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Stories and Visions of Black Joy in the Outdoors by Rue Mapp

Review by Steve Giordano, Photos courtesy Nature Swagger
  Naturte Swagger book cover   Author Rue Mapp  
Cover of book Nature Swagger
Nature Swagger author Rue Mapp

Black people in nature is an idea whose time has come, if recent efforts and publications are any indication. The latest drive magazine from Subaru has an article titled Nature Is for Everybody that features Kasim Carter who introduces other Blacks to hiking. Carter is a volunteer leader with Outdoor Afro which works to connect Black people in nature.

Another organization with similar purpose, Together Outdoors, works to make the outdoors more accessible and welcoming for everyone.

Rue Mapp, the founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro (a leading force in the promotion of Black involvement and interaction with the outdoors), is author of the new book, Nature Swagger (Nov.1, $24.95). Filled with breathtaking photography, inspiring stories, profiles, and spotlights from prominent Black leaders in outdoor spaces, this book inspires Black communities to reclaim their place in the natural world. With more than 80% of Black Americans living in urban areas, revitalizing their connection with nature is more vital than ever.

Nature Swagger presents wonderful stories and photos by people detailing their connecting with nature and the joy it gives them.

  Black Kilimanjaro climbers   Grooup of Black hikers  
  Rae Wynn Grant with bear  

Rae Wynn-Grant is a large carnivore ecologist and a fellow with National Geographic Society; she is best known for her research on the human impact on the behavior of black bears in Montana. She is an advocate for women and people of color in the sciences.

She writes:
"With Mother Earth under my feet, and clear sky over my head, and living, breathing, vibrant wilderness all around me, I challenge myself to feel not defeated, but rather embraced. I challenge myself to accept that many animals don’t want to be found, and that scientific discovery can also occur in the absence of an animal.

Rae Wynn-Grant with bear

Angelou Ezeilo is a social entrepreneur and environmental activist. She is the founder of Greening Youth Foundation, an international nonprofit that was created to engage underrepresented youth and young adults while connecting them to the outdoors and careers in conservation. She currently lives in Atlanta with her husband.

She writes:
"... to preserve my own well-being, I need to recapture the carefree relationship I had with nature as a child.
"I want my joy back! Hiking . . .
Bird watching . . . Star gazing . . .
Jumping rope . . . Biking . . . Fishing . . .

"I am on a journey to reclaim the joyful relationship I have with nature. And I am starting right now."


Angelou Ezeilo

Angelou Ezeilo
    Elaine Lee    
Elaine Lee is the founder of Ugogurl.com, “resource central” for African American travelers and travel writers. She says, "Outside is calling my name.".

Rue Mapp says: "“Not everyone can access iconic Black havens in the outdoors, or have a family history of connecting to them, yet it is critical for everyone to have the opportunity to get away from it all, and it is why I have devoted my work to helping Black people experience healing, peace, and resilience in the restorative elements of nature.”

The photos below, from the book, show the joy that nature brings to people who get outside and go.

  Smiling hiking man   Woman catches big fish  
  Surfer   Surfer  
  Horseman   Horsewoman  
  Family in front of huge tree   Tree hugger  
  Kids playing on beach   Father and sons hiking  

"The African within all of us is just waiting for the opportunity to walk, discover, and explore again. Give her or him that moment of spirit, of grace, to awaken our bodies, minds, and souls to the joy of being Indigenous again, children again, exploring wild new worlds." From the Foreword by Shelton Johnson

Nature Swagger
Stories and Visions of Black Joy in the Outdoors
By Rue Mapp
ISBN: 9781797214290
7 1⁄4” x 9 1⁄4” • 192 pages • color photography • $24.95
Chronicle BooksAmazonBarnes & NobleBookshop

About the Author

  Web manager Steve Giordano, past president of the Society of American Travel Writers, is a veteran ski and travel journalist & photographer whose work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, books, radio and television and many places around the Internet. He's written numerous travel books. Steve is the designer and technologist of HighOnAdventure.com and was the online and guidebook editor of SkiSnowboard.com. He is a member of the North American Snowsports Journalists Association and can be reached at rsgiordano@gmail.com.   Steve Giordano