Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Jan French


When I was nine years old my dad often took me hiking at “Rosaryville State Park” in Maryland. Sometimes we would ride bikes, other times we would walk the trail and become mesmerized by the sounds and sights of nature. We would run down the path, play iSpy, or tell stories and sing songs. The trail led to an open field with acres of land in the distance. The only presence there was my dad, the trees, and me. We would take out our 7/11 sandwiches, sit on the ground, and enjoy our time together. It wasn't until I was in middle school that I found out how “taboo” this was. My Black friends at school didn’t hesitate to inform me that “Black people don’t go hiking.” My love for nature, despite my friends' admonishment, never diminished. I continued to love hiking, biking, learning about nature, water sports, playing in my grandma’s yard, and reading on the porch. I tell this story to illustrate that I have always considered myself a naturalist, environmentalist, or tree hugger1. It is engraved in who I am and has played an integral part in my identity. I went to a high school in South Carolina, where our deans’ motto was to “get out of your comfort zone." My high school prioritized nature in every subject and each grade level took an elaborate outdoors trip.2 It wasn’t until I began my undergraduate career, where I double majored in Environmental Studies and Anthropology, that I was plagued with the complexity of the intersection of being an African American woman who also cares deeply about our natural environment. I go into my work with my thesis having this perspective.