Green and diverse: The importance of integrating our public lands

Tamia Dame
Tamia Dame

BY TAMIA DAME

National parks, sustainability, social justice and inclusion: As a UNC Asheville student with a passion for studying these things, I felt compelled to attend the Spring Greenfest keynote address by authors Audrey and Frank Peterman. The Petermans delivered an insightful speech March 26 titled It’s Time to Break Race Barriers in the Great Outdoors, touching on the disproportionately small percentage of people of color who make up the overall national park visitor population, compared to the vast percentage of their white counterparts.

This trend is a topic of conversation among conservationists, environmentalists, environmental justice advocates and others. Despite those who know and care, finding solutions to this problem can be tough. Aware of this, Audrey and Frank offered advice on effective practices they’ve used in over 20 years working to diversify green spaces.

After their last child graduated, the Petermans decided to take a cross-country road trip to explore the protected lands of our country. They visited national parks across 12,000 miles and were astounded by the places they found, including the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and the Badlands.

“I had no idea there was this much beauty in the world; the entire landscape seemed untouched by human hands. I had an incredible transformative revelation at that point: I realized that the same entity that created that also made me, and it seemed if that was beautiful and perfect, then I must be beautiful and perfect too, and so must be everyone and everything else,” Audrey remarked.

Authors Audrey and Frank Peterman
RAISING THE ISSUE: Authors Audrey and Frank Peterman have traveled the country to bring attention to the disproportionately small percentage of people of color who make up the overall national park visitor population — and what steps can be taken to diversify public green spaces. The couple stopped in Asheville this spring to deliver the Spring Greenfest keynote address at UNC Asheville. Photo by Tamia Dame

There was one not-so-beautiful thing that Audrey and Frank became aware of by the end of their journey. “From coast to coast,” Audrey told the audience, “we saw a total of four black people.”

Following their journey, Audrey remembers sharing her excitement about these awe-inspiring landscapes with a friend, another person of color. “‘What? I have no idea what you’re talking about,’” her friend had remarked. “She really had no clue these places existed in our own country, and if I had been in her position just a few weeks earlier, I would have been equally nonplussed because I didn’t even know these places were out there.”

Audrey emphasized that recognizing the lack of information in the black community inspired them to “light a candle” and become pioneers in the movement to cultivate a population of outdoor enthusiasts that better represents U.S. demographics.

The words the Petermans had to offer hit close to home for me. As a woman of color with a love for Mother Earth, I, too, question the racial demographics I’ve observed in most outdoor spaces. My favorite outdoor activity is hiking the Appalachian Mountains, and similar to the Petermans, it’s rare for me to see another person of color along any given trail.

The typical outdoor enthusiast in my experience can be easily identified by hiking boots, name-brand outdoor apparel, a backpack full of gear and white skin. One exception I often see in national parks is people from around the globe who have traveled thousands of miles to see the mountains I grew up roaming. This eventually leaves me as usually the only American person of color I see on these public lands. If folks can travel from near and far corners of the world to explore here, why does it seem our own black and brown citizens are left out of the national park visitor population?

Embedded in everyday life are reminders of slavery and segregation, and many aspects are so well-hidden they’re tough to pinpoint. This is especially true for those on the outside looking in, namely white folks who struggle to understand why racial diversity and equity are so important. Segregation effectively taught people to believe there are designated “white-only” spaces. Today that manifests in the idea that dialect, behavior, locations, etc., can be described as exclusively white or black regardless of who participates.

For most of us, this incites a stream of consciousness in which we inadvertently segregate ourselves. In short, a culture that believes in “white-people things,” creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is plainly evident when it comes to population demographics of public lands and green spaces.

Environmentalism is notoriously known as a movement celebrated largely by white people. This is true despite the fact that nearly all natural disasters affect people of color at rates disproportionate to white people. One might ask if this trend over time may also have impact on how people of color think and feel about the natural world.

The National Park Service conducted comprehensive surveys in 2000 and 2008-09 to measure the racial and ethnic diversity of national park visitors. As far as respondents who could name a national park they visited in the previous two years, there was growth across the board. The black response increased from 13 percent to 28 percent but remained the lowest percentage reported. Black respondents were also more likely to report that national parks are too far away and accommodations are too expensive. Perhaps most shocking is the 56 percent of black respondents who claim that they simply have little knowledge of national parks.

