Nature defined by racialization: A talk with Dr. Jennifer Roberts

The University of Connecticut welcomed Dr. Jennifer Roberts, an associate professor for the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland. Roberts discussed the relationship between race and nature in her talk, “We Are Each Other’s Harvest: Understanding the Racialization of Nature.”

She began the lecture by referencing a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks. The line that Roberts felt most connected to and used was, “We are each other’s harvest: We are each other’s business: We are each other’s magnitude and bond.” She then moved on to the topic of slavery, which is deeply connected to the relationship between African Americans and nature. Roberts states that enslaved Africans “were very connected and respectful of their land, as a newly enslaved person they had to alter their relationship to nature.” Yet even though they were in a strange land, they managed to know the land better than the white enslavers. “The enslaver saw nature as something to dominate,” Roberts commented.  Read more about JPB Fellow Jennifer Roberts’ research.