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Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors
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Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  68 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
Why are African Americans so underrepresented when it comes to interest in nature, outdoor recreation, and environmentalism? In this thought-provoking study, Carolyn Finney looks beyond the discourse of the environmental justice movement to examine how the natural environment has been understood, commodified, and represented by both white and black Americans. Bridging the ...more
Paperback, 194 pages
Published June 1st 2014 by University of North Carolina Press (first published May 12th 2014)
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Dec 12, 2015 Ken-ichi rated it liked it
This book didn't do much for me, but I am probably not in a position to judge it fairly. Maybe it was the extremely academic style of writing, or the qualitative methods, but I didn't come away from it feeling like I'd gained much novel insight into why black Americans are disproportionately absent from the outdoors and conversations about its preservation. There's a lot of stuff that seemed pretty clear to me (lynch mobs often hung black people from trees in forests, black people are rarely ...more
Tessa Farbstein
Jul 11, 2015 Tessa Farbstein rated it it was amazing
I cannot emphasize the importance of this book enough. If you love spending your time outdoors, and enjoy the privileges of exploring our National Parks, this book is a crucial. It is about the role that slavery and the oppression of American Indians, Chinese, and other nonwhite peoples that have been marginalized by systematic racism, and their lack of welcomed participation into the outdoors. I recommend this to everyone, but specifically my friends and loved ones who work with NPS, and those ...more
Erin Langley
Nov 01, 2016 Erin Langley rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this. Carolyn Finney is lovely and she toes the line between academic and popular in this work, which made it an enjoyable and informative read.
Dec 04, 2015 Aqiyla rated it really liked it
Pretty academic read, where I felt like it would be a book assigned to me in one of my old college AFAM, cultural anthropology, or environmental studies courses. But it was a short read and very insightful with a detailed examination of the social, cultural, & historical connections we African Americans have with our environment. I could relate to alot that was being expressed in each chapter. It was disappointing to learn that there's still an all time low in diversity of people of color ...more
Finney provides a succinct, yet thoughtful and relatively comprehensive examination of the historical and contemporary relationship of African Americans to the environment. She states that "my goal in this book is to draw together key concepts and frameworks from several theoretical perspectives in order to understand and explain the intersections of racialization, representation, identity, and their subsequent impacts on African American environment relationships." One anecdote in the book that ...more
Feb 03, 2016 Daniella rated it it was amazing
Finney provides a really good in-depth analysis of the experience of African Americans in protected spaces such as national parks and in the outdoor activities involved with such spaces. This can be extrapolated to other underrepresented groups except that the history is different. It makes me curious then about the specific history of Latinos, for example. The author outlines really well in her later chapters the myriad of reasons such as media representation or lack of a push on the part of ...more
May 30, 2016 Allison rated it it was amazing
An absolutely phenomenal and highly educational text. So much of African American history and struggle is swept under the rug in this society and we (those who have not expierenced the struggle either directly or through our family history) find ourselves with no consciousness because we have been starved of context. This really is a must read- especially for those of us in the energy and environment sector.
Jan 26, 2016 Ellen rated it liked it
Shelves: forestry-nature
While definitely an important topic, it was not particularly readable. (Very dissertation-like.) I'm not sure that Carolyn Finney met the aim of the subtitle...but then again the onus is on us to diversify our organizations and publications and to invite and welcome the participation of African Americans in the creation, design, and redesign of parks and the environmental movement.
Nov 06, 2015 Kathryn rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
If I was in charge of things, everybody involved in conservation, parks, or natural resources would be required to read this book.

I am not in charge of things, so instead I will just tell you to read this book voluntarily. It's pretty dense in places, but it's so worth it.
well, i'm a fan of any critique of the NPS that invokes bell hooks. i think i'd expected a more literary work, rather than a kind of dry academic account of Finney's studies, but the histories, ideas and critiques she presents are important and definitely worth reading.
Feb 26, 2016 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Well written book to consider as to why the outdoors is off putting to groups of people and individual. Reasons, data and suggestions as to how to change this and make it better. A Good Read.
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