“‘I didn’t grow up with a disdain for free people of color, or for that area. But I grew up knowing that they wasn’t us.’”
This is a brief reflection on water, swamps, bayous, wetlands, and Black life in the United States, and the forms of freedom and racialized unfreedom that these ecologies have facilitated. Our ongoing collective project is to produce “deep maps” that center Black ecologies in the ways we think about the environment in and beyond the US South. Following water’s varied capacities—stagnant open pools, circuitous underground rivers, swift streams, or open ocean with its tides and currents—we draw together Tidewater Virginia and the Mississippi Delta, particularly New Orleans, to discover new possibilities of regional social and political affiliation outside of domination, extraction, and violence.