This is fun!
One place you can pretty reliably not find black folks is in the great outdoors. Some folks are trying to change that…
BTW – BTx3’s Outdoor adventures this year are kayaking fishing, and at least one night camping on an ocean beach.
A conversation with Teresa Baker, founder of Hike Like a Girl.
TrailPosse is a series produced in partnership with The Trail Posse focused on the relationship between people of color and Western public lands.
During the past three years, Teresa Baker of Martinez, Calif., has organized some of the most significant events in the movement to diversify and improve inclusion in the outdoors: The African American National Parks Event, the Buffalo Soldiers Trail Retracing, the Muir Campfire Discussion on Relevancy and Inclusion in Outdoor Organizations, and the convening on Relevancy and Inclusion in Outdoor Organizations.
Her latest brainchild, Hike Like a Girl, a campaign to encourage females to take to the trails, solo or in groups, took place on May 14. The event followed a familiar formula: Working with partner organizations, Baker encourages people to engage in outdoor activities on a certain day (or days), then record, post and hashtag on social media to raise further awareness.
Recently featured as one of Patagonia’s Women Active Activists, Baker is a former high-school point guard and former trip leader for Outdoor Afro, a national network that uses meetups and education to encourage African Americans to get outside. She’s evolved into a one-woman force of nature. She says her mother didn’t like her “being defiant and going against the grain as a girl,” but adds, “My dad told me daily, that I could not back down to anyone or I would do it for the rest of my life. So he encouraged me to speak up and not be afraid to live my true life.” HCNcontributing editor Glenn Nelson recently caught up with Baker.
High Country News Most people of color don’t have a background in the outdoors growing up, but that wasn’t the case with you, was it?
Teresa Baker I was the only girl in a family of eight boys and was determined not to be outdone by anything my brothers did. So when they went hiking, I went hiking; when they played basketball, I played basketball. When they and the other guys in the neighborhood would talk trash about how girls weren’t capable of keeping up with guys, I’d prove them wrong. That’s where my love of the outdoors began. We lived directly across from a city park, so every day we were outdoors with other neighborhood kids, playing every sport imaginable, but my favorite by far was hiking.
I was part of an after-school program where we would go hiking in Tilden Park almost every week. We would also visit a ranch that belonged to the owners of the program. There we learned how to care for animals and the land. We would ride horses and hike the surrounding area. I absolutely loved it and to this day reminisce on how at peace I felt out on this ranch.
In 1978 my mother made me join the Girl’s Club, which I fought tooth and nail. I didn’t want to be around a bunch of girls who would probably not embrace my love of the outdoors. I was only partially right. In the summer of 1979, we went to Yosemite National Park for my first official camping trip. That was it for me; I fell in love with Yosemite and have remained so to this very day.
HCN What inspired you to start the African American National Park Event?
Baker I take off for Yosemite at the drop of a dime, no long-term planning needed. On one of my Yosemite visits in 2012, I started to take notice of how many African Americans I encountered. At the end of my second day in the park, I had not seen one other African American. I started to research people of color in our national parks – not just in visitation, but in the makeup of the National Park Service. The lack of diversity was surprising because I had never really paid much attention to it. The next year, I created an event to encourage African American communities across the country to get outdoors in a national park site during the month of June. The larger concern is that if we don’t start creating welcoming environments in the outdoors for people of color, in 20 years when the majority demographic in this country is black and brown faces, no one will be around to care about these open spaces. That’s the urgency of this issue.
The involvement I have now with the outdoors wasn’t planned. I simply wanted to create an event to get people of color outdoors. That turned in to talking engagements and written article after article about the lack of diversity in our national parks. That’s how I ended up doing this work, I feel it is my calling. It’s certainly my passion. And connecting with others who are just as passionate about this work has been an honor. I’m committed to the challenges that are ahead of me and will work diligently to bring about a change that will last beyond my lifetime.
HCN The Buffalo Soldiers are important to the history of both African Americans and the National Park Service because, as all-black troops in the 9th Cavalry Regiment and 24th Infantry, they were among the nation’s first park rangers, patrolling Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in 1899, 1903 and 1904. Their commanding officer, Capt. Charles Young, was the first African American park superintendent, at Sequoia in 1903. What led you to retracing the Buffalo Soldiers’ route from the Presidio, where they once were garrisoned, to Yosemite?
Baker After several visits to the Presidio of San Francisco, I started to learn about the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers. I read about their participation in the military and how they were actually stationed right here in the Bay Area. Then I saw a documentary about Yosemite ranger Shelton Johnson and how he portrayed Buffalo Soldiers in the High Sierras. This was life-changing for me. Here I am, in love with Yosemite and concerned with the lack of African Americans in our national parks, then one day I find out the very first rangers in our national parks were African Americans. I was beside myself with pride and curiosity. In 2013, as an Outdoor Afro leader, I went to the Presidio and asked the park service if they would work with me on putting together a program to honor the Buffalo Soldiers at the Presidio. They agreed and my commitment to telling their story began….Read the Rest Here…
Happy darkie slaves working for Massa…Seems back in the “Good Old Days”, white Republicans loved putting black folks on the money when they were slaves.
Now that black folks are free…Not so much.
Black people don’t exist! Yup – He says it right about the 8:50 mark.
Trump had to get a discount rate on this clown.
Looks like Bernie is stealing Hillary’s thunder with black folks…
The future of American democracy depends on our response to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. And that legacy is not just about defending civil rights; it’s also about fighting to fix our rigged economy, which yields grotesque wealth inequality; our narcissistic culture, which unleashes obscene greed; our market-driven media, which thrives on xenophobic entertainment; and our militaristic prowess, which promotes hawkish policies around the world. The fundamental aim of black voters—and any voters with a deep moral concern for our public interest and common good—should be to put a smile on Martin’s face from the grave.
