cover image Black Earth Wisdom: Soulful Conversations with Black Environmentalists

Black Earth Wisdom: Soulful Conversations with Black Environmentalists

Leah Penniman. Amistad, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-316089-7

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. (Feb.)