118: Racism + Social Justice in Conservation + Outdoor Recreation; Whitewashing Environmentalism; Unpaid Internships + Tokenism | Wanjiku “Wawa” Gatheru
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We’re joined by Wanjiku “Wawa” Gatheru, a brilliant environmental justice scholar passionate about empowering BIPOC communities! Wawa is a recent alumnus of the University of Connecticut, and a Rhodes scholar set to attend Oxford in the Fall to continue her intersectional environmental studies. She has had two recently published pieces shake the Internet: her piece in Vice titled “It’s Time for Environmental Studies to Own Up to Erasing Black People,” and in Glamour, “Want to be an Environmentalist? Start with Antiracism.”
Our conversation today covers a lot of ground, primarily stemming from this ideal of white environmentalism: we discuss racism + social justice in the conservation movement, and also in how BIPOC communities experience outdoor recreation; the whitewashing of environmental studies and histories; unpaid internships + tokenism, especially when it comes to making big nature-focused organizations into more diversity. Wawa speaks honestly about generational trauma and violence against Black folx, and criminalization still present today; this leads us to the topic of accessibility to the outdoors for non-white students. We close out the conversation discussing colorism and the role that self love and beauty standards play in the outdoor experience, particularly for black women… that deeper dive will come in a separate episode this upcoming Friday!
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