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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Eric has revolved in and out of passport controls for over 20 years. From his first archaeological field school in Belize to rural villages in Ethiopia and Buddhist temples in Laos, Eric has come smile to smile with all walks of life. A writer, photographer and entrepreneur, the LA native believes the power of connectivity and community is enriched through travel.

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