Every person in the United States has an equal right both in principle and in law. Clean drinking water, clean air, public parks and beaches, biodiversity, and open spaces are shared goods to everyone. And Nature is supposed to be a “great equalizer” whose services are free, universal, and accessible to all humans without discrimination.

But in reality, American society distributes nature’s benefits and the effects of its destruction and decline—unequally by race, income, and age.

Outside Interactive published a report alleging America’s historically racist policies have contributed to “the nature gap,” resulting in black Americans enjoying the “great outdoors” less.

Through the use of grants and advocacy work, the report’s author, Erin Key, is pushing for minorities to use their free time outdoors in nature. But there are no modern laws prohibiting non-whites from visiting public nature sites, Key fails to clarify.

Key wrote, explaining that her family lived through an era, “Though many don’t like to speak about it, so many of our living relatives experienced racism when it was legal — directly affecting how they interacted with society and how society interacted with them — all based on the color of their skin, when many Black Americans were taught not to do things outside of their community areas, in an effort to keep them ‘safe.’”

The Unpopular Black, Courtney Lancto claims that black people should spend time outdoors because it has health benefits.

Lanctot said, “One of the biggest reasons why I want to show Black folks nature and adventure is because it deeply heals, Nature taught me how to love myself deeper than I had known. Through its depths, I found mine. As Black people have historically had a lack of access to nature, we synonymously had a lack of access to our own healing. We have inherited trauma that still needs to be healed as a collective. Healing is part of our freedom.”

Constance Beverly, CEO of Share Winter, claims that a lack of interest in the outdoors is a myth.

Beverly explains, “Through grantmaking, resource gathering, collaboration, and advocacy, we work with the ski industry as well as grassroots organizations across the United States to provide low or no-cost programs for youth traditionally denied access to winter sports, We recognized years ago that a lack of participation from skiers and riders of diverse backgrounds had nothing to do with a lack of interest, but lack of access and opportunity. We strive to create a winter sports community where all youth, from every background, see themselves as skiers and riders; that they feel welcomed, included, and celebrated.”

According to American Hiking Organization:

American Hiking Society believes that the outdoors should be a place of healing and enjoyment for all. Our mission, ’empowering ALL to enjoy, share, and preserve the hiking experience’ will never be fulfilled until systemic racism is erased and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are safe and welcome outside, have equitable access to quality natural spaces, and equitable employment and leadership opportunities in the outdoor industry. We resolve, every day, to re-commit to doing what we can as American Hiking to root out racism in the outdoors.

We have a lot of work to do as an organization to further inform ourselves and we are constantly learning about how to be a better, more effective ally. We are educating ourselves and sharing some of the resources that we have found informative and that might help us all become more aware and prepared to be an effective ally in the outdoors. We also encourage you to follow and support organizations led by people of color on social media and are compiling a list of suggestions. Please note this is not an exhaustive list, we welcome additional suggestions, and we plan to continue to update this page. Entries are alphabetized by title.

Sources: TheGateWayPundit, AmericanProgress, Americanhiking

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