While this disparity in national parks is evident, some still fail to understand the importance of diverse inclusion. Well-loved public lands are at stake, with some currently being considered as potential sites for mining and oil drilling. And with admission prices to popular national parks on the rise, we must emphasize that public lands are not a privilege meant for those who can afford them.

The majority alone cannot protect public lands; rather, we need a united community committed to protecting America’s greatest treasures. People of color must be engaged in the effort, and this begins with exposure and accessibility. People of color have the right to know about these lands and to be educated on policies that restrict their accessibility.

DuPont State Recreational Forest
THE GREAT OUTDOORS IS FOR EVERYONE: DuPont State Recreational Forest is among Western North Carolina’s treasures ― and people of color must be engaged in protecting this and other public lands, stresses essayist Tamia Dame. Photo by Dame

“The benefit of being able to look over the last 20 years is that we’ve seen progress happen, but not nearly at the rate it needs to,” Audrey offered. This is why it’s crucial to acknowledge those who foster change and spread the word of the work being done. Opportunities for people of color to engage in environmental efforts aren’t as rare as they seem.

The Petermans have contributed to the cause by initiating the Diverse Environmental Leaders National Speakers Bureau and the Atlanta-based nonprofit Keeping it Wild. Other programs include Latino Outdoors, Outdoor Afro, the Environmental Professionals of Color Network and hundreds more.

Local organization Asheville GreenWorks offers a Youth Environmental Leadership Program, a paid internship focused on advancing equity in the environmental field. This program provides high school and college age students with opportunities to gain outdoor skills and education, provide meaningful service work and obtain useful skills for future employment.

I’m personally thankful for Everybody’s Environment, a collaboration of environmental and community-based groups in WNC striving to foster equity, plus the Conservation Trust for North Carolina’s Diversity in Conservation Internship Program, for which I’ll be serving my second summer AmeriCorps term this year.

The public lands system unites American people beyond skin color: It taps into an innate sense of adventure and humility. Audrey and Frank Peterman are two wonderful leaders of change in the efforts to diversify these public lands.

Though the future of diverse green spaces may seem far away, there are people nationwide making connections and creating opportunities for progress daily. It’s our responsibility to support those people and organizations; research the cause, donate, volunteer, follow and share their social media pages, and reach out and let your representatives know that this work is important.

As Audrey states, “There is nothing in the way of our integrating the public lands system except for the desire and the commitment.”

Tamia Dame is an undergraduate student at UNC Asheville working toward her bachelor’s degree in environmental management and policy.

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65 thoughts on “Green and diverse: The importance of integrating our public lands

  1. Stan Hawkins

    “It’s rare for me to see another person of color on any given trail.”

    You have obviously put a lot of thought in to this article. I applaud your efforts, your ambition, and your desire to get people to enjoy the great outdoors. I wish you ultimate success.

    May I suggest however, that white is also a color. You may find you will have more success by including all colors or better yet, no colors in your tactics to draw attention to your ideals. By dividing people up into groups you will undoubtedly confuse some on your desired outcomes, possibly leading to unintended consequences for your goals.

    True beauty in the great outdoors does not discriminate, divide, or stereotype. The majesty of the great peaks, valleys, and rivers are there for all to enjoy. There are many volunteer groups that are hurting for people to join and help manage trails, stream health, and keep facilities in order for guests of parks and forest. The US Forest Service off Broadway near UNCA has information on how to get connected. This is a great way to see these awesome sites, and if economic issues are a concern, help with getting to the right place is available.

    Good luck in your project – – with respect, I encourage you to try something new and forget the colors.

      • Stan Hawkins

        Read your posted article. More power to this individual for completing something I have only dreamed of. A great job. The full article seems to portray a mixed bag of her experiences along the way, much like the fabric of America.

        Where I have a problem with injecting “color” into the process, this always seems to divide people rather than unite. Thus, the goal then becomes obscure, harder to achieve as does the motive of the original post. What am I supposed to do if I am one of the people colors she does not call a color? Should I feel guilt, and if so for how long?

        Perhaps there would be a more diverse representation of people hiking to town along the App Trail offered a ride, if in fact there were a more diverse representation of people hiking to town.

