Black History Month Feature: Clifton Granby

Tara C. Trapani

In this Black History Month feature, we'll be highlighting the work of Clifton Granby, Associate Professor of Ethics, Philosophy, and Africana Studies at Yale Divinity School. His research interests include African-American religious and political thought, ethics, and environmental justice, and his teaching incorporates an interdisciplinary approach to the study of race and religion, ethics, social epistemology, and theories of freedom, power, and ignorance. He is currently working on two volumes: Epistemic Deference and the Politics of Race and Howard Thurman and the Ethics of Social Criticism and a monograph on “White Ecological Conscience and Black Geographic Imaginations.”

In Spring 2019, Granby was on a Yale panel at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta with the Forum's own Mary Evelyn Tucker titled “Beyond Despair and Denial: Facing Climate Change with Moral Urgency and Hope.” You can read about the event here and watch the recording below. 

From the Yale Divinity article on the event:
Granby, who teaches a course on environmental justice and ethics (among other courses), spoke about a constant “state of crisis … that makes and marks our contemporary moment.” Whether it’s a crisis narrowly averted or one looming in the future, whether it’s a crisis in the banking system or national defense or the health of our democracy, “this nagging sense of crisis makes it difficult for us to widen our moral sphere of concern beyond what is immediate, practical, and near,” Granby said. “All of this encourages not just denial of climate change but … acceptance of the terms of what those in power would tell us is most practical.” Granby called on the audience of Yale alumni, church members, and concerned members of the public to “tell different stories about ourselves, about the land, about what flourishing and community look like.” This, he said, “will require us to jettison our desires for sovereignty and dominion. We’ll also need to make room for lament. There are no easy solutions here, but there are more responsible and sensible ways to live. I take hope in that.”


Read his article from the Spring 2019 issue of Reflections on “Reckoning with Climate Denial.


And watch his 2020 talk on “Towards Ecological Community” at the Williams College Museum of Art, below: