August 01, 2016

Blacks Eschew Federal Parks Because of Racism, Researchers Claim

Timothy Birdnow

Blacks do not go to National Parks as much as whites because of racism, a new study from the University of Missouri Columbia.

According to the article:So

"For the study, Lee, an assistant teaching professor of parks, recreation and tourism in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, interviewed African American residents in the community of Cedar Hill, Texas. The community is predominately middle-class, African American and located close to Cedar Hill State Park. Despite the proximity, Lee found that very few African Americans visit the park. During in-depth interviews with members of the community, Lee found that most African Americans had no interest in park visitation or chose to avoid the park due to a history of racial discrimination in the area and concerns about how they would be treated if they visited the park.

"Many of the adults I spoke with were raised by parents who experienced discriminatory Jim Crow laws which prevented or discouraged African Americans from visiting public parks,” Lee said. "Park attendance in America is culturally embedded, meaning children who are raised going to parks will grow up to take their children. Many African Americans do not go to parks because their parents and grandparents could not take their children. In other words, many African Americans’ lack of interest in parks or outdoor recreation is a cultural disposition shaped by centuries of racial oppression. While Cedar Hill is a unique community, these issues are prevalent around the country and applicable to many national and state parks.”

End excerpt.

So this fellow (whose specialty is more in line with food and beverage scholarship than with a rigorous statistical research program) interviewed a couple of people outside ONE National Park and was able to reach these far-reaching conclusions. This is terrible methodology

Lee continues:

"Lee says that Cedar Hill State Park was once a large plantation run by a family who owned slaves. The historical sites at the park make no mention of this history, which Lee says adds to the resentment from the black community.

"Researchers have documented that the omission of African American history is quite common at public parks and recreation areas,” Lee said. "So the question is: whose story needs to be told to the public and future generations? African Americans I interviewed firmly believed that African American history needs to be told at these parks.”

Lee suggests that public officials partner with schools and youth development organizations to encourage children to visit parks at early ages. He suggests hosting field trips and picnic days. He says exposing younger generations to parks will help them develop an interest in the outdoors, leading black children to revisit the parks when they grow up"

End excerpt.

So the land was once a plantation; so what? Ever land in America has some sort of history that isn't mentioned because, well, what does it matter? How many people know that the city of Hazelwood in north St. Louis County was owned by the Commandant of Camp Jackson, the state militia training ground that was raided by Union irregulars on the eve of the Civil War? Frost's farm was called Hazelwood. Nobody much cares, though. Or how many people know about the Republic of West Florida? These are pieces of history that are largely forgotten, and have more pertinence to America than the fact that a Federal park was once a plantation with slaves.

The reality is most blacks aren't that excited by parks. Just as a while ago there was hand wringing about the lack of black bird watchers, so too there seems to be concern about a dearth of black folks in National parks - as if it matters. Why can't they do what they enjoy? If they want to go to the parks, fine, but why care if they don't?

But in modernity racism is the eternal reason for everything that makes black folks who they are. We cannot ever say that perhaps they just aren't that into it; it must stem from the evil white man's enslavement and subsequent discrimination. So we have to take action to fix a problem that is no problem at all.

America has become the Mad Hatter's tea party.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 10:50 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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