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  • Jenica Barrett

Books about Environmental Racism, White Privilege, and Climate Justice

Updated: Feb 8, 2021

The very first thing you should know before reading this post is that I'm white. As a white person, I have the difficult task of unlearning the deeply rooted systemic oppression of Black people and the system of white supremacy in our country. Part of that process for me has been understanding how the environmental movement is intertwined with the movement for racial justice.


As an environmentalist, I am particularly aware that this movement has historically oppressed BIPOC voices and continues to do so today. It is therefore vital that we recognize that until there is racial and social justice, there will be no climate justice. In the books below you will learn about how people of color are more likely to live near landfills, more likely to be exposed to air pollution, more likely to live in lead filled homes, and more likely to feel the impacts of climate change than white folks.


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Get Uncomfortable with Discussing Race


A huge portion of the work I have done is beginning to have conversations about race. They have always been uncomfortable. But I know that feeling uncomfortable is the first step to having meaningful conversations with those white folks around me.


I am in no way an anti-racist expert. I am just simply a white, cisgendered, straight woman beginning to do some long overdue work on herself. Below I have compiled a list of books that address environmental racism, climate justice, white privilege, and racial justice that may help you do the same.


Although some of these books deal directly with the environment, some are simply about discussing race. We cannot separate our work to take care of and heal this planet with the need to heal our relationships with fellow human beings. If that makes you uneasy or you wish I had kept it "not political", then read these books. They will answer your questions way better than I ever could.


Check out other reading lists including Best Books about the Environment and the Ultimate List of Zero Waste Guide books!

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This post contains affiliate links where I earn a small commission on any purchases made.


Support Independent and Black-Owned Bookstores


For each title I have linked to the book on BookShop.org, a B-Corp company supporting independent bookstores across the U.S. which I am affiliate of. I cannot control where you purchase or borrow the book from, but I highly encourage you to NOT use Amazon and instead use an independent bookstore, library, or purchase it directly from the author themselves whenever possible. Where you spend your money matters!


BookShop.org is an alternative to Amazon that provides independent book stores across the U.S. a way to sell books online - you can also search for specific local bookstores and then all of the proceeds will be directed towards them! For a list of Black-owned bookstores, check out this list by the African American Literature Book Club. Purchase from the bookstore directly or look them up on BookShop.org to see if they are a partner.



Books about Environmental Racism, White Privilege, and Climate Justice


Although I would like to say that I have read all of the books on this list before, I have only gotten through the first three so far. The rest are on my list to listen to and come highly recommended!



2. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer





6. Confronting Environmental Racism: Voices From the Grassroots by Robert D. Bullard


7. If You Poison Us: Uranium and Native Americans by Peter H. Eichstaedt







13. The Yellow House: A Memoir by Sarah M. Broom


In addition to the above books, white folks especially may find it helpful to read books specifically about race and white privilege.


Have you read any of the books above on Environmental Racism?

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