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It has begun (like it never stopped)


I was prepared to go to bed when I read this:

Black campers recruit against history, stereotype

GADSDEN, Ala.—The throngs filling campgrounds across America this weekend will include hardy outdoors types and those who prefer creature comforts, but they'll have at least one important thing in common: Nearly all of them are white.

A small but committed group of campers is trying to change that by growing a generation of black campers, one person at a time.

The National African-American RVers Association is composed almost exclusively of black people who camp, although it includes a few whites and Hispanics. The group doesn't have much money to buy ads or solicit new members.

Instead, it always holds its major national gathering in July when schools are out so children and grandchildren can come along.

"We cater mostly to the family so that our young people will be able to grow up understanding the outside world and seeing the creation that God has created for us and how beautiful it is," said the Rev. John Womack of Boston, the group's president.

Getting more blacks into the woods would mean breaking decades of stereotypes and overcoming a long-standing leeriness that members say many have about camping. Bad things happen to black people in the woods, the story goes, and they can't afford recreational vehicles....

Two things struck me:

The lack of a word: Lynching.

The author and interviewees dance around it, but they never say out loud that black people's life expectancy has historically gone down when they traveled to a rural area, or a neighborhood, or hell, any area where they are not expected to be. This is still true, in this age. Read Orcinus for context.

And, the inevitable reader response:

Totally Inappropriate
I would never believe that on a Memorial Day weekend the Denver Post would spend it's time posting racist articles then respecting the veterans who gave their lives for our country.

His complaint? That the black RV group was racist for merely existing. And, he has company and support.

This is what we're talking about when racism becomes trivialized and used as a scattershot weapon by people who know better. We create the weapons, and the usual suspects use them -- but they have no remorse in using them to shout any story down about racial differences in this country, and by and large, They win.

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basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

He was very skeptical about the idea of black people going camping. As to your otther point, well said. You are absolutely correct. We have trivialized racism in this race and we have embraced misogyny. Both African Americans and women have a lot of work to do in the aftermath of Obama's campaign.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

To the affect that, when white people have no electricity, running water, or refridgerated food, they call it camping.

AA's & Hispanics call it life.

Bill Clinton for First Dude!!!

Salmo's picture
Submitted by Salmo on

I own and operate a campground in Maine, most of our campers come from the area around Boston. For whatever it's worth, I observe that groups of people in their twenties and thirties commonly are multi-racial. This weekend, five relatively large groups of unrelated adults camped with us. Each was a group in which the organizing appeared to come from the men. Recalling each, it seems that the men in each group were about 20% Hispanic or African-American. But, their sisters were not there. There are fewer groups organized by and composed largely of women, and they include Hispanic women but rarely African-Americans. I have no explanation for this, beyond the general observation that fewer women than men camp, and that women perceive more threats in wild places.

Submitted by cg.eye on

One possibility not explored: That men camping together just might also go for a bout of hunting. Everyone has a gun, and trusts each other. They have to.

Going into the great outdoors armed is one thing, and going into the woods basically defenseless, another.

Salmo's picture
Submitted by Salmo on

The groups organized by men were either work related (two construction companies), or related to some past common experience (usually something related to school). The women's group this weekend was self described as a bachlorette party. To my knowledge, none carried guns. Our rules specifically prohibit the use or display of guns; if they had any I do not know of it. It's not hunting season, except for turkeys, and we don't let the campers hunt in any event.

The dangers from animals are quite small, and guns are not particularly well suited to those that exist. The snapping turtles have never bitten anyone, even the kid to told his mother that "this rock is moving." The mom might have been a heart attack candidate, though. There are moose in the woods, and this time of year it's a good idea to not get between a cow and her calf. Later in the year, the bulls in rut are chasing the cows who choose territories outside of our campground.

Other than that, the large animals are generally willing to go out of their way to avoid problems with people. I did have to get after a couple of guys who thought a beaver was cute and were wondering what it meant that he was snapping his teeth at them when they approached within about 5 feet. I tell people to be careful of their meat and garbage. We seldom have a visit by bears, but visiting skunks are pretty common. The rabies problem is over for now, so the encounters are just unpleasant if campers don't use good judgment. Don't feed the raccoons is good advice, generally accepted. I have seen a couple of wolves, and I think that I hear them regularly. The wolves sing from Mt. Tom, their songs are different than the coyotes', and the coyotes generally sing from our pastures or a nearby hill. Neither get anywhere near my campers, and I advise those who ask to sit back and enjoy the concert. Finally, the night sounds that my campers find most disturbing are the hunting cries of great horned owls.