A soulful collection of illuminating essays and interviews that explore Black people’s spiritual and scientific connection to the land, waters, and climate, curated by the acclaimed author of Farming While Black
Author of Farming While Black and co-founder of Soul Fire Farm, Leah Penniman reminds us that ecological humility is an intrinsic part of Black cultural heritage. While racial capitalism has attempted to sever our connection to the sacred earth for 400 years, Black people have long seen the land and water as family and understood the intrinsic value of nature.
This thought-provoking anthology brings together today’s most respected and influential Black environmentalist voices —leaders who have cultivated the skill of listening to the Earth —to share the lessons they have learned. These varied and distinguished experts include Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author Alice Walker; the first Queen Mother and official spokesperson for the Gullah/Geechee Nation, Queen Quet; marine biologist, policy expert, and founder and president of Ocean Collectiv, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson; and the Executive Director of the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers, Land Loss Prevention Project, Savi Horne. In Black Earth Wisdom, they address the essential connection between nature and our survival and how runaway consumption and corporate insatiability are harming the earth and every facet of American society, engendering racial violence, food apartheid, and climate injustice.
Those whose skin is the color of soil are reviving their ancestral and ancient practice of listening to the earth for guidance. Penniman makes clear that the fight for racial and environmental justice demands that people put our planet first and defer to nature as our ultimate teacher.
Alice Walker • adrienne maree brown • Dr. Ross Gay • Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson • Rue Mapp • Dr. Carolyn Finney • Audrey Peterman • Awise Agbaye Wande Abimbola • Ibrahim Abdul-Matin • Kendra Pierre-Louis • Latria Graham • Dr. Lauret Savoy •Ira Wallace • Savi Horne • Dr. Claudia Ford • Dr. J. Drew Lanham • Dr. Leni Sorensen • Queen Quet • Toshi Reagon • Yeye Luisah Teish • Yonnette Fleming • Naima Penniman • Angelou Ezeilo • James Edward Mills • Teresa Baker • Pandora Thomas • Toi Scott • Aleya Fraser • Chris Bolden-Newsome • Dr. Joshua Bennett • B. Anderson • Chris Hill • Greg Watson • T. Morgan Dixon • Dr. Dorceta Taylor • Colette Pichon Battle • Dillon Bernard • Sharon Lavigne • Steve Curwood • and Babalawo Enroue Halfkenny
Leah Penniman (li/she/ya/elle) is a Black Kreyol farmer/peyizan, mother, soil nerd, author, food justice activist, and cofounder of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York. She has been farming for more than twenty-five years, holds an MA in Science Education and a BA in Environmental Science and International Development from Clark University, and is a member of clergy in West African Indigenous Orisa tradition. Her first book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land, is a love song for the land and her people.
In this uplifting compendium, Penniman (Farming While Black), cofounder of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, N.Y., brings together pieces linking racial justice with environmental stewardship. In interviews with 16 Black environmental activists—including Ifa priest Awise Agbaye Wande Abimbola and novelist Alice Walker—Penniman discusses acidifying oceans, environmental racism, and the unsustainable consumption of nonrenewable resources, while also touching on more positive considerations of the beauty of the natural world and what it means to live in “right relationship” with the Earth. Culinary historian Leni Sorensen notes that the legacy of chattel slavery complicates many Black Americans’ relationship with land, a theme Penniman takes up in her conversation with Greg Watson, director of policy at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics, about deepening Black involvement in agriculture through urban farming. The need for activism is highlighted throughout: Penniman emphasizes the importance of boosting the voices of young eco-warriors, while Aleya Fraser, cofounder of Black Dirt Farm in Maryland, opines on the “Afroecology” movement, which promotes kinship and living in harmony with nature. Soulful, spirited, and often joyful, this is sustained by a deep reverence for the Earth and its “symbiotic living ecosystems.” The result is a potent look at the overlap between the environmental and racial justice movements. -- Publishers Weekly
[H] Amistad Press / February 28, 2023
1.05" H x 9.0" L x 6.0" W (1.42 lbs) 352 pages