At AdventurUs Women, we believe in the transformative power of the outdoors for women. The outdoors offers opportunities for risk, growth, bonding, joy, and empowerment. Our spaces are designed to foster inclusive and affirming environments for women of all races, ages, sizes, abilities, and experience levels to learn skill-building and develop confidence in the outdoors.
I am a white, wealthy, able-bodied, fat adventurous woman and editorial intern with AdventurUs Women this summer. The outdoors have allowed me to grow personally and take risks I never thought I could. I am also a college student and have the privilege to develop a consciousness of anti-racism and critical race theory in my studies. I study race in my coursework, integrate this theory into my daily practice, and organize extracurricularly to dismantle the racist systems of policing and prisons. And yet, I still have the immense privilege to compartmentalize and leave behind my studies when I lace up my hiking boots.z
The outdoors are not a separate space from the tangible realities of the everyday. The systems of oppression that structure our lives do not disappear at the forest’s edge or at the summit. White privilege allows white people the luxury of using the outdoors as an escape mechanism, but the complicated, oppressive history of outdoor culture for most marginalized people and especially Black people doesn’t allow the same freedom.
As white people, it is our duty both collectively and individually to unlearn and deconstruct racism. This work begins in ourselves and extends into our communities and into the world at large. It is not an optional task nor one that begins and ends in this particular moment of violence and grief sprung from the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery.
This time offers the potential to gain momentum and enact long-lasting change. Every single moment, day, month, we must commit to this work, pay reparations, and get involved on a grassroots level. We cannot all do everything, but everyone can do something and we can all integrate anti-racism into a practice of our everyday lives.
Black Lives Matter unequivocally at AdventurUs Women.
Actions you can take as a white person or household:
- Educate yourself, your family, your friends, and your community, and don’t demand the free labor of Black people in the learning process. Make it a household activity or a book club with your friends–get as many other white people involved as you can. Be vocal about anti-racism and intervene whenever you witness racism. We have developed a list of some readings and other resources where you can begin this learning process below.
- Allocate a percentage of each paycheck to pay reparations. Economic injustice is a major component of systemic racism, and it is our duty to level this inequity by distributing our own wealth. Become a regular sustainer of national organizations such as Black Lives Matter and grassroots organizations in your area and subscribe to the Patreon platforms of Black creators you follow or send them money directly through Venmo, Cash App, or Paypal. See our list of a few Black women in the outdoors to follow below.
- Participate in protests in any capacity you are able to. This can mean marching, making signs, purchasing or distributing supplies and snacks, contributing to bail funds, acting as a safety contact for people on the ground, or offering your own skills and services (law, therapy, de-escalation, medicine, etc.).
- Rather than circulating images and videos of violence against Black people or protestors, instead use your platform to amplify the voices of Black people including movement leaders and organizers and, of course, the many organizations that uplift and organize for Black lives every day.
- If you are reading this from any sort of screen, you can take this action! Stream this video to generate ad revenue for vital black-centered organizations. Turn off ad blocker, leave the ads running, and click away from the video at least once before repeating it. The video features amazing work by black creators including music, poetry, and visual art. You can also leave the video playing on mute as you work, listen to music, or read the following books.
Here are a few accessible, introductory resources on anti-racism where you can start your education:
- This toolkit and resource guide developed by racial justice educator, lawyer, healer, speaker, and author Rachel Ricketts.
- Rachel Cargle, an activist, academic, writer, and lecturer who posts extensive accessible content on anti-racism on her Instagram.
- Learn to practice anti-racism under experts by registering for this two-part Introduction to Identity, Social Justice, and Antiracism for the White Community workshop coming up June 16th and 18th taught by Mirna Valerio, Michael Lomuscio, Leann Siefferman Busdeker, Liza Talusan, and Andrea Maia.
A huge part of unlearning racism and practicing anti-racism is to read, and read often, about whiteness, white privilege, and anti-racism. Access works by Black authors at your local library, through Libby for audiobooks and ebooks, or purchase their works directly from their websites to maximize their profit or shop small from Bookshop or Powell’s Books.
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo: In this fundamental introductory text, DiAngelo probes at the stress that white people often encounter when faced with issues of racism, deconstructing the feelings of discomfort and guilt she names White Fragility. White Fragility teaches us to unlearn this defensive, emotional reaction and push ourselves past discomfort into constructive, antiracist action towards racial
- justice.Purchase it from DiAngelo’s website and read the accompanied reader’s guide here.
- Read an abbreviated article by DiAngelo on the subject here. We encourage you to also purchase the book and support DiAngelo’s work monetarily.
- So You want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo: An introductory guide to the basics of race in conversation. How do you respond to racism in your everyday life? How might you perpetuate it? Oluo provides an accessible overview to many racial issues you may have heard only in passing.
- Purchase it here and read Oluo’s article, So You Want To Fight White Supremacy, in the meantime.
