African Americans and Nature – 2 Books Explore Heritage and Presence

When most people think of the trailblazers of activities in the great outdoors, they may not think of African Americans. This misconception is not because there are not African Americans that love the outdoors, but because of an underrepresentation in the media. Throughout history, there have been many black pioneers that have been left out of stories. Because of racial discrimination and social injustice, many African Americans began to have limited access to the outdoors. It was after this time period that African Americans began to stray away from nature, and this continued throughout time until almost recently.

Recently, there have been many groups focused on getting African Americans back to their roots in nature. Many groups take those living in urban neighborhoods to outside neighborhoods to enjoy hiking, national parks, lakes, etc. There are also many groups that plant gardens inside of the city itself. There are also authors, like Carolyn Finney, who have made it their life’s work to study the history/timeline of African Americans and their involvement with nature.

Researchers like Finney are dedicated to stopping certain stigmas about minorities and their interaction with nature. Finney has written “Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors.” which is a manifestation of her research. “Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry.” is also a book written by Camille Dungy which is a collection of poetry about nature from African American authors. Listed below are two reviews of the books.

“Get Outdoors” Inspirational Reads

Black Faces, White Spaces by Carolyn Finney


Black Faces, White Spaces

In this work, Finney explores why there is such a large underrepresentation of an African American presence in outdoor recreation. Finney looks at history to determine why there has been a constructed stigma against minorities in nature. Finney’s argument begins all the way black to slavery and follows outdoor history through the Jim Crow laws and beyond. She uses a multitude of resources such as poetry, popular culture, history itself, and certain laws that have been put into place.






Black Nature , edited by Camille T. Dungy


Black Nature

Black Nature is one of the first works of literature that focuses on the outdoors through work by poets of African American descent. This is a very rare type of work because up until now, African Americans have not been heavily involved in writing distinctly about nature in such a concentrated body of work.


The book includes 180 poems that provide different perspectives from African Americans and their relationship with nature. Some of the major writers in the book include Philis Wheatley, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, Wanda Coleman, and Melvin B. The poems come from a variety of time periods such as the beginning of slavery, the reconstruction period, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Black Arts Movement.

Benefits of Hiking and Camping
If you need any more incentive to get outside by yourself or with your loved ones, here are some of the most popular benefits of hiking and camping. The list below contains just some of the health benefits that can be gained from hiking. Please note, in order to gain these benefits, hiking should be done for about 150 minutes per week, or about two and a half hours.

– Better cardio-respiratory health
– Better muscular fitness
– More control of metabolism and weight
– Less depression
– Better sleeping patterns
– A lower risk of bad cholesterol

Mental Health

Being outdoors goes beyond working out. Exposing yourself to nature means inviting inspiration to fill your brain, and even when you’re not alone the great outdoors will find a way to reach you. Get out more often you’ll not regret.

About The Author

 Aaron Sven assists the NinjaReady team source and evaluate emergency preparedness supplies and gear. He was somewhat forcefully thrown into the outdoors when his son asked to join the Cub Scouts, and since then Aaron has cultivated a deep relationship with nature that he loves to share with others.


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