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By Lornett Vestal December 7, Consider this data point: in any given year, less than half of African American adolescents age 13 to 17 will participate in even one outdoor recreation activity. In fact, surveys of racial minorities consistently show they are more concerned than whites about climate change and more supportive of policies to fix it.
So what is keeping people of color from participating in outdoor recreation and enjoying its benefits? Dialogue is the first step toward promoting true inclusion and diversity at a much deeper level. We must address the issue of race head on and understand that we live in a society that offers one group of people advantages based on the color of their skin, while systematically oppressing other groups.
Given that history, it becomes easier to understand why minorities may continue to feel unwelcome in the outdoors. Educating ourselves about environmental racism, or the disproportionate burden of pollution borne by people of color from poor urban blacks to Latino farmer workers, is also crucial. Outdoor sports can present daunting barriers to entry, in terms of Vestal gentlman seeking lady for races and skills. Options, like carpooling or sharing gear can go a long way toward reducing the costs of participation. To learn how to better do that, we turned to an unlikely source for advice: the United States Army.
In recent years, the military has made a concerted push to promote diversity and inclusion, despite ificant pushback from some conservative pundits. According to Dr. Michelle Baker. The solution? Strive to cultivate a diverse group of leaders within your organization.
For would-be participants from under-represented groups, seeing people like them in leadership roles will inspire confidence that this organization understands and welcomes them. For better or worse, the perception of outdoor recreation is tied up with the advertising used to sell outdoor gear.
When people see catalogs filled with images of overwhelmingly fit, young, white people, it sends a subconscious al that the outdoors is meant for people who look like that. As inclusive leaderswe can promote a sense of belonging and ownership through the imagery we project in marketing materials, on our websites and in the leaders we mentor and develop within our organizations. Putting pen to paper can help ensure progressive policies live on after turnover in leadership or membership.
Simply incorporating a social dimension in your outings can promote diversity. Organizing an optional group meal immediately after a whitewater run or crag session is a great way to structure a more inclusive outing. Sitting around a table together provides an opportunity to contribute for people who may have felt out of their comfort zone when dangling on top-rope, for example.
Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: I do not belong here. Building broad coalitions that are representative of the communities in which we live is critical to the success of any movement. The theory of change is simple and well-tested: people who hike, bike, climb, kayak or ski tend to make lifestyle choices and take political actions that promote conservation. People of color are already leaders in the fight to stop climate change. In this era of seemingly insurmountable ideological divisions, coming together as communities to experience nature is perhaps one of the most profound political statements we can make.
It may not even be a saving grace. I still count, and I will have my say. Matt Nichols is an environmental consultant, currently on contract to the U. This piece represents their shared views, not those of their respective employers.
By Jenny Binstock September 25, Help protect wildlife and wild places, ensure clean air and water for all, and fight for environmental justice. By clicking Remind Me, you will also receive periodic communications from the Sierra Club. You can unsubscribe at any time. Lower Barriers, Not Standards Outdoor sports can present daunting barriers to entry, in terms of equipment and skills. Codify the Commitment Putting pen to paper can help ensure progressive policies live on after turnover in leadership or membership.
Step Up, Step Back Simply incorporating a social dimension in your outings can promote diversity.
Everyone Outside Building broad coalitions that are representative of the communities in which we live is critical to the success of any movement. Southeastern Military and Veterans Coordinator. Up Next. up is Processing. Something went wrong. Please webmaster sierraclub. Thanks for ing with the 3. Address. Zip Code. By ing up, you are opting in to receive periodic communications from the Sierra Club.
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