The conventional wisdom holds that, in the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton is the candidate who will win over African-American voters—that her rival, Bernie Sanders, performed well in Iowa and won New Hampshire on account of those states’ disproportionate whiteness, and that Clinton’s odds are better in the upcoming contests in South Carolina and Nevada, two highly diverse states.
But in fact, when it comes to advancing Dr. King’s legacy, a vote for Clinton not only falls far short of the mark; it prevents us from giving new life to King’s legacy. Instead, it is Sanders who has championed that legacy in word and in deed for 50 years. This election is not a mere campaign; it is a crusade to resurrect democracy—King-style—in our time. In 2016, Sanders is the one leading that crusade.
Clinton has touted the fact that, in 1962, she met King after seeing him speak, an experience she says allowed her to appreciate King’s “moral clarity.” Yet two years later, as a high schooler, Clinton campaigned vigorously for Barry Goldwater—a figure King called “morally indefensible” owing to his staunch opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And she attended the Republican convention in 1968! Meanwhile, at this same moment in history, Sanders was getting arrested for protesting segregation in Chicago and marching in Washington with none other than King itself. That’s real moral clarity.
Needless to say, some moral clarity set in as Clinton’s politics moved to the left in her college years. After graduating from law school, she joined the Children’s Defense Fund as a staff attorney, working under the great King disciple, Marian Wright Edelman, with whom she struck up a friendship. Yet that relationship soured. This came after Hillary Clinton—in defending her husband’s punitive crime bill and its drastic escalation of the mass incarceration of poor people, especially black and brown people—referred callously to gang-related youth as “superpredators.” And it was Bill Clinton who signed a welfare reform bill that all but eliminated the safety net for poor women and children—a Machiavellian attempt to promote right-wing policies in order to “neutralize” the Republican Party. In protest, Peter Edelman, Marian’s courageous husband, resigned from his assistant secretary post at the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Clintons’ neoliberal economic policies—principally, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall banking legislation, apparently under the influence of Wall Street’s money—have also hurt King’s cause. The Clinton Machine—celebrated by the centrist wing of the Democratic Party, white and black—did produce economic growth. But it came at the expense of poor people (more hopeless and prison-bound) and working people (also decimated by the Clinton-sponsored North American Free Trade Agreement).
Bill apologized for the effects of his crime bill, after devastating thousands of black and poor lives. Will Hillary apologize for supporting the same measures?
It’s no accident that Goldman Sachs paid Hillary Clinton $675,000 for a mere three speeches in 2013, or that the firm has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to her campaigns or that, in total, it has paid her and her husband more than $150 million in speaking fees since 2001. This is the same Goldman Sachs that engaged in predatory lending of sub-prime mortgages that collapsed in 2008, disproportionately hurting black Americans.
These ties are far from being “old news” or an “artful smear,” as Hillary Clinton recently put it. Rather, they perfectly underscore how it is Sanders, not Clinton, who is building on King’s legacy. Sanders’ specific policies—in support of a $15 minimum wage, a massive federal jobs program with a living wage, free tuition for public college and universities, and Medicare for all—would undeniably lessen black social misery. In addition, he has specifically made the promise, at a Black Lives Matter meeting in Chicago, to significantly shrink mass incarceration and to prioritize fixing the broken criminal justice system, including eliminating all for-profit prisons.
Clinton has made similar promises. But how can we take them seriously when the Ready for Hillary PAC received more than $133,000 from lobbying firms that do work for the GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America—two major private prison groups whose aim is to expand mass incarceration for profit? It was only after this fact was reported that Clinton pledged to stop accepting campaign donations from such groups. Similarly, without Sanders in the race to challenge her, there’s no question Clinton would otherwise be relatively silent about Wall Street.
The battle now raging in Black America over the Clinton-Sanders election is principally a battle between a declining neoliberal black political and chattering class still on the decaying Clinton bandwagon (and gravy train!) and an emerging populism among black poor, working and middle class people fed up with the Clinton establishment in the Democratic Party. It is easy to use one’s gender identity, as Clinton has, or racial identity, as the Congressional Black Caucus recently did in endorsing her, to hide one’s allegiance to the multi-cultural and multi-gendered Establishment. But a vote for Clinton forecloses the new day for all of us and keeps us captive to the trap of wealth inequality, greed (“everybody else is doing it”), corporate media propaganda and militarism abroad—all of which are detrimental to black America.
In the age of Barack Obama, this battle remained latent, with dissenting voices vilified. As a black president, Obama has tended to talk progressive but walk neoliberal in the face of outrageous right-wing opposition. Black child poverty has increased since 2008, with more than 45 percent of black children under age 6 living in poverty today. Sanders talks and walks populist, and he is committed to targeting child poverty. As president, he would be a more progressive than not just Clinton but also Obama—and that means better for black America.
Now, with Obama’s departure from the White House, we shall see clearly where black America stands in relation to King’s legacy. Will voters put a smile on Martin’s face? It’s clear how we can do it. King smiles at Sanders’ deep integrity and genuine conviction, while he weeps at the Clinton machine’s crass opportunism and the inequality and injustice it breeds.
Met a Seminole Chief many years ago, and got a real education about what was called by the US “The Seminole Wars”, which were actually a 50 year series of battles between the US Government and the Seminoles, and their black allies, sometimes referred to as Black Seminole because some of the leaders of this revolt were black. The longest and most expensive War fought by the US prior to the Civil War, and the most expensive of the “Indian Wars” in terms of GDP by the US. Which never officially ended.