As we enter the spring season, we are graced with many things: warmer weather, longer daylight throughout the evening and the pleasure of enjoying the outdoors with loved ones. Though, for many years, we have heard the common misconception that Black people do not like the outdoors, this statement for many reasons has inadvertently deterred our people from engaging in outdoor activities. The lack of inclusivity for African Americans in outdoor settings has ultimately reinforced this stereotype for years when in fact, our Black communities are indeed, outside.
From hiking, biking and fishing to various other outdoor recreations, our Black communities are and have been reclaiming their passions for the outdoors, while helping others discover their own. Danielle Williams is the successful founder of Melanin Base Camp and creator of Diversify Outdoors. This is an organization that seeks to promote diversity in outdoor recreation states “People of color are already out here. We are already active in the outdoors, and a lot of the time our participation or leadership or involvement are not being acknowledged because we don’t fit the traditional narrative of the white outdoorsman,” (Dellinger, 2022). With the support and resources from a variety of different state and worldwide outdoor organizations, African Americans are beginning to explore life in nature.
With vast opportunities to learn about wildlife, outdoor activities including overall environmental education, African Americans have been able to gain essential life skills, while creating memorable experiences within their respective communities. The increase in Black representation in spaces that have not traditionally been inclusive to them has truly become a game changer, while also bringing attention to these upsetting representation gaps.
Have we ever questioned why our Black communities are stereotyped this way and underrepresented in outdoor spaces? Historical experiences against Black people, has shown us that access, safety and opportunity for outdoor activities and spaces is and has always been scarce for the African American population. “So much of the outdoors remains inaccessible to people of color, and particularly Black Americans due to historical injustices and systemic racism. Housing discrimination has pushed Black communities farther from nature and green spaces. A lack of generational wealth as well as job discrimination leads to income disparities that leave families of color with less disposable income and time to take vacations and explore the outdoors.” (Dellinger, 2022).
Though we may face many barriers as we explore the outdoors, it is crucial that we continue to strive to break them down, creating space even where none is given to us. So, as we begin the spring season, step outside! Get active, stay safe and bring someone along with you!