Sierra is interested in understanding how to make green spaces (e.g., parks, lakes, community gardens) more accessible to black Americans. This work involves analyzing how green spaces are constructed as white spaces and the formal and informal mechanisms that prevent or facilitate nonwhite access to these spaces. Sierra finds the racialization of green space particularly interesting because much of the existing environmental justice literature focuses on the disproportionate burden of environmental hazards on communities of color. By contrast, Sierra’s research focuses on the creation and maintenance of privileged natural environments as white spaces. Green space is a crucial environmental amenity associated with positive mental and physical health outcomes. This topic is particularly important as the climate crisis continues to put environmental stress on all communities.
MORE ABOUT SIERRA
Sierra grew up in two households that exposed her to vastly different environments. Sierra’s mother lived in a white suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, and her father lived in a gentrifying black neighborhood in Charlotte, North Carolina. These experiences shaped Sierra’s curiosity about the racialization of space.