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Black Americans are reclaiming their relationship with nature

Two photos side by side.  On the left is a photo of Leah Penniman standing in a field of tall grass.  On the right is a photo of Dr. Dorceta Taylor with greenery in the background
Left: Jamel Mosely. Right: Dave Brenner, University of Michigan.
Farmer, activist and author Leah Penniman (left) told Disrupted that there is more to the relationship between Black people and the land than the trauma of slavery. "The history that we're not taught is that so many of the beautiful ways that we take care of land— organic farming itself... farm-to-table, co-ops, these come out of Black agrarian practices." Professor at Yale School of the Environment Dorceta Taylor (right) says reckoning with discrimination is critical to the environmental movement. "We want playgrounds for our children. We want to go to the beaches and not be shot and killed. But we also are looking at that systematic destruction of especially Black communities, Native communities with uranium."

This hour, we are taking a look at how race has impacted agriculture and the environmental movement. Leah Penniman, Co-Executive Director and Farm Director at Soul Fire Farm, talks about her book 'Black Earth Wisdom: Soulful Conversations with Black Environmentalists.' The discussion touches on everything from Leah's childhood to how the creation of some of the most prominent national parks in the U.S. is linked to the eugenics movement. And Dr. Dorceta Taylor, a professor at the Yale School of the Environment, explains what environmental justice is, and why we need to think about marginalized communities when we think about the environment.

For more information on Soul Fire Farm, you can visit their website.

You can read Dorceta Taylor's research on disparities in environmental grantmaking through ResearchGate.


This episode originally aired on April 26, 2023.

Disrupted is available as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, TuneIn, Listen Notes, or wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe and never miss an episode.

Kevin Chang Barnum is a producer for Connecticut Public Radio’s weekly show Disrupted. Kevin grew up in Connecticut and started his radio work at his graduate university’s radio station, KUCI. He has also worked for HRN, a network of food and beverage podcasts.
Wayne Edwards is a freelance producer at Connecticut Public contributing to multi-platform productions, including ‘Disrupted’, ‘Where Art Thou?’, and ‘Cutline in the Community’.

Dr. Khalilah L. Brown-Dean is an award-winning scholar at Wesleyan University, author, and host of 'Disrupted' on Connecticut Public.
Meg Dalton is the deputy director of storytelling for Connecticut Public where she provides editorial support for the station’s talk shows and podcasts, including the limited series 'In Absentia'.
Catie Talarski is Senior Director of Storytelling and Radio Programming at Connecticut Public.
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