NBC News is once again facing mockery and derision — this time for running a piece about how some black people feel unsafe camping outdoors because of white people.
Written by Char Adams, a black woman, the piece talks about her first time camping while attending a Texas Survival School basic wilderness survival class that, incidentally, was primarily full of white participants.
“Throughout the experience … I kept thinking about how fun it would be to have other Black women in the course with me, or a similar course tailored to Black women,” Adams writes of her time camping.
“There is trauma related to being outdoors,” the founder of an organization working to provide safe spaces for Black people to enjoy outdoor activities says.
“There’s a lot of healing that we as a Black community must do.” https://t.co/pGFNa6gJQO
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 26, 2023
She goes on to write about Toyin Ajayi, a fellow black woman who during the COVID pandemic launched an evidently blacks-only camping group, Outdoorsy Black Women, because she needed “a space for black women like me.”
“There were a lot of black people looking for safe spaces to go camping and just experience the outdoors. People would go to campgrounds, and there would be Trump flags flying everywhere,” Ajayi told her.
According to Adams, the black people Ajayi spoke with “wanted to know where they could safely go camping without being harassed or discriminated against.”
“I wanted to build a safe space for that. I figured if I needed a space like that, there were other black women who probably needed that space too,” Ajayi said in her own words.
And that’s exactly what she’s done.
“Today, the Outdoorsy Black Women social network has 15 chapters across the country, a book club and even a coloring book. Black women meet to go on hikes together and participate in camping events like the organization’s annual Wine and Waterfalls retreat, where dozens of women join each year to camp and bond through everything from hikes to yoga sessions,” Adams notes.
Critics, however, were not too keen on these black women segregating themselves from everybody else just to avoid white people, nor on Adams and crew implying that there’s racism inherent in the outdoors.
“It takes a special breed of stupid to be traumatized by being outdoors. And It takes an even specialer breed of stupid to make something racist out of it,” one critic tweeted.
See more responses below:
Same irrational fear vibes as the people who wiped down their groceries and masked alone inside their cars. 100% emotion.
— Imperator Bacchus Navita Americanas (@FLOTFW) July 26, 2023
Isn’t there a word for when a person of a particular race only feels comfortable around other people of that same race? It’s right on the tip of my tongue.
— Jeremy E. Newman (@JerOHMee) July 26, 2023
Camping & hiking aren’t racist, they’re mostly about economics. My family couldn’t afford these things, or afford to get to where these things took place. I wouldn’t have “trauma” going out into nature, I’d simply lack experience or knowledge. Not everything is racial.
— Bleu Cheque (@VERBAL_CHANCLA) July 26, 2023
@NBCNews I have many Black friends who love the outdoors. They are not so weak and oppressed feeling that they can’t hike, fish, hunt, picnic, swim, etc., without feeling unsafe. Black people do not need safe places to enjoy the outdoors! What a race-baiting, asinine idea!
— lilymae (@rationalgranny) July 26, 2023
Why doesn’t this happen to us Jews? In 1940’s, 6/10 or more of us were killed, many after being forced outdoors in fields, forests, for years, or killed by horses, in pits, and drowned.
Meanwhile Israelis are like the world’s most avid hikers. And most Jews camp and stuff.
— Number 99 (@MmeBlackBalloon) July 27, 2023
In fairness to Adams, she does have some history backing her.
“Black people commonly saw ‘For Whites Only’ signs in national parks during the Jim Crow era. Even after national parks were officially desegregated in 1945, several parks resisted these changes,” she notes in her piece.
“Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, which had a ‘negro area’ and barred Black people from other parts of park, remained segregated until 1950. Black people made up just 6% of visitors to the country’s 424 national parks in 2018, according to the most recent data from the National Park Service,” she continues.
She also writes about Henri Rivers, the president of the National Brotherhood of Skiers. Growing up in New York, he was picked on for being the only black teen on his high school’s ski team.
“They called me all sorts of things. Jigaboo, jungle bunny, ask ‘What are you doing here?’ They probably said it initially to deter me from coming back, but it didn’t work,” he told Adams.
All this is real and definitely worth keeping in mind. But according to critics, it’s also important to remember that it’s no longer the 1950s, and Jim Crow has long been over …
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