The Outdoors and People. in America, outdoor fun and being White have been like best buds forever. They’ve even got terms like “adventure gap” or “nature gap” to talk about how few people of color are out there enjoying nature. It’s been a big deal lately, especially after all the talk during the racial justice protests in 2020.

The Stats

Check the numbers, and you’ll see it plain as day: White folks are way ahead in outdoor activities like fishing and hunting. Meanwhile, folks of color? They’re not showing up in those stats as much. Census data from 2016 backs it up – fewer people of color are hitting the parks compared to White folks. koin303

Why the Gap?

Some say it’s about money or cultural stuff, like saying “Black people don’t hike.” But KangJae “Jerry” Lee from North Carolina State University says there’s more to it than that. He’s all about digging into race and outdoor fun.

Going Back in Time

Lee says the roots of this gap go way, way back. Back when the Pilgrims first showed up, they weren’t exactly nature enthusiasts – they thought it was all wild and scary.

A Change of Heart

But fast forward to the 1800s, and rich White folks in the cities started seeing nature as this amazing, pure thing. Think of poets like Walt Whitman and writers like Henry David Thoreau – they were all about that outdoor life. koin303

The Race Factor

As more White folks got into nature, race got mixed up in it too. Some thought cities were gross and full of immigrants and people of color, while nature was seen as this pristine, White-only space, according to Lee.

Not So Green After All

And it wasn’t just regular folks – even big names in conservation were part of it. Gifford Pinchot, who ran the US Forest Service, was into eugenics, and Madison Grant, a big conservationist, thought Nordic folks were the best. They weren’t exactly rolling out the welcome mat for people of color.

Jim Crow Outdoors

When the National Park Service started in 1916, Jim Crow laws were still in place in the South. Even when parks officially let everyone in starting in 1945, local laws still kept Black folks out. They had to stick to their own “Negro areas” which weren’t exactly top-notch spots.

Times are Changing

So yeah, the outdoors haven’t always been welcoming to people of color, but things are looking up. With more talk about diversity and inclusion, there’s hope that everyone can enjoy the great outdoors, no matter their skin color.

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