We journeyed to the edge of Oregon. This location is off the grid in wild backcountry called the Alvord Desert. This special jewel of nature was truly beautiful and awe inspiring. My back country experience and the way my dad was brought up in the country gives him a different lens of understanding of the wild country lifestyle that allows my dad to navigate in the back country. My dad partner said something that made my dad have to take his lens off and look at this camp area with bullet holes and with a few kids freely running around with BB guns and to an untrained eye that BB gun would be seen as a real gun. There was also a group of intoxicated back country white men playing heavy metal and country music so loud it echoes across the desert and no curfew in place. My dad partner did not grow up around guns and hunting and she was disturbed and intimidated by all of this. All of a sudden, she did not feel safe. We were in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and she felt unsafe being there and me to. I was monitoring my dad at night as he was up and down all night fighting to try to stay sleep but was hard with all the chaos happening. This is similar to the feeling many people of color have when they are in the outdoors. They feel unsafe. Not invited. Not welcomed. They feel like outsiders who don’t belong there. Almost as if they were not allowed in this space. Yes this is a lifestyle subculture that has been around for many years in back wild country but not an excuse and not a first impression to new folks wanting to explore further in nature seeking to create new precious memories for themselves. BIPOC and all does not need to have this as they’re experience exploring in nature and does not go over when with us four legged service dogs or any one who has their pets. There are no boundaries when in nature and should never be.
Your voice matters, especially outdoor champion white allies who are in these spaces holding decision maker positions that can make change. Outdoor spaces need you to step in even in the far backcountry where the welcome access and safety in the outdoors is heavily needed! Your action helps cast a safety net for BIPOC to feel welcome and safe in the backcountry to explore and connect to nature. And for all humans!
I believe the freedom for all people to roam in the outdoors without fear and intimidation is a basic and undeniable human right!
Love is King