        Let’s say a poor “non people of color” kid grows up in Appalachia in the 1960’s where the mom and dad fight all the time, physical abuse is real, get divorced in the 1960’s (unheard of in WNC), becomes poorer, does not get the proper attention, and educational opportunities, no money for college, finds trouble with the law and so on. Now, should this kid as he try’s to make a course correction in life, say to himself – I am not good enough to hang with those college graduates or those professional types.? That would be a waste of my time, I would be too uncomfortable. They might not accept me or invite me to their table. And finally, should he look at the more fortunate with envy, inequity, and want with resentment as his constant thought process? And should this person label them with a name that helps bring them down in his mind? Would that really be a good way to live a life?

        Speaking from experience and the point being, the more one portrays themselves as a victim with an axe to grind, the more difficult it is to connect for those they say are indifferent to their needs. Common sense suggests these problems can be solved more effectively without interjecting labels and division into the process.

        • luther blissett

          I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here.

          There is a valid argument that the use of national/state parks and public wilderness exposes broad class divisions — as boatrocker notes downthread, there are tensions between more affluent recreational visitors and locals, magnified to the extent that the local economy relies upon outsiders. Money and whiteness is a shield: you don’t have to talk politics.

          But if a black hiker approaches a hostel in a rural town and sees the segregation flag flying, should that person make the effort to determine whether the proprietor is a white supremacist or simply has a warped sense of “southern heritage”? The symbols of division and prejudice are already present.

          • Stan Hawkins

            How about a third option to your last paragraph? Just because you or others perceive the confederate flag as a racist symbol, does not make it true that the owner of that flag flying is a racist. It may be true in the mind of one who has that perception. Just because you may think it to also be a warped act of southern heritage, does not make it true that it is so.

            But, what if the one flying the flag is doing so in remembrance of his or her great great grand daddy who spilled blood at Gettysburg? And, what if that same person, given the chance, would show ample hospitality?

            Surely it is true that there are those who use their perceptions to hold them back from holding their head up high and engaging with their fellow man.

            Surely, and to your point, it must be true that the one perceiving a position of fear has some good cause to think twice given history.

            Am I to believe that those not flying a confederate flag are NOT racist? Should I recommend that assumption to, as the original post calls, “people of color”?

            Which brings me to the point you needed some help with; the moment we start assuming labels based on the way someone looks, the clothes they wear, the flags they fly, how fat or thin their wallet is, and the color of their skin is the same moment we set ourselves back from achieving our full potential. Isn’t that one of the pillars of progressive ideology? Why does that ideology not apply to those you perceive are racist on the way they or their property is represented?

            So my point is stop the assumptions, stop the labeling, check your perceptions at the door (or trail head), forget about colors and just engage with your fellow man. Trust begets Trust. Distrust begets Distrust.

          • luther blissett

            “the moment we start assuming labels based on the way someone looks, the clothes they wear, the flags they fly, how fat or thin their wallet is, and the color of their skin is the same moment we set ourselves back from achieving our full potential.”

            Some of those things are not like the others…

  2. Don

    Thanks for putting together this piece….. I couldn’t agree more. I will say that when I see people of color out on the trails (which, as you say, isn’t very often unfortunately) I feel instantaneously more connected to them and more hopeful in general…. we need to see more of this and accessibility is definitely an issue no matter how uncomfortable it makes us to acknowledge this real issue.

  3. Lulz

    You don’t suppose a culture of blacks who equate anything like hiking or doing good in school associate it as being sell outs to whites is why these issues are around?

  4. boatrocker

    I wasn’t aware that anyone of any racial/ethnic group was actively being denied the enjoyment of
    making their own trail mix, carrying all their belongings on their back uphill, hiking around all day,
    sleeping outside, seeing awesome sights, getting blisters on their feet or having a squeezable jelly container leak all over your clothes before finding out your campfire stove won’t work while spending the night in a camp fire free area in them big bad old oppressive woods.

    Sorry, Mother Nature does not recognize privilege of any sort. Anyone can be eaten by a bear or die of exposure.
    Fabricted non-issue! (football whistle)
    15 yard penalty for setting back real progress!

    • Phillip Williams

      Wow – I actually agree with Mr. Rocker this time! There is nothing that prevents people of any race, religion, gender or ethnicity to go to any National, State or municipal park – and most of these sites do not charge any admission unless you are using a campground or accessing certain roads (ie. driving Skyline Drive in Virginia was 15 bucks per car last time we went there), or require permits for activities like boating, hunting, fishing, etc..

