Racism and the Great White Outdoors

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“Outdoors is my church because it is where I feel alive, it is where I feel part of nature. For those who are religious, it's where I feel closest to God,” says outdoors enthusiast Jacqueline L. Scott. Photo courtesy of Jacqueline L. Scott.

Since the 19th century, the modern environmental and conservation movement has been dominated by white people: John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, and John James Audubon helped thrust the movement into public consciousness, but their notoriety also carries with it a legacy of racism and slavery. 

On this week’s Life Examined, host Jonathan Bastian talks with avid outdoor enthusiast Jaqueline L. Scott about how she fell in love with nature and birdwatching, and her efforts to make the outdoors a more welcoming and inviting space for Black people. We also hear from Yale environmental professor and historian Dorceta Taylor about the evolution of the environmental movement and how grassroots organizations, Indigenous communities, and other minorities are shaping the conversation around climate and environmental issues.



Andrea Brody