Black Environmental Memory

Originally from Chicago, Rasheena Fountain is a multigenre writer and interdisciplinary educator whose work focuses on Black Environmental Memory. She tentatively defines Black Environmental Memory as the recollection landscape of Black people’s relationships to and interactions with the lands they construct, which includes the flora and fauna on lands and shared waters. Black environmental memory names sites and practices that are left out of mainstream environmental recollections in the United States.

As a published writer, she has interrogated systems she witnessed growing up and systemic issues that impact Black environmental relationships: friends and family suffering in mass incarceration, close-up views of police brutality on my cousins’ faces, and the criminalization of familial addiction in her community from the War on Drugs policies. Her essay  “A Difficult Trek with my Daughter,” published in Hobart Pulp, explores nature from a Black perspective, across geographical areas and landscapes, including urban areas in Chicago. Her pieces “A Black Hair Journey'' and “Grandma’s Kitchen” explore Black hair, colonization, The Great Migration, racism, assimilation, and more that brings in intersections of Blackness into environmental discourse. These essays and more are part of her current thesis project, a multi-genre memoir in essays, photos, and poems that she is finishing up as a MFA candidate at the University of Washington Seattle. 

Rasheena has partnered with mainstream environmental organizations like the National Resource Defense Council to highlight Black stories through writing profiles about Black environmental professionals; and has worked as a digital communications manager for the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars program alumni network where she supported young environmental professionals of color as they acclimated to the environmental field. In 2018, Fountain started an online project, Climate Conscious Collabs, in response to the need for more Black environmental relationships in the media. On this platform, she has done interviews with musicians participating in environmental discourse through hip hop, jazz, and more, which gained the attention of local and national media. This work has engaged a “nontraditional” environmental audience, as well as mainstream organizations like the North American Congress for Conservation Biology, which used her work during their annual conference in 2020. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a Master of Arts in Education from Antioch University Seattle, and is currently a second year MFA Prose Candidate at the University of Washington Seattle.