Not enough minorities are visiting America’s national parks, and this is apparently a huge problem that we have to deal with as a country. This, according to a new ABC News report cleverly titled, “America’s Great White Outdoors,” the latest media piece to teach us how literally everything in the Western world is built by and for white people to the exclusion of people of color.
From ABC News:
New government data, shared first with ABC News, shows the country’s premier outdoor spaces — the 419 national parks — remain overwhelmingly white. Just 23 percent of visitors to the parks were people of color, the National Park Service found in its most recent 10-year survey; 77 percent were white. Minorities make up 42 percent of the U.S. population.
The U.S. Census Bureau projects people of color will be a majority in America by 2044 — a demographic shift that will impact park attendance and finances. Community advocates say physical and mental health for minority communities is also at risk.
Now, you may be thinking something along the lines of, “So people of color don’t like going to national parks…why can’t they have that preference?” But no, you need to check your privilege. Black people and Hispanics aren’t avoiding national parks because they’d rather do something else; they aren’t going because our parks are purposely built to be unfriendly and unwelcoming to minorities.
“The outdoors and public lands suffer from the same systemic racism that the rest of our society does,” explains Joel Pannell, associate director of the Sierra Club. “If we don’t address this, and we don’t see how all these things are interrelated, then we’re going to risk losing everything. You’re not going to have public lands to enjoy.”
Oh no. But why aren’t people of color going to the parks?
“Many advocates say public information about parks and outdoor activities are not tailored to communities of color,” ABC News tells us. “Posted signs, for example, are mostly in English rather than Spanish. Park ranger uniforms that resemble what is worn by law enforcement are intimidating to some immigrants and minorities in light of documented cases of profiling.”
Holy moly. The signs are in English? How thoughtless!
So if we change all the signs to Spanish and put the park rangers in clown outfits, will minorities flock to Yosemite?
If it seems like we’re not taking this very real, very important problem seriously, it’s only because we’re not. We’re not actually sure how anyone could be expected to.