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In commemoration of Juneteenth, many Black-led outdoor organizations led hiking trips and nature-based events across the country.
Organizations, such as Vibe Tribe Adventures, Outdoorsy Black Women, and the National Brotherhood of Skiers, are actively working to create inclusive environments where Black individuals can enjoy outdoor activities and challenge the misconception that the outdoors is not meant for them.
Many Black people have experienced discrimination when trying to participate in outdoor activities because of the stereotype that camping, hiking, skiing, and swimming are exclusively for White people.
Juneteenth connects Black people to each other and the surrounding world
Vibe Tribe Adventures was founded by Jessica Newton, who discovered her love for the outdoors while attending a predominantly White private school. Vibe Tribe Adventures was originally named Black Girls Hike but has since evolved to include a broader range of activities such as camping, fishing and archery.
In 2017 when the organization was founded the response to Black Girls Hike was overwhelming, with approximately 1,200 Black women joining the movement within the first year. Newton was astonished by the immense support, as she herself had once been conditioned to believe that Black people didn’t take part in outdoor hobbies.
The growth of the organization is a testament to Vibe Tribe Adventures’ commitment to providing opportunities for Black individuals to engage with nature. However, their journey has not been without challenges. Newton recounted an incident in Colorado where the police approached her hiking group after a complaint from a group of White horseback riders, who referred to them as a “mob.”
She expressed that feeling uncomfortable and experiencing such discrimination perpetuates the idea that Black people should shy away from outdoor activities.
Beyond Juneteenth, Newton emphasized the everyday and historical barriers that prevented Black individuals from accessing National and State Parks due to their skin color and how it has resulted in lingering feelings of discomfort. She expressed that these experiences have left a lasting trauma that needs to be mended by introducing Black people to outdoor activities.
According to Newton, “There’s a lot of healing that we as a Black community must do in order to reconnect and deepen our relationship with the outdoors because it’s our natural birthright to be there.”