It’s February. It’s Black History Month.
Across the nation, programming in schools, museums and other organizations is zeroing in on the black experience in America, and lauding the hard-won social justice milestones of black men and women. This is crucial for America’s historical education because, for many, this is one of the only times we collectively recognize and celebrate the contributions of important figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman.
But our editorial team grappled with whether or not to pursue a Black History Month issue. After all, amplifying the experiences of all women is baked into The Marjorie’s mission.
Also, we’re attuned to the broader discussion about why having one month designated to black history might be problematic. There’s a lot to unpack here, but part of the argument is that in doing so, we risk isolating African American history as something “outside” of American history, potentially—if unintentionally—perpetuating the social divisions so many are working hard to rectify.
With that in mind, we recognize that the fight for civil rights and environmental justice is interconnected, and ongoing—we could overload you with illustrative links. We wanted to seize the moment to suss out this tension in Florida’s environment.
We’re glad we did.
This month’s issue, titled “Grief, Gratitude and Growth: Portraits of Black Women,” highlights the stories of women from a variety of contexts. A farmer and her father coming to terms with the stark realities of citrus greening. An environmental pioneer who fights to make public lands more inclusive. Historical figures who were the ultimate taskmasters, advocating for education reform, economic opportunity and basic civil rights for black communities.
In curating this month’s issue, several issues and points recurred in our reporting:
- Each of us carries biases, whether implicit or explicit, that need to be recognized, dissected, challenged and dismantled. We (all) still have stereotypes and deep-seated assumptions to explode.
- Environmental spaces have often been dictated and defined by whiteness, be they activist movements or resource access or outdoor recreation. If we want to successfully advocate for our public lands, our environment and the health of our state, we need everyone on board.
- Environmental organizations are not, in many cases, doing enough to further inclusivity and diversity. How can we change that?
We are humbled by, and grateful for, the opportunity to share these women’s stories for this month’s issue. They are inspirations for all of us as we work to make bigger waves in our spheres of influence.
Reporting for this month’s issue has opened up many more doors and connections of which we were previously unaware. With these new connections, we are better equipped to meet our goal of inclusion when reclaiming #FloridaWoman.