With the coming of Martin Luther King Day this year we have a lot of thoughts swirling around. If you didn’t realize this yet, we are two white parents with 3 biological boys and 5 adopted kids. Our adopted kids cover a wide range of skin colors. Additionally, we have lived as a family in the Dominican Republic and Abby spent time growing up in Africa. These experiences in particular, combined with the current state of affairs in the US, have launched us into an anti-racist journey. Part of that journey connects to our love for the outdoors. We’ve been listening to, reading and learning about issues around black/brown faces in wild places and really want to be a part of that discussion. (Please know that we are on a journey. We haven’t arrived and don’t believe we ever will-it will be a lifelong journey. Have grace with us and know that our hearts are deeply for the children in our care.)So until recently I had no idea that many black/brown people didn’t feel comfortable in the outdoors and in particular, on public lands. I did realize that we didn’t often see them when we were hiking, biking, boating etc. I noticed how our kids stood out. In the unusual event that we would see a black person, their presence jumped out at us. I knew they weren’t out there but I didn’t really know why. That’s my white privilege. I don’t need to know or wonder about it. I have wondered about the reasons why. I made some assumptions which might be partly true. But then I ran across a few podcasts that really helped me to better understand the deeper reasons that many black people don’t feel comfortable in those spaces. I’ll share those resources in a minute. It’s important to us to engage in the conversation around black/brown faces in wild spaces because those are our kids. Even though we are white, we are shepherding people of color into adulthood in the US. We have to engage in this. We want our kids to grow up loving the outdoors and feeling comfortable being there. We want to be a part of removing the barriers that black people feel in regards to spending time in our public places. Being a part of change in this area is tricky. I’ve educated myself enough to know that I need to tread carefully here. I can’t work out of a “white savior” mentality. I have to acknowledge that I don’t have the answers. We are seeking ways to be a part of the solution instead of just morphing it into another ugly situation. On the other hand, we have some real skin in the game (no pun intended). Our kids, whom we love deeply, are people with black/brown skin. We need to be part of this movement. So, not a lot of answers here. We are just at the beginning. Mostly we wanted to invite other white people into a learning and growing process with us. We want to ask to be included in the conversation. We would hope to be able to use the skills we have in exploring the outdoors to make those spaces more welcoming and open to people of color. Here are a few resources we have been exploring in this area. Maybe they will help you on your anti-racist journey. Or maybe you are a person of color working for equity in this area and are willing to engage with us. Thanks for being here with us. Let’s make our public lands truly for each and every American.
First Name Basis Podcast https://firstnamebasis.libsyn.com/305-anti-racism-in-the-wild This podcast, First Name Basis, comes from Jasmine Bradshaw, a black woman who is graciously walking people through how to be on an antiracist journey.
Meat Eater Podcast https://www.themeateater.com/listen/meateater/ep-230-a-difficult-conversation -As weird as this may be, Steven Rinella of The MeatEater podcast speaks with Rue Mapp, the founder of Outdoor Afro (https://outdoorafro.com/about/), about their mission and purpose and why there is a need for a group like this.
Outdoor Afro https://outdoorafro.com/about/ -a group working to create safe spaces for black/brown people in the outdoors. We would love to see a chapter start up in Spokane! Can we partner with anyone on that??
The Black Outdoors https://www.theblackoutdoors.com/ another group working to make outdoor adventures accessible to POC.
Harley & Abby McAllister
Blogs That Inspire Us!