Latino Outdoors and Outdoor Afro on KPFA
If you missed it, we were on the radio in the San Francisco Bay Area on the public radio station KPFA. Invited by the program Terra Verde, I joined Rue Mapp, founder of Outdoor Afro, to talk about diversity and inclusion with the outdoors.
The show is archived and you can listen to it here—which you should!
The program was a good way to illustrate the main points we communicate in our work on the need for more diversity in the outdoors, but also to point out the many ways in which diversity is already present—just not always recognized, acknowledged, or validated. It was also a good opportunity to see the similarities and common framework applicable to outreach and engagement with the many different communities with whom we work.
Some key points we wanted to stress were:
- Validate the variety and spectrum that communities already have with outdoor experiences. Latinos are already enjoying outside and outdoor experiences. African Americans are already connecting with a variety of outdoor experiences.
- Be careful in framing a “hierarchy” of outdoor experiences that devalues the experiences that communities already have (for example, a wilderness experience is not more valuable than nature in your neighborhood).
- Put the work to understand the cultural factors that can present barriers—or opportunities—to engage with the outdoors in the way you may assume are “normal”. There is a history of violence in the woods for many African American communities. Farmworkers may not want to engage with outdoor experiences that relate to much to the hard work they already do.
- It is not just about outreach, but engagement, understanding and positive risk-taking. Consider if you are thinking too much about “bringing them to my park or open space” versus “going to where they are” and “starting a conversation before putting forth an agenda”. It is about relationship building—and that takes time but you have to build the confianza.
- Highlighting work on diversity is not an act of exclusion, but rather a starting point of inclusion. We all have the goal of a diverse conservation movement. But before everyone can sit at that table it is important to recognize why some individuals face challenges to get to that table—and to validate experiences in getting to that table. Part of that is being able to see oneself in the wide array of outdoor experiences, the cultural norms, and the faces that are welcoming in those spaces. Latino Outdoors does not exist as an exclusion end goal for Latinos, but rather as an connecting point of inclusion to a broader goal of diversity and inclusion.
We certainly had much more to share and we discussed more points—this was only the start of a conversation. If you want to keep reading more thoughts on it, check out several other posts on the Latino Outdoors site and definitely head over to Outdoor Afro.