Subduing Nature, and People of Color | Sojourners

Subduing Nature, and People of Color

Race, class, and the theology of domination

Racism is a significant factor in how environmental issues are dealt with. The attitude Americans have toward people of color and people in developing countries often gets mixed in with whether we think a particular environmental problem is something that even ought to be addressed. It is rooted in the attitude that certain people are not valuable.

The view in the developed world often doesn't take the affected people into consideration. It starts with the questions, What is to our benefit? and, How are we impacted by whatever is happening somewhere?—rather than the question, How are the native people being impacted?

As Americans moved through history seeking to "subdueö nature and to have "dominion" over creatures deemed "lesser than human", white people often forgot that people of color were not included in whatever it was that God was giving human beings dominion over. It was forgotten, or maybe it was never learned, that using what one needs from the environment to help sustain life is very different than striving to control and dominate the environment.

The idea of dominion and domination of people of color has become quite the norm in many instances. Westerners historically have had the idea that, as a technologically advanced place, we can use any other place on the globe for our benefit. For instance, Europeans bring their waste and dispose of it in Gambia, out in the bush—and the people who live there have no idea what is going on. If people are not seen as valuable, then we don't have to value whatever environmental problems confront them as people.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine August 1994
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $3.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!