Nature Is Racist? ‘Systemic Racism’ Blocks Black People From Going Outdoors

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A report published by Outside Interactive alleged that America’s historically racist policies have contributed to “the nature gap,” resulting in black Americans having less enjoyment of the so-called “great outdoors.”

Erin Key, the report’s author, is pushing for minorities to use their free time outdoors in nature through the use of grants and advocacy work. She does not, however, mention that there are no modern laws prohibiting non-whites from visiting public nature sites.

“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,” Key wrote, explaining that her family lived through an era “when many Black Americans were taught not to do things outside of their community areas, in an effort to keep them ‘safe.’”

Courtney Lanctot of The Unpopular Black is pushing for black people to spend time outdoors, claiming that it has health benefits.

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“One of the biggest reasons why I want to show Black folks nature and adventure is because it deeply heals,” says Lanctot. “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.”

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

“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,” Beverly explains. “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.”

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