America's parks are a point of national pride, but we seem to have a tough time imagining anyone other than white Patagonia bros enjoying them. Black hikers, ecologists and bird watchers are excluded from the REI narrative, and can feel alienated while participating in leisure activities that their white counterparts take for granted.
Enter #BlackBirdersWeek, a direct response to the viral video from earlier this month in which a white woman, Amy Cooper, issued racist threats against Black bird watcher Christian Cooper in Central Park. Conceptualized by Black AF in STEM, a GroupMe of young Black scientists and science communicators, the weeklong Twitter and Instagram series aims to educate and celebrate. "Birding is overwhelmingly white," group founder Jason Ward, who hosts the YouTube series Birds of North America, tells PAPER. "And because of that, Black birders often feel left out, and unsafe. Black Birders Week is a way to get the message out that birding is for everyone."
LET THE #BlackInNature posts start pouring in!!!! DAY ONE of #BlackBirdersWeek and we’ve already seen some posts!!!… https://t.co/f3K7UiUZcv— BlackAFinSTEM (@BlackAFinSTEM)1590926014.0
Daily #BlackBirdersWeek challenges encourage Black nature lovers to share photos of themselves enjoying the outdoors and spotting rare wildlife. As we grieve for the losses of Black lives at the hands of police officers and demand justice across the country, these images are wholesome and soothing additions to the timeline. Today's #PostABird tag has created a stream of fun bird pics and facts, and tomorrow and Wednesday you can look out for a birding Q&A on Twitter as well as a livestream discussion about #BirdingWhileBlack. Friday June 5 will celebrate #BlackWomenWhoBird.
To be a minority member of a community that already has little public recognition can be lonely, but for Ward and many others birding is worth the effort. "Find other members of your flock, other Black nature enthusiasts, to help you through the obstacles you'll undoubtedly encounter as you chase your passions," he advises prospective birders of color. "All anyone needs as a beginner birder are eyes, ears and curiosity. Once you have those, you're well on your way, birds are everywhere, all it takes is a couple of steps outside to hear and see them."
His favorite bird? The peregrine falcon. "It's the fastest animal on earth, capable of reaching 240mph in a dive, and can be found on six of the seven continents." His white whale is the golden eagle — he's yet to spot one, despite "coming close several times."
ATTN: if you need an example of what it looks like for Black ppl to be excluded from birding/outdoor exploration, h… https://t.co/RNkZYE0Qf9— Corina Newsome (@Corina Newsome)1590988677.0
For those of us who are able to enjoy outdoor spaces without fearing anything other than bear attacks, there's further work to be done. "On an organizational level, it's not enough to say 'Our doors are always open,'" says Ward. "You have to be intentional and consistent in your attempts to achieve diversity and inclusion. One of the best ways to do this is by hiring people from communities of color." And whether you're inside or outside, speak up against racist acts. "As my friend and colleague Corina Newsome says, it isn't enough to just say you're not racist," Ward adds. "You need to be anti-racist."
#BlackBirdersWeek Day 2: #PostABird I’m sharing the first & most recent birds I’ve held. Can you ID these backyard… https://t.co/kEsJFgDhOD— Monique Pipkin (@Monique Pipkin)1591011948.0
#BlackBirdersWeek I've been birding since I was 7 (found out they were dinosaurs lol) and it changed my entire life… https://t.co/pkDgI00fEi— Liam B (@Liam B)1590943606.0
It’s #BlackBirdersWeek ! While I mainly focus in cellular and molecular biology, I’ve been obsessed with birds ever… https://t.co/NThGcAOEYD— Sagitterrorist (@Sagitterrorist)1590950836.0
The first bird I’m posting today for #BlackBirdersWeek is a bird that fell in love with the first time I saw it.… https://t.co/WSrxsgdfb4— Al_Troutman (@Al_Troutman)1591019161.0
Hey y’all I’m Alex and coincidentally my last name is Troutman and I’m a wildlife Biologist ! As a part of… https://t.co/UMWBs8nV0Q— Al_Troutman (@Al_Troutman)1590930994.0
This week is #BlackBirdersWeek ! It is an opportunity for us to showcase blk joy in nature, black birders, and blk… https://t.co/ZK5rTzrAA1— Baiyinah Abdullah (@Baiyinah Abdullah)1590937414.0
It's Day One of #BlackBirdersWeek! The first ever week dedicated to visibility, awareness, and dialogue. We're kick… https://t.co/Uusm8IqN9l— Lauren D. Pharr, M.Sc👩🏽🔬🦉 (@Lauren D. Pharr, M.Sc👩🏽🔬🦉)1590937550.0
Whether I’m out on a hike,in the wilderness doing fieldwork, or just chillin in the backyard I am #BlackinNature. O… https://t.co/teXnikLf3C— Earyn McGee, Lizard lassoer, MSc🦎 (@Earyn McGee, Lizard lassoer, MSc🦎)1590949579.0
Some pics from my time at Cornell lab O #PostABird #BlackBirdersWeek https://t.co/TauCuJPUzd— Bashir Ali (@Bashir Ali)1591022173.0
Kicking off #BlackBirdersWeek by celebrating #BlackInNature ! The outdoors belong to everyone. https://t.co/zB9gFNWIkk— Amber Wendler (@Amber Wendler)1590934121.0
Looking to show support for #BlackBirdersWeek? #PostABird and to spread some avian love! Imma bump some Egyptian B… https://t.co/DYNmm62V2E— Yara Haridy 💀 (@Yara Haridy 💀)1591020973.0
Excited for #BlackBirdersWeek! Here I am #BlackInNature in the beautiful wastelands of Antarctica searching for fos… https://t.co/jfJ8qvQyyq— Brian Atkinson (@Brian Atkinson)1590940725.0
It was once said to me that I go outside too much...I thought, what does going outside too much even mean?… https://t.co/9nGKSV1v4n— N. Fontaine (@N. Fontaine)1590923969.0
Hi, Ricky here, if you see a #blackbirder out in Nature, instead of turning around and walking the other way, maybe… https://t.co/j2yDFTTdZZ— Ricky L. Jones📸🦅🥃 (@Ricky L. Jones📸🦅🥃)1590936109.0
My #BlackInNature takes me back to my adventures with other dope #blackbirders. I love birding more because they lo… https://t.co/g7KOKf0WAy— Nicky J (@Nicky J)1590930339.0
I’m Jasmine, currently a PhD student studying parasite ecology. My mother gave me a love of nature, and my research… https://t.co/mYy7SU04AN— Jasmine Childress (@Jasmine Childress)1590938290.0
Today is the day yall! The first day of #BlackBirdersWeek!!! I'll be posting my photos today for #BlackInNature sta… https://t.co/Ef4DOi61ir— Give Breonna Taylor Justice (@Give Breonna Taylor Justice)1590937745.0
I'm #BlackInNature. It's become my duty to break boundaries and show the world that black people do everything you… https://t.co/RiRWtEq6qP— Outdoorsy Diva (@Outdoorsy Diva)1590935521.0
I grew up thinking I'd never spend a night outdoors. Now I speculate when I will get out into the field again. I've… https://t.co/9kGlBsgynb— Mushtaaq (@Mushtaaq)1590939830.0
#BlackBirdersWeek Starting my #BlackInNature tweets with some old field pics of the past from when I was doing wild… https://t.co/TYAdzRnZjP— Armand Cann, MSc (he/him) (@Armand Cann, MSc (he/him))1590943536.0
When I was 11 yrs old the parent of a white schoolmate said to me "Blacks don't swim or go camping because you can'… https://t.co/tUkmsZNBYt— Tamar Evangelestia-Dougherty (@Tamar Evangelestia-Dougherty)1590936206.0
#BlackInNature #BlackBirdersWeek Starting my day off with the birds https://t.co/7k0Xp5VLVV— TykeeJames✊🏾 (@TykeeJames✊🏾)1590929691.0
Photo via Twitter
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