- How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi: Not-racist is not the opposite of racist. In this vital reading on antiracist consciousness, Kendi emphasizes the importance of exceeding a passive, non-racist stance and working to become anti-racist. Drawing upon his own personal experiences, Kendi asks readers to imagine an antiracist world and how we can do our part to construct it.
- Purchase it here. Gather your friends and use the accompanying book club kit to start cultivating this future together.
- Antiracist Baby, Kendi’s latest work, introduces antiracism as a concept and practice to younger audiences (or someone who needs more accessible basics). Pre-order it before it releases this month here.
- Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall: An essential reading for every feminist journey, Kendall pulls back the curtain on the failures of the modern feminist movement regarding the intersection of gender with race, class, and sexual orientation. Writing on this conflict, the way in which material needs of most women are overshadowed by the movement’s focus on the privilege of a few, Kendall pushes a constructive critique on feminism and asks how we can do better
- Read or listen to an excerpt or purchase the book here.
Anti-racism begins in our homes. We must unlearn it collectively and start at a young age. Children begin to receive messages about race and racial differences far before we begin to discuss it with them.
Learn to start having these conversations:
- Visit The Conscious Kid on Instagram and commit to learning and teaching anti-racism with your children on a regular basis by purchasing a subscription to The Conscious Kid’s Patreon.
- Visit a more in-depth resource guide developed by Katrina Michie on Pretty Good.
- Look at this guide of 5 action items you can take start cultivating conversations around anti-racism at home developed by Chelsea of She Colors Nature.
As demonstrated in the past months in the cases of Ahmaud Arbery and Christian Cooper, white privilege has the potential to be weaponized and cause immediate danger to Black people in the outdoors. These instances are not new and they are not uncommon, but they are publicizing this danger and sparking movements such as #BlackBirdersWeek. As adventurous women, we bring our anti-racist praxis wherever we are, including the outdoors.
Here are some books & articles about race and the outdoors:
- Melanin Base Camp’s amazing introduction and resource guide to outdoor allyship. This piece connects the dots of racism in the outdoors on both micro and macro levels.
- The Avarna Group’s article on Connecting the Dots: Why Black Lives Must Matter to the Environmental Movement.
- The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham: A poetic, immersive memoir connecting the author’s experiences as a Black man in the outdoors with the history of slavery in the south. Purchase the memoir here.
- Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors by Carolyn Finney: This academic text questions the underrepresentation of African American people in the outdoors interrogates the commodification of the environment, integrating a critique of slavery, racial violence, and Jim Crow. Purchase the book here.
- Also read Finney’s article in Outside Magazine on representation in the outdoors.
- Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage by Dianne D. Glave: In this historical analysis of African American people’s relationship with the outdoors, Glave highlights Black environmentalism and reclaims this heritage. Purchase the book here.
Representation is a major part of constructing an inclusive, anti-racist reality in the outdoors. It is necessary to decenter whiteness in the outdoors and amplify the platforms of people of color. If we don’t see Black people represented, we continue to perpetuate the stereotype that Black people don’t experience or enjoy the outdoors. Fill your feed with Black women in the outdoors (and always make sure to support their work monetarily if you can), including but of course not limited to:
- Mirna Valerio: an AdventurUs Women favorite and friend, is an ultrarunner, adventurer, author, and the founder of the blog, Fat Girl Running. Purchase her book and make sure to follow her on Instagram.
- L. Renee Blount: an outdoor athlete, adventurer photographer, and design consultant. Follow them on Instagram!
- Kenya and Michelle of The Outdoor Journal Tour.
- Latoya Shauntay Snell: a chef, ultrarunner, and author of Running Fat Chef blog.
- Ayesha Rosena Anna McGowan: the first African-American female professional road cyclist.
- Naomi of Irie to Aurora: a van-lifer and the founder of Diversify Van Life.
- Gevin Fax: an actor, musician, artist, and member of The Litas Los Angeles, a group of women motorcyclists in LA.
- Chelsea Murphy: a Black adventure mama seeking to diversify the outdoors.
- Teresa Baker: author of The Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge and Black adventurous woman.
- Karole Johnson: an adventurous woman and photographer.
- Iris Hill: a conservation biologist, explorer, and PBS TV host.
- Melba of All Colors in Nature who works to inspire diversity in the outdoors.
- Nicole “Nik” Snell: an adventurer, self-defense instructor, speaker, and CEO of GirlsFight Back.
- Rue Mapp: the founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, a national organization working to connect Black people with nature.
Also, be sure to follow and support some of the organizations centering and uplifting Black people in the outdoors:
- Black Girls Trekkin’
- Black Girls Surf
- Black Girls Run
- Black Girls Do Bike
- Girl Trek
- Vibe Tribe Adventures
None of these resources are exhaustive–there is a world of amazing work by Black people to be discovered and supported in our fight for a just future and our own personal anti-racist work. This anti-racism resources and action items blog is a living document of selected resources and individuals. If you have suggestions for additions, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to having these conversations (including the tough ones!