It’s not rocket science. A person of color has just as much right to go birding as anyone else.
A different post today in light of this particularly horrible time for Black Americans. While vastly more Black Americans are dying from Covid (broadly due to the many tentacles of institutionalized racism), they’re also being murdered by White civilians and police officers. This, of course, is an enraging “par for the course.” I’m speaking of the U. S. in particular, but I’m not letting Canada off the “institutionalized racism” hook here (we have our own brand, largely centered on Indigenous peoples).
Even the seemingly innocuous pastime of birding is infected with racism. This is not new. But it’s new that it’s mainstream news. A Black birder named Christian Cooper recently experienced some particularly horrible racism in Central Park, NY. Following the recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery in GA, and now George Floyd in MN, when I first heard about this Black birder in New York, I feared the worst. Yeah, I actually worried that he had been killed because I heard something happened involving a Black person in the U.S. That’s a shitty default setting, but I imagine you have the same one. Fortunately, he is fine. And he’s reported that he’s back out birding.
Just a few of the many articles covering this incident and its aftermath:
–“The Realities of Being a Black Birdwatcher” (CNN)
–“The Bird Watcher, That Incident and His Feelings on the Woman’s Fate” (NYT)
Christian Cooper’s words on public spaces:
“I’m just not 100% sure people of color understand how public land works. It does not belong to white people. Never has, never will. It belongs to the citizens of the United States of America. So if you want to go to Joshua Tree, if you want to go to a forest in North Carolina, you totally have a right to do that, and you should not let anyone deter you from doing those kinds of things.”
If you’re White, like me, I hope you’ll also be interested in these articles on how to be an anti-racist “accomplice.” We can all do better!
–“I’m White and I’m Outraged by Ahmaud Arbery’s Murder. Now What?”
Please also check out the recent post about wrote about racism, diversity, and inclusion in birding, written by our local RBA coordinator, great birder, friend of mine, and person of colour . Thanks, Mel!
“We should be out here. The birds belong to all of us… The birds don’t care what color you are.” – Christian Cooper