WORDS BY ELIE GORDON
Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and our favorite lover is Mother Earth herself. The Frontline invites Atmos social editor Elie Gordon to write a love letter to the planet, as she shares the reality of being Black outdoors and how welcoming Mother Earth can be.
Dear Mother Earth,
Here’s to you, the first mother I knew. You’re where I was born, where I continue to grow, where I eat, and play, and love. I call you by a human name, but I know your nature is greater and more ancient than humankind. We are just one of the youngest of your many children—and maybe the most rebellious.
I’m an ever-curious mind seeking out meaning within things that can’t be explained by our little brains. I’ve settled on the notion that you create magic beyond the realms of science or philosophy.
As I’ve grown, I’ve found myself fortunate enough to enjoy your presence time and time again. Whiling away hours amongst your trees, along your rivers, and atop your peaks. I take solace in your warmth; you always welcome me with open arms to places some others of my kind do not. Through no fault of your own, your open fields have been fenced off and stamped with a false sense of ownership. For those lucky enough to take their first breaths and first steps far from the gray of towns and cities, your green pastures are home.
And for them, as for everyone, home is safety.
That sense of safety shifts with my presence. My skin too dark, my hair too unstraight. The lies they’ve been told over centuries seeping into their unconscious, making them fear our outward differences. A fear that intensifies toward those with skin tones even darker than mine. Eyes that can’t help but glance or stare from a place of discomfort. But still I continue loving you, not allowing their discomfort to keep me from you.
You are a source of hope. The kind of hope that’s necessary right now given what we’ve done to you. We’ve created systems to exploit. We’ve even given a name to your generous offerings: resources. We all get lost in ourselves sometimes—forgetting we’re forever connected to you. When we breathe your air, drink your water, use your herbs to heal us when we’re sick, we silently thank you.
My presence is the best gift I can give to you now—an awareness of you in every moment. And a promise to fight for you in every way I can.