Diversity in Hiking/Backpacking and Camping

Originally I wanted to give a list of the most diverse camping spots and hiking/backpacking trails. Unfortunately the stats are hard to find and inclusivity in outdoor spaces is actually a far more important topic than a list.

In the future, I pray that I can create a list for folks because I have been camping/backpacking/hiking in spaces where "we" are and places where "we" are not and trust me - there is a difference.


To be honest, I have very rarely been in an outdoor space where folks are not kinder than those walking the streets. I find that most of the time, the great outdoors brings out the best in people. I also leave as soon as my spirit gets a whiff of racist or negative energy. That said, since moving to the Atlanta area my experience hitting the trails has been phenomenal. The outdoor spaces are so diverse - I am NEVER the only person of color on trails. 


With diverse trails and DOPE outdoors organizations/social media pages/folks*, I thought it would be a piece of cake to find the most inclusive trails. 


*Organizations such as Outdoor Afro, Green 2.0, National African American RVer's Association, Diversify Outdoors, Black Girls Trekkin', National Park Foundation's African American Experience Fund are creating the space and the models for those of us interested in being outdoors. 


But after digging, the reality is that there aren't visible stats on the diversity of America's individual outdoor settings. In fact, while researching, it's clear that inclusivity on trails and camping grounds is an issue - folks of color don't feel safe and often times we are excluded.


One of my favorite articles on the subject is written by Latria Graham "We're Here. You Just Don't See Us."In the article, Graham discusses our history and current presence in nature. She includes statistics and her own familial story within the piece. The following paragraph so profoundly resonated with me and my experience: 


"According to KOA's 2017 North American Camping Report, 42 percent of African American campers say they feel more welcome in the outdoors compared with the past. Camping among Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians continues to increase, with nonwhites now totaling one-fourth of all campers—which is double what it was in 2012, the first year it was measured. We might not be in national parks, but we're at the lake, at private campgrounds close to home, and in state parks."

The same study said, "of the 1 million U.S. households that started camping in 2016, 4-in-10 were either Hispanic (13 percent of new campers, 16 percent of the population), African American (12 percent of new campers, 12 percent of the population) or Asian American (14 percent of new campers, 5 percent of the population)." 


The truth is that outdoors activities are not just life-changing; being outdoors is just as much good for your health as it is free stress-relief. Stress-relief is MUCH needed after a week of work, potential micro-aggressions, parenting, and simply life-stuff. It's a way that I, and folks like me, connect to God. And so we have to continue to create an outdoors community for people of color. 



Loved the pieces below! The writers created vivid pictures of experiences and feelings that people of color may experience while in the mountains:


"Bad things happen in the woods': the anxiety of hiking while black," The Guardian

"For people of color, hiking isn't always an escape," Reno Gazette Journal 

"Going It Alone," Outside 


To changing the outdoors narrative.


Shalom, my Friends,

Shelby




Edited by Ashley Yancey