      I know scads of white folks who are paralyzed with either a terror of the outdoors – or by an apathetic disinterest towards anything that exists anywhere beyond their comfort zones. I have kinfolks who will not go near the woods and streams. Appalachian Trail thru hikers could probably apply for their own minority status.

      I think I understand some of the writer’s frustration with not encountering a greater racial diversity in public wilderness areas, but I do not see how this becomes a problem for the Park Service, or for white people. The parks and wilderness areas are there for all – but nobody can force everyone to enjoy them.

      • boatrocker

        Just riffing here:

        I am so offended that Marvel’s “Black Panther” did not include any
        empowered Native American/First Nation characters while being set in AFRICA.

        I am so offended that Robin Williams in “Dead Poets Society” did not include any
        female students in his classroom at an ALL BOYS boarding school.

        I am so offended that the original Star Wars movies did not include humans of a specific skin color in a FICTIONAL UNIVERSE WHERE THE MAJORITY OF CASTING FOR CHARACTERS OCCURED IN ENGLAND even though they featured a vast diaspora of species like Wookies, Rodians, Ithorians, Sullustians, Mon Calamari, Ugnaughts, whatever Yoda was, etc.

        I am so offended that 2004’s “Soul Plane” (hell yes I saw that movie!) did not feature any Laplander or indigenous Polynesian characters on a plane run by an AFRICAN AMERICAN AIRLINE based in the continental United States.

        I am so offended that “Dances With Wolves” did not feature any characters of Asian descent for taking place on the traditional hunting grounds of the LAKOTA SIOUX.

        Hey this is actually fun!
        I save my offense for special occasions. It is a finite resource to be doled out carefully.
        Much like a fight with a spouse, choose your battles.

        • Phillip Williams

          Well Hey, at least the old character actor, Iron Eyes Cody, who portrayed the crying Indian in that 1970’s public service commercial, was an Italian…..

      • Lulz

        Again, blacks rebel at anything that will label them white BY OTHER BLACKS. In many instances their names reflect it even though they have ZERO in common with any modern African. They seek to separate themselves from the perceived white culture and anything associated with it. There is no ingrained institutional racism in this country. But there is a deep seated mentality that if blacks do well in the TRADITIONAL sense that they’ll be labeled as sellouts by their own. That they allow themselves to be crippled for some sense of shame or guilt is beyond belief.

        • boatrocker

          If you refer to the ‘Uncle Tom’ or ‘crabs in a bucket’ mentality, I could see that.
          However, there are still plenty of cranky American crackers still alive who remember Jim Crow
          laws (ie institutional racism) and yearn for those days so, um… no.

          Institutional racism exists. Just examine recent efforts of gerrymandering, false claims of illegal votes
          and ahem, tweets.

        • luther blissett

          “There is no ingrained institutional racism in this country”

          is the convenient lie that white people tell themselves to pretend that they’re not the beneficiaries of institutional favoritism and they (or their parents and grandparents) earned it all themselves.

          • boatrocker

            Oh please with that smug.
            Whitewater boaters who carpool deal with the same thing as one has to hitchhike
            back up to the put-in as no the river does not run in a circle.
            Over the years I’ve seen the ‘whachoodoinupinheyah,boy?’ attitude in
            many rural areas though the sight of a guy wearing a life jacket walking on the side of the road does not scream ‘normal guy who lives here’. Regardless of color, gender, etc. Even Cherokee boaters get it.

            Believe it or not, James Dickey’s “Deliverance” (the novel, not the movie) explored
            the subtle passive/aggressive hatred by many isolated mountain dwellers of any
            ‘outsiders’. The casual reader/viewer will obsess with banjos and (ahem) that scene, but that book really speaks to anyone who enjoys the outdoors who mixes with locals in rural areas. There’s a reason James Dickey was the poet laureate of Georgia.

            No judgement, just pointing out the ever growing recreation industry (hiking/boating/biking) since the early ’70s has seen some odd moments between
            the ‘city slicker’ and someone who grew up in the holler who doesn’t see any good reason to take a boat down a river/hike/bike when you can just drive.

