Users of American’s outdoor national parks are overwhelmingly white, even in states where nonwhites form the majority of the population, new figures on national park usage have confirmed.
The fact that the majority of nonwhites do not like hiking, camping, or nature is, of course, being blamed on “white racism”—even though there is not the slightest evidence for this.
According to an article published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a “multi-million dollar push” is underway to achieve a “racially equitable use” of Minnesota’s parks.
According to the paper, the campaign aims to “break down barriers that are making Twin Cities parks and trails feel to some like white people’s preserves.”
However, no one is quite sure what exactly these “barriers” are, and the only initiative which the report specifically mentions consists of “a heightened focus on eliminating racial disparities” though the creation of “trail connections between racially diverse and white-dominated neighborhoods,”—as if that is going to magically persuade nonwhites to start using the parks.
The main evidence of park disparities in the Twin Cities metro area remains a 2008 survey of the racial and ethnic makeup of visitors to major regional parks and trails, such as the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis or St. Paul’s Como Park.
While blacks make up nearly 7 percent of the metro area’s population, they account for less than 3 percent of regional park and trail users. Percentages for Hispanics look much the same.
“The Elm Creeks and Highlands, the gems of our system” feel to visiting minorities “very white upper class,” according to Anthony Taylor, a black member of the Met Council’s parks commission, the Star Tribune report said.
Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega told his colleagues not long ago: “The reality is, when I go to a regional park or a county park, unless there’s a special event by a group, the diversity is not there in terms of usage.”
The report goes on to confirm that the nonwhite dislike of the national park system is not limited to that state, saying that in Arizona, Tucson is 44 percent Latino, yet Saguaro National Park on its outskirts draws just 2 percent of its 650,000 annual visitors from that city.
According to a 2009 survey by the University of Wyoming and the National Park Service (NPS), whites accounted for 78 percent of the national parks’ visitors from 2008 to 2009; Hispanics, 9 percent; blacks, 7 percent; and Asians, 3 percent.
When compared with their share of the US population, white park visitors are overrepresented by 14 percentage points, whereas blacks were underrepresented by 6 percentage points.
In 2015, the New York Times ran an article titled “Why Are Our Parks So White”—and claimed that the US’s national parks attracted 292.8 million visitors in 2014—but that the “vast majority” where white.
As is usual for the New York Times, “white racism” was accorded the blame, with the article writer—a mixed race journalist with a Japanese mother—claiming that he and his friends used to joke at college about finding “whites only” signs at national parks or “being lynched or attacked while collecting firewood after the sun went down.”
The NYT article when on to say that the 2011 park service survey claimed that “nonwhites were more than three times as likely as whites to say that the parks provided poor service and were not safe to visit.”
Going further, the NYT also claimed that one of the reasons for this was that “80 percent of park service employees in 2014 were white,” and that the “parks’ official charity, the National Park Foundation, has four minority members on its 22-person board.”
In other words, the argument is that the mere presence of white people causes offence, and is the reason why nonwhites don’t want to go to national parks.