Now America’s National Parks Are Racist

Eric Owens | Editor

The cozily white opinion pages of The New York Times attacked the National Park Service and America’s majestic national parks as racist because way too many white people visit them.

Also, the visitors are old. And about 80 percent of the park service’s employees are white.

Thus, “minorities are unwelcome.”

The 1,080-word Times Sunday Review piece by author Glenn Nelson is entitled “Why Are Our Parks So White?

Nelson argues that race plays a huge role in determining which people visit national parks. He is distressed, he says, because too few members of racial minorities are among the nearly 300 million people who visit America’s many conservation areas annually.

People who are defined as not white make up 37 percent of the U.S. population. However, just 22 percent of the people who visited national parks were minority members according to a recent survey.

Nelson mentions the plight of a 58-year-old black woman who hates mosquitos and is very sensibly afraid of “bears, cougars and wolves.” He also expresses deep concern about a 29-year-old black man who has no desire whatsoever to visit national parks and a 51-year-old black woman who wants to visit a national park but can’t find anyone to go with her.

All three of the black people Nelson mentions live within driving distance of Mount Rainier, the tallest mountain in the Pacific Northwest and home to an active volcano.

Nelson, “the son of a Japanese mother,” also wrote that in his childhood he and some friends were concerned that they would see “a ‘Whites Only’ sign at the entrance” of Mount Rainier National Park or that they could die by “being lynched” or in an attack “while collecting firewood after the sun went down.”

He provides no evidence that any of these things actually happened to anyone during his childhood.

Nelson’s solution to persuade more minorities to visit America’s 84 million acres of national parks involves a strident, vocal information campaign by the park service.

“Its outreach should be tailored to minorities and delivered where they log in, follow, Tweet, view or listen. The park service needs to shout to minorities from its iconic mountaintops, ‘We want you here!'” he advises.

“The national parks are every American’s vacation home,” he also insists.

At a nature website he runs, Nelson describes himself as “a person of color.” He believes he has earned his ability to lecture America on race because he once discussed “race with players in the NBA, back when it was rebounding from a reputation of being ‘too black.'”

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Tags : national park service racism
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