          • Phillip Williams

            Mr. Rocker, I’d say that much of the genuine “hatred” mountaineers have is reserved for folks who come in using pejorative terms like “cracker” and making comments about what all “needs” to change.

            I am reminded an exchange at a dentist’s office in Waynesville once, between the late Mr. James Roy Moody, former chair of the Business Department at Haywood Technical College and a gent from elsewhere.

            The out-of-towner was complaining about how “backward” everyone and everything was in the Mountains, and how slow service was everywhere, couldn’t get the Miami Herald at the local news stand, etc etc etc.

            James Roy, a rather flamboyant character who was never at a loss for words, listened politely until his name was called – rose gracefully, arched his eyebrows, smiled and said “Well. Delta’s ready when you are, darlin’!”

  5. boatrocker

    Please please Mr. Williams, cite any of my posts in terms of me claiming ‘what needs to change’.
    I will not be painted as a whiny transplant and I think there’s an old phrase in Cherokee about Delta
    airlines, minus the airline.
    Mere observations mine are. I would also invite you to read Mr. Dickey’s magnum opus of a novel and
    blow off steam by floating down a river on a nice spring day.

    • Phillip Williams

      Mr. Rocker, my apologies for not being more clear…..the “cracker” thing was absolutely directed right at you personally, but the bit about change was more generally directed at the several regulars who continually bang the same old misery-drum about local statues, historical sites, and such. I should have made a clear distinction.

      In any case, I thought you were an Ashevillian – or at least an old “settler” – whose presence here pre-dates 1978. Are you indeed a transplant?

      • Peter Robbins

        The mountain people I know can get ornery about statues and such, but “hatred”? I think not. They’ll simmer down after a few decades.

      • boatrocker

        Where I was born, raised, moved to and live is none of your bi’ness.
        My ideas and posts speak for me.

        • boatrocker

          Posting in righteous anger (always a bad thing to do),
          at least I reside within the Mtn X hard copy delivery route
          vs. outside agitators to have a dog in any fight vs.
          an AGEEEEEEHHHHHHNNNNDA.

        • Phillip Williams

          Beg your pardon – I thought that you had volunteered – or at least hinted – that you were either a native or a long-time resident – in a previous LTE (“Progress was happening 40 years ago” 4 June 2018)….If you prefer to remain a “person of mystery” that is indeed your business, and I wouldn’t suggest otherwise.

          • boatrocker

            “Person of mystery”- oooo I like that.
            How mysterious………………………………
            It beats “person of interest” as the po po might call someone.

      • Peter Robbins

        I don’t know how things are everywhere, but in the part of the mountains where I live we don’t think in terms of “locals” and “transplants.” As singer/songwriter/rascal Joe Penland reminds audiences at the start of his terrific shows, we have only two classes of people in Madison County: those who were born here and the rest who got here just as soon as they could.

        • boatrocker

          I’m betting that I have met you in person and sipped a cold one within arm’s reach for wielding up to 3 instruments onstage for making live music noise up in Madison County for where you live, and you didn’t act like a doofus then.

          Doofus is only an older to younger sibling thing.

          • Peter Robbins

            If that’s your recollection of the encounter, I’m guessing it was more than one cold one.

    • Phillip Williams

      And my anecdote about “Delta’s ready when you are” was from an actual, personal observation – as Mr. Moody and I both utilized the same dental practice. I was only 21 when this happened – James Roy’s perfect delivery and that Floridy-man’s expression were among the funniest things I’d heard or seen up to that time – honestly thought I’d injured myself laughing!

      • boatrocker

        Try a book, goofball.
        You can read it on your own time and choose
        your own salad dressing.
        S. E. Hinton’s
        ‘The Outsiders’ for an extended metaphor
        for this situation.
        6th graders get what some don’t.

        That whole thing about belonging to a clique or not…

        The LTE writer may or may not have read that novel but read it !

