Mistreatment of Humans and Land: The Causes of Our Ecologic Crisis

In Kathryn Yusoff’s first chapter of her book A Billion Black Anthropocene’s or None, she addresses geology as well as how racism in colonial times, has negatively impacted the Earth today; her primary argument is that black and brown peoples being treated as inhuman has resulted in the current population treating their environment inhumanely. However, to be frank, I feel as though I only understand the basics of Yusoff’s work despite reading and re-reading over sections multiple times.

Yusoff goes into deeper detail of justifying her claim by utilizing slavery of African Americans as a prime example of the mistreatment of “inhuman objects”. She iterates that the mistreatment and domination of an entire population through slavery has influenced others’ mindsets of believing that they are not only able to, but also encouraged to subjugate inanimate objects or other beings to whatever treatment they deem reasonable. Another example of this being when Christopher Columbus first discovered the Americas. Although it wasn’t African Americans being taken advantage of, he forcibly took control of the Native American population that he came upon due to him viewing them as weak and savage. As a result of this misguided mindset, he enslaved the natives and forced them to find and excavate gold, and when they didn’t fulfill their quota, he often severed off their hands as punishment. This act of extorting both the native peoples and the land supports Yusoff’s claim of geologic and racial issues being the stem of the current environmental deterioration attributable to the people in these examples possessing self-righteous mentalities.

This common mindset relates to the poor treatment and current ecological crisis by the past ill treatment of land while being colonized by the Americans. For example, during the 1800s, Americans killed millions of bison, nearly wiping out an entire species which would’ve severely damaged the ecosystem if preventive efforts hadn’t been made by President Roosevelt. This was largely the cause of hunting for sport, however this also occurred because of the creation of the Transcontinental Railroad. Both elements were committed purposefully and with full knowledge of what negative outcomes could come out of them emphasizing the selfish and tunnel-vision perspectives that the Americans had while trying to attain their goals.

All in all, Yusoff explains that geologic and racial factors in the past have negatively influenced the modern world. Hopefully, by bringing awareness to these possible contributions to the damaged environment we have today, people will be able to prevent any further damage from happening as well as possibly finding a way to reverse the current level of destruction.

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