NatureBridge works to increase access to our parks and provide safe, inclusive experiences for all of our students. It is central to our mission. But is it enough to increase access? Can we guarantee the safety of our black and brown students beyond the confines of our national park classrooms? Can we say, with confidence, that these are your public lands, that you can experience and enjoy them without fear? That in these spaces you will be regarded and treated equitably?
No, we can not.
Ahmaud Arbery was murdered while going for a jog in his neighborhood. Trayvon Martin was murdered while walking home at night. The police were called on Christian Cooper while he was bird watching in Central Park.
And the death of George Floyd only further cements what black and brown communities have known and experienced since the founding of this nation—that all people are created but not treated equal; that Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are unalienable Rights for some, not all.
We all must recognize and work to correct systemic racism in this country. We each, on an individual level, must identify our biases and dismantle our racism so we can create a safe and equitable society.
At NatureBridge, we are committed to making the outdoors a safe place for all. We stand in solidarity with those demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. And we ask you to reflect on your place in this system, to educate yourself and to go beyond empathy to action.
Look to organizations like Outdoor Afro, Latino Outdoors, Youth Outside, Outdoors Alliance for Kids and Black Girls Trekkin’ to better understand the lived experiences of communities of color in the outdoors. Listen, read and watch black stories. Support black-owned businesses. Make a donation. Sign a petition. Call your congressperson. Join a protest. Do something. People are dying.