        • Phillip Williams

          There’s really no need to make with the name calling – ironic that you should mention 6th graders there. And I am a long way from my clique – and my mountains…

          And books – actually got 3 books going on at any given time – currently one by the bedside (“A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle), one in the bathroom (“If Rails Could Talk – Volume 4, Waynesville and Suncrest” by Ronald Sullivan) and one on tape in the car (“Sackett” by Louis L’amour – about the 5th time I’ve read it – I love westerns)……

        • Phillip Williams

          “Ye ain’t mad are ye, Jack?”
          (from “The Jack Tales” collected and retold by Richard Chase)

  6. Stan Hawkins

    You all have proved perfectly my point made above in the thread . “The moment we start with labels for the way people look, what they wear, where they are from, how fat or thin their wallet, the color of their skin, the flags they fly, their language skills, etc. , is the same moment we set ourselves back from achieving our full potential.” The original post, to be fair, had numerous label references.

    What ever happened to the liberal ideology of “don’t tread on me with your labels?”

    • Peter Robbins

      Depends on the label. If you’re studying heart disease and its causes, the label “overweight” has utility, even if it makes people uncomfortable to talk about it. So too if you’re studying racial disparities in the use of recreational resources, the label “people of color” has utility. I understood you to be arguing that it is illegitimate to even investigate racial disparities in the use of recreational resources (and the sociological/psychological/historical causes for those disparities) because we are all just one big human family and it makes some white people uncomfortable to speak in terms of race — a proposition to which I would attach the label “goofy.”

      • Stan Hawkins

        Well, as Disney’s Goofy would say, “gawrsh”; there you go with another label.

        Disney’s Goofy was occasionally known to be clever, intuitive, and had a touch of eccentricity in his manner. These characteristics were often obscured by a clumsy and dimwitted first glance. He was one of the most well dressed of Disney’s characters even wearing a Fedora. The original creator of Disney’s Goofy, Art Babbitt described the character, “ think of the Goof as a composite of the everlasting optimist.”

        The irony is that the progressive ideology claims to abhor the practice of using labels to single out a person, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, and sexual orientation to diminish that person’s worthiness or standing. The “Pareto Efficiency “ would suggest that is a reasonable way to live. Yet, when the purposes (let’s get people of color to the national parks) are deemed to the “idealog” to be sufficient, this ideology is thrown out the window. To be fair, many do not even realize they do this as they simply regurgitate what is fed to them by American and global media.

        Hence, it is the duplicity of the progressive idealogy that makes me uncomfortable, not the “whiteness of my skin.”

        • Peter Robbins

          And where, pray tell, did Tamia Dame use the term “people of color” to diminish anyone’s worthiness or standing? One can hardly practice social science without comparing groups in society at least once in a while.

          And by the way, I didn’t label you. I labeled your opinion. So as to disparage its worthiness and standing.

          • Stan Hawkins

            As can be seen in my ( the first reply post) to this article, I have no problem with the goals stated. We can all benefit by getting more people contributing to the care, concern, and upkeep of our great natural resources.

            I would add just a few things. First, in an article with the title, “Green and diverse: The importance of integrating our public lands”, the author uses the language “people of color” to exclude white people as a people of color. Now, I have never really thought about that much, but why would someone use that language to the exclusion (not inclusion – a progressive and common sense ideal) of white people? Isn’t white a color? Hence, one has a beef about inclusion, and their strategy is exclusion and duplicitous penmanship.

            Secondly, the author uses the following language, I have placed in quotes: “white counterparts”, “white skin”, “namely white folks”, “white-only”, “exclusively white”, “white-people things”, “white people”. “white people”. The author then uses the phrase “people of color” at least ten times “excluding” white as a color.

            So, Ahem – I think a reasonable person would say while the goal is worthy, that the progressive ideology and common sense ideal of “inclusion” and the lack thereof in this article is obvious and duplicitous rhetoric. I simply reject the notion that one can “holler” about inclusion out of one side of their mouth, and exclusion out of the other side while expecting “folks like me” to take them seriously.

            As Goofy might say. “gawrsh – that just don’t sound like a dog that is going to hunt to well.

          • Peter Robbins

            I’m tempted to ask what color the sky is in your world, but I wouldn’t want to privilege the visible spectrum in derogation of ultraviolet frequencies.

          • luther blissett

            “Now, I have never really thought about that much, but why would someone use that language to the exclusion (not inclusion – a progressive and common sense ideal) of white people? Isn’t white a color?”

            Why, indeed? Why might public buildings from the first half of the twentieth century have twice as many bathrooms as you’d expect? Why might Shenandoah National Park have designated “picnic areas for colored people” in 1937?

            https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/item/national-park-mystery-photo-31-revealed-lewis-mountain-negro-area-sign-exhibit-shenandoah

            If you’d prefer the term “people historically subject to institutional discrimination on account of skin color” then whatever floats your boat. But it feels more like you’re dodging that history and complaining that people who invoke it aren’t being inclusive towards you.

