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What’s Keeping African-Americans Away From National Parks?

The accents vary in passing. The complexions don’t. I’ve hiked Joshua Tree National Park trails over 40 times and remember seeing persons of a like hue so infrequent, I question if the few recollections are even accurate. The absence of Black people in the park supports a notion old heads would harp on during my youth: “Black people don’t do the outdoors”. And the numbers, at least in terms of National Park attendance, seem to support this.

Black folks make up 7-percent of annual park visitors, Latinos 9-percent and the Asian population, a mere 3-percent. Collectively, people of color make up 19 percent of national park visitors despite making up 40-percent of the US population.

What’s keeping the African-American population away from the outdoors? Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson suspects its generational trauma brought on by slavery. Hear his thought-provoking commentary below.

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