Urban Audubon Online


This article appears in the Spring 2021 issue of The Urban Audubon.

By the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Committee, in Collaboration with NYC Audubon Staff

This past year, our nation as a whole has been called to a reckoning with continuing racial injustice. Numerous assaults on Black Americans, including the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the racist confrontation borne by NYC Audubon Board Member Chris Cooper in the Central Park Ramble, spurred many to action. Black Lives Matter protests rightly demanded we do more to protect Black people, and to recognize and counter the racism in our midst.

NYC Audubon’s equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility committee has collaborated with our staff in compiling this selection of recommended resources focused on the experience of Black people in nature, and about the realities of racism in the birding and wider conservation communities. We’ve also included links to virtual environmentally themed communities created by and for people of color to foster connections across the globe. Though this list of resources is in no way comprehensive, we hope it will serve as a launching point for further learning and connection. Look for more recommended resources on related topics in future issues of The Urban Audubon.

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Several panel discussions, lectures, and video profiles with and by Black ornithologists and naturalists provide a powerful primer on the themes of racism and the environment.

Birding While Black: A Candid Conversation,” a panel convened by National Audubon, offers a gripping first-hand discussion of the racism experienced by Black birders, including Chris Cooper, birding guide and educator Jeffrey Ward, and ornithologist Corina Newsome.

Untold Stories of the Environmental Movement: Race, Power and Privilege,” a lecture by Dorceta E. Taylor, PhD, includes her experiences as an African-American woman teaching in the field of American conservation and provides an introduction to the powerful themes and history of injustice that her scholarship has documented.

On Being with J. Drew Lanham, PhD, is a conversation in which Dr. Lanham discusses his deep and complex connection to nature as a Black naturalist and scientist. (This animated short from StoryCorps, “Learning to Fly,” is also a beautiful portrayal of the roots of Dr. Lanham’s love of the natural world.)

Faces of Change with Corina Newsome profiles the biology graduate student and community engagement manager for Georgia Audubon as she discusses the importance of connecting communities of color with the environment.


These fundamental works are “required reading” for those interested in achieving a deeper understanding of the relationship between race and one’s experience of nature in the U.S.
The Rise of the American Conservation Movement by Dorceta E. Taylor, PhD
The Rise of the American Conservation Movement by Dorceta E. Taylor, PhD

The Rise of the American Conservation Movement: Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection

This scholarly but readable work by Dorceta E. Taylor, PhD, is a comprehensive history of the modern conservation movement, chronicling how it has been influenced by race, class, and gender—and came to carry the stamp of white privilege.
Black Faces, White Spaces by Carolyn Finney, PhD
Black Faces, White Spaces by Carolyn Finney, PhD

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

This groundbreaking book by Carolyn Finney, PhD, reveals how our country’s legacy of racial oppression and violence has shaped cultural understandings of the “great out- doors” and racialized our experience of nature and the environment.
The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature, by J. Drew Lanham, PhD
The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature, by J. Drew Lanham, PhD

The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature

This powerful account by South Carolina ornithologist J. Drew Lanham, PhD, explores the contradictions of finding joy and freedom in the same land to which Dr. Lanham's ancestors were tied by forced labor, and of being a Black man in the profoundly white field of ornithology.

Online Publications

This online listing includes some more focused research and discussion on various related themes.

Racial and Ethnic Differences in Connectedness to Nature and Landscape Preferences Among College Students by Dorceta E. Taylor, PhD

People of Color and Their Constraints to National Parks Visitation by David Scott, PhD, and KangJae Jerry Lee, PhD

The Nature Gap: Confronting Racial and Economic Disparities in the Destruction and Protection of Nature in America by Jenny Rowland-Shea, Sahir Doshi, Shanna Edberg, and Robert Fanger

How ‘Nature Deprived’ Neighborhoods Impact the Health of People of Color by Alejandra Borunda

Virtual Conservation/Outdoor Communities of Color

A rapidly growing number of online resources provide community and connection for people of color interested in nature and environmentalism.

pgmone.org (People of the Global Majority in the Outdoors, Nature, & Environment)


As a starting point for further reading on the broader fields of racism and anti-racism, we recommend this list compiled by anti-racism scholar and author Ibram X. Kendi, PhD, for The New York Times.