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This is Problematic!


May 30, 2024

Ornithology is defined as “a branch of zoology that concerns the study of birds.” The study, at least in America, is often tied to the amateur “father” of the study, John James Audubon. However, Audubon and many like him appropriated the knowledge of black and indigenous contributions and took the credit for themselves. Ornithology is filled with racist ideologies, with many slave-owners and/or white supremacists being rewarded with birds bearing their namesakes. Black naturalists may have been labeled as “amateur”, but their voices cannot remain silenced. Black Birder’s week is a celebration of black nature-lovers and a commitment to the larger cause of breaking the colonial ties to greenspaces where everyone should feel welcome and safe. Ms. Nicole Jackson- founder of N Her Nature LLC, nature enthusiast, park advocate, Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Education & Interpretation, and birder-joins us to relight the fire for what we all know is true; the outdoors are for everyone! 

 

Our Sources:

Audubon, John James. The Life of John James Audubon, the Naturalist. Edited by Lucy Green Bakewell Audubon. New York: G. P. Putman's sons, 1875. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Life_of_John_James_Audubon_the_Natur/TB2gs7v5se0C?hl=en&gbpv=0.

Ellison, Aaron M. et al. “Broadening the ecological mindset.” Ecological Applications, Vol. 31, no. 6, (September 2021): 1-3. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/27092162

Jacobs, Nancy J. “The Intimate Politics of Ornithology in Colonial Africa.” Cambridge University Press, Vol. 48, no. 3 (July 2006): 564-603. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3879437

Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “The Whiteness of Birds.”  liquid blackness, Vol 6, no.1 (April 2022): 120–137. https://read.dukeupress.edu/liquid-blackness/article/6/1/120/299559/The-Whiteness-of-Birds  

Mock, Jillian. “‘Black Birders Week’ Promotes Diversity and Takes on Racism in the Outdoors.” Audubon Magazine (June 1, 2020) https://www.audubon.org/news/black-birders-week-promotes-diversity-and-takes-racism-outdoors#:~:text=News-,'Black%20Birders%20Week'%20Promotes%20Diversity%20and%20Takes%20on%20Racism%20in,and%20studying%20the%20natural%20world.

Nobles, Gregory. “The Myth of John James Audubon.” Audubon Magazine (July 31, 2020) https://www.audubon.org/news/the-myth-john-james-audubon.  

Rhodes, Richard. John James Audubon: The Making of an American. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2006. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=4j2FDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=John+James+Audubon&ots=GTGU7cI5Pk&sig=I0nBHyu6npig6HN8B0skVIF6aBE#v=onepage&q=John%20James%20Audubon&f=false

Southern, Keiran. “80 bird species will be renamed ‘to break links with ‘slavery and racism’.” the website for the National African American Reparations Commission. The Times, published on November 02, 2023. accessed on April 11, 2024. https://reparationscomm.org/reparations-news/80-bird-species-will-be-renamed-to-break-links-with-slavery-and-racism/.

the National Audubon Society, “Audubon Statement on Incident in Central Park’s Ramble,” National Audubon Society, May 2020, https://www.audubon.org/news/audubon-statement-incident-central-parks-ramble

the National Audubon Society, “National Audubon Society Announces Decision to Retain Current Name,” National Audubon Society, March 2023, https://www.audubon.org/news/national-audubon-society-announces-decision-retain-current-name

 

Additional Links:

https://people.com/the-true-story-behind-christian-cooper-and-amy-cooper-s-central-park-birdwatching-incident-7510993

https://academic.oup.com/condor/article/125/1/duac047/7026134

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/349479882_Growing_a_Community_The_Inaugural_Blackbotanistsweek_Recap_and_Looking_Forward