Malik Rahim’s Black Radical Environmentalism

Aquapride, Lower Algiers Levee, New Orleans, 2016, by Jeff Whetstone.

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Malik Rahim’s Black Radical Environmentalism

by Joshua B. Guild
Southern Cultures, Vol. 27, No. 1: Human/Nature

“It would be easy to dismiss Rahim’s dream as tragically naïve or unrealistic. But the long history of Black struggle invites, even requires, this kind of fantastical imagining.”

In the sweltering summer of 2010, as thousands of barrels of crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that April gushed daily into the Gulf of Mexico, sixty-two-year-old Malik Rahim took an unusual course of action. He got on his bike. The New Orleans native and lifelong organizer announced his intention to cycle from southeast Louisiana to Washington, DC, “stopping at state capitals, universities and community centers along the way,” to call attention to the needs of Louisiana’s fragile coastline. Described in a press release as a “novice cyclist but a veteran activist,” Rahim planned to complete his journey in just over two months, inviting “all interested parties to join him on his ride, particularly those with the Green Party and other environmental affiliations.” “Now more than ever, our wetlands need to be rebuilt,” Rahim declared. “We need help!”