South, Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.
  • Smith, Kimberly, African American Environmental Thought, U of Kansas P, 2007.
  • Spence, Mark, Dispossessing the Environment: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks, Oxford UP, 2000.
  • Sze, Julie, Paul M, Ong, and Charles Lee, editors. Asian American and Pacific Islander Environmentalism, special issue of aapi nexus 11, 1 & 2, 2013.
  • Sze, Julie, ed., Sustainability: Approaches to Environmental Justice and Social Power, NYU P, 2018.
  • ----. “Asian American, Immigrant and Refugee Environmental Justice Activism Under Neoliberal Urbanism,” Asian American Law Journal, 18, 15-23.
  • ----. Environmentalism in a Moment of Danger, U of California P, 2020.
  • Taylor, Dorceta E., The Rise of the American Conservation Movement: Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection. Duke UP, 2016.
  • Wald, Sarah, The Nature of California: Race, Citizenship, and Farming Since the Dust Bowl, U of Washington P, 2016.
  • Wald, Sarah, David J Vázquez, Priscilla Solis Ybarrra, Sarah Jaquette Ray, eds. Latinx Environmentalisms: Place, Justice, and the Decolonial, Temple UP, 2019.
  • Walker, Gordon, Beyond Distribution and Proximity: Exploring the Multiple Spatialities of Environmental Justice, 41, 4, 2009, 614-636.
  • Whyte, Kyle, “Settler Colonialism, Ecology, and Environmental Injustice,” Environment and Society: Advances in Research 9, 2018, 125-144. (All of his research can be found here.) 
  • Wildcat, Daniel. Red Alert: Saving the World Through Indigenous Knowledge, Fulcrum, 2009.
  • Woods, Clyde and Katherine McKitterick, eds. Black Geographies and the Politics of Place, co-edited with Katherine McKittrick, South End Press, 2007.
  • Wright, B.H., Bullard, R.D., & Johnson, G.S., “Confronting Environmental Injustice,” [Special Issue]. Journal of Race, Gender, and Class, 5, 1997, 65-79.
  • Ybarra, Priscilla, Writing the Good Life: Mexican American Literature and the Environment, U of Arizona P, 2016.
  • Yusoff, Katherine. A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None, U of Minnesota P, 2018.