  7. boatrocker

    I’ll think about this thread on a hike this weekend.
    Being of mixed Olmec/Laplander/Antarctic/Outer Mongolian descent I will also be carrying the capsaican
    bear spray such that if anyone so much as frowns at me they’ll get theirs unless they hug me, knit me a p-hat and invite me to their house for a cookout.

    • Peter Robbins

      Relax. The days of “Antarctic only” fountains are over. Sure, there may be some post-traumatic effects on social attitudes. And sure, they may affect how safe you’re feel when isolated in the woods. And sure, those psychological scars of thought may affect resource-utilization rates. But who cares about your problems?

  8. Stan Hawkins

    Perhaps I need a full list of all the “present day” exceptions to the current progressive ideology of inclusion. Tricky business, this inclusion stuff.

    • Peter Robbins

      Uh-huh. So go ahead and explain how someone could write an article about racial disparities in the use of recreational resources without employing some sort of categories that distinguish by race. That would be tricky, I agree, but I’m sure a guy with your sensitivities about inclusiveness can come up with one.

    • Peter Robbins

      Or perhaps you’re trying to say that there exists some dubious “ideology of inclusion” that conflicts with the use of categories in social-science research, and you’re trying to poke fun at it. If so, you should explain the tenets of this curious ideology and identify by name its leading proponents, so that the rest of us can read up. I haven’t been able to locate anything like that in the real world (or even in the world of the worldwide web), but then my trail-blazing skills are not what they once were.

      • boatrocker

        Dude. Go hiking.
        Go paddling but not in a tourist raft.
        Get some exercise.

          • boatrocker

            Am I the only poster on this thread that actually got out there in ‘Natcha’
            this weekend to test the original assertion of this LTE?
            I hope not.

            Strangely I did not witness anything other than folks getting along, but I suppose LTEs happen.

          • Peter Robbins

            I’ll let you back at the adult table, boatrocker, but only on a probationary basis. What do you suppose the “original assertion” of the commentary (not letter to the editor) is? Quote the language where you find this assertion made.

        • Phillip Williams

          Well, I did go piddling about in the Lincoln National Forest on Saturday…..the overwhelming demographic represented both there and in every gas station, store and restaurant I visited was Hispanic – the lady who took my pic at the sign was obviously of Mexican descent and had a strong South of the Border accent – of course, that is a big slice of the population here because it used to be part of Mexico…

          There were a few white folks – mostly millennial hikers and ageing hippies here and there – and one guy who looked like Gabby Hayes owned a gun store in Cloudcroft…..https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10156364127109720&set=pcb.10156364130729720&type=3&theater

      • Stan Hawkins

        Well perhaps I am poking a little fun at some obvious contradictions, or at least the appearance of.

        For example, the author of this piece references a source, Audrey Peterman in which she attended a conference or presentation. A photo of her, and I believe her husband are shown in the original post. If I may, let me draw your attention to the website shown in the photo with the link just below here:

        http://delnsb.com/

        If you will indulge me for a bit; this site is the home page for “Diverse Environmental Leaders / National Speakers Bureau. Ms Peterman is referenced in a tweet on the home page, but that is not necessarily important. If you care to browse the site, may I suggest you click on Speakers, then Categories, and then a menu of Categories is shown. If you click on each of these Categories a photo of the speakers comes up with a short bio on each. I encourage you to do this on each Category.

        After completing this exercise, I encourage you to click on about and read about their mission statement and purpose. These folks appear to be very serious about their cause and that is good. What puzzles me however, for an entity to have a stated mission of “diversity and inclusion “, their members do not appear to be very diverse or practice much inclusion. I suppose I thought one of the pillars of inclusion was the concept of “being included.” A slight pun intended to add a little lightness to the issue.

    • luther blissett

      Keep beating that straw man some more and eventually you’ll have a pile of rags and straw.

