The "Black Forager" Went Viral For Sharing This Ancestral Practice

variety of mushrooms
L. Graciella Maiolatesi
December 21, 2021

Alexis Nelson, known as the “Black Forager,” is doing more than making fun videos of herself eating edible plants – she’s tapping into ancestral knowledge long erased by white supremacy! But what even is “foraging?”

“Foraging” is the hunting and gathering of food found in nature, an Afro-Indigenous practice that has existed for thousands of years. 

To supplement their meager diets, enslaved Africans utilized their ancestral wisdom as well as teachings from neighboring Indigenous people: they foraged to survive.

After emancipation, many newly freed Black people were unable to purchase land and returned to the fields as sharecroppers. But anti-Black laws made it illegal for people to forage on land they didn’t own. 

But that wasn’t all white supremacy did to separate our people from this ancestral practice.

Over time, white supremacy associated foraging with “being poor,” and generations of Black families distanced themselves from the practice out of shame. 

Additionally, for generations Black people have avoided being out in nature – it put them at risk of white violence like lynching.

Foraging reconnects us to ancestral knowledge and can be an affordable way to contribute to a healthy diet. Our ancestors knew what was up – we should lean on them as we move toward Black liberation!

Note: if done incorrectly, foraging can pose serious risks. Do your research and/or consult an expert if you are interested in learning the practice.

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