Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And that is the only way forward.
I’m from a rural area in the northeast of Scotland, and I have spent my career working in conservation, environmental education, and countryside access across the UK, with the occasional diversion into nature tourism and outdoor recreation in the UK and Northern Europe. I write here about my interests in travel, the outdoors, expeditions at sea and on land, and connecting with nature.
I occupy space in this world that is exceedingly white. I do not have to fight for my place in these areas due to the colour of my skin.
While I like to think I am not racist, I’m a beneficiary of the structural racism that winds through our society like bindweed, and that through my silence in not it calling out when I see it, I am complicit. It is vital we, as white people, start to see what has long been evident to Black people, however uncomfortable it may feel in the process; it’s time to grasp the nettle.
To start, we must educate ourselves. By being better informed, we can find a way to see more of the landscape that surrounds us, and be better allies to people of colour. We can start to open outdoor spaces that were once and are still exclusionary, and amplify the voices of those that are underrepresented in our fields.
This is what I’ve been reading this month:
Racism and White Privilege
The long-form article by Reni Eddo-Lodge that forms the basis of her eye-opening book of the same name.
An old Guardian article which probed the slave-owning history of Britain, and the legacy of fortunes made from the labour of enslaved people and the compensation for their emancipation. It ties into a two-part BBC documentary Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners, which is still available to view on the iPlayer.
An online portal providing articles and resources to help prompt conversations about racial identity and racism.
An informative blog post by Eulanda and Omo of Hey, Dip Your Toes In! laying out ways in which we can learn from, support, and advocate for the Black people in our lives, and ensure others aren’t excluded from opportunities arising from our white privilege.
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.
Travel, Outdoors and Nature
Jini Reddy talks writing which views the world through a different prism, and shares some of the works that influenced her.
An action plan for increasing diversity in the US National Parks system, and wider outdoor industry, working through barriers to access and offering potential solutions.
A powerful piece by ornithologist J. Drew Langhan that explores how living in fear as a consequence of race impacts on freedom and the opportunity to pursue the things one loves.
Through the history of Yosemite National Park, Nneka M. Okona tells how Black presence in the outdoors has been attenuated through intergenerational trauma and cultural baggage.
Anthropologist Beth Collier gives perspective on the relationship Black and Asian people have with the natural spaces and rural settings in the UK.
The outdoors is not a space free from politics. Experienced hiker Amiththan Sebarajah writes eloquently on why viewing the outdoors as an escape from confronting reality is a mindset of privilege.
- Whiteness in the Outdoors
In this article Hop Hopkins tackles the legacy of white supremacy that impacts on working to resolve the global environmental crisis.
Leah Thomas introduces intersectional environmentalism and sparks a conversation on the need for anti-racism to be a cornerstone of climate and social justice.
This is just a beginning. I understand that it will not be quick or an easy process, and there will be times where I get it wrong, but it’s time to be idle no more. No lives matter until Black lives matter.