  9. Peter Robbins

    Nice try, but I won’t indulge you one bit. The perceived problem here is that people of color are utilizing available recreational resources at a rate lower than other people, so one would expect people of color to be more interested in the problem and more committed to solving it. Big deal. Most of the members of the NCAAP are African American and most members of the Anti-Defamation League are Jewish. That doesn’t mean either organization is against inclusiveness as a public policy, does it? If you could show that the Diverse Environmental Leaders group has a history of rejecting qualified white applicants solely because they are white, you might have point about that particular organization. But all your research currently demonstrates is that, in one instance, people of color are taking more interest in the problems of people of color than other folks. Shocking.

    Now if you think the real problem is that white people are largely indifferent to the cause of diversity in the use of recreational resources and, accordingly, don’t participate much in the movement to change the status quo, then, like Tamia Dame, you should document the extent of the problem, identify possible sociological/psychological/historical reasons for it, and look for ways to address the situation. Of course, you’d have to use racial categories to do the research. Tough break.

    As luther blissett tried to tell you before, your problem is simply that you can’t tell apples from oranges — perhaps because you think it would offend a commitment to inclusive principles if you did not mix unrelated concepts together in one big kettle of boiling confusion. Have a nice weekend. I’d say we’re done here.

    • Stan Hawkins

      “Shazammm” Nice try as well. As you point out and with due deference it is fine and good to study all relevant issues. But, why don’t “people of color” simply get out doors and go hiking and take advantage of our resources brings us back to the present?

      It seems that promoting a “responsibility to feel pain” attitude along with institutionalizing victimology, has not achieved much of the parity or equity desired by all. What then must we do? Should we continue to study, promote the pain, promote victimology, and write endless articles depicting this pain? Why not just take a step forward and break with the past? After all, all great discoveries typically follow a break with the past or an old way of thinking.

      This noteworthy author has written much about this subject as well as others.
      https://www.manhattan-institute.org/pdf/_comm-still_losing.pdf.

      He can be found on You Tube as well and us quite controversial.

      Finally, and I am done, it is a generally accepted belief that when; let’s say an old grand-pa favors a grand-son with money, resources, excuses, and an attitude of being a victim of some wrong in his child hood as compared to other grand children, that the results are usually important. Quite often the child has not put forth his capacity of effort in many things resulting in low achievement results socially, economically, and intellectually. This pattern usually makes one vulnerable to the flames of society at the hands of the flame throwers.

      I believe McWhorter speaks about this much more eloquently than my skill level, so I will leave you with an invitation to think in terms of “what now” and peruse his writings. Thanks.

      • Peter Robbins

        The whole point of the commentary is to suggest answers to the question in your first paragraph.

      • Peter Robbins

        And, as you re-read the commentary, ask yourself whether the author is calling for (to use McWhorter’s term) “a profound and thoroughgoing psychological revolution among whites” or whether she is perhaps calling for a more modest psychological revolution amongst people of color, so as to break free from unconscious notions about “white people things” that can be traced to the legacy of slavery and segregation. Then ask yourself whether McWhorter could have written his own commentary without using racial categories to make his points intelligible. Finally, ask yourself whether you have said anything at all.

      • luther blissett

        “Why not just take a step forward and break with the past?”

        That you’re still writing this in response to an article that ends with the quote “[t]here is nothing in the way of our integrating the public lands system except for the desire and the commitment” suggests that volunteering and advocacy isn’t the break you want. What you seem to want is for people of color to just shut up about disparities and prejudice because it annoys you. That feels a lot like victimology.

  10. boatrocker

    Oh my garsh I’m so glad to be chained to my computer again talking to all my internetty
    friends and Mtn X ‘community’!

    I went hiking/camping down in Pisgah Forest this weekend and wore a ninja outfit that disguised every square inch of my lily white privileged flesh except for my eyes.
    I am proud to announce that I saw people of color in the woods! Like a family we would call ‘black’-
    a husband, a wife, 2 girls of maybe 4/5 yrs old as well as a family speaking Spanish to each other along the hiking trail. I saw the usual schleppy cracker types in WNC-approved North Face overpriced camping attire
    too.

    Here’s the best part! Not one Rebel flag was hoisted, not one cross was burned and somehow,
    yet somehow we all just nodded ‘hey’ and any male I met with little humanspawn I wished them a
    Happy Father’s Day and the original assertion of this article is BS and somehow we all got along!

    No, I didn’t dress like a ninja. That scares people as I am so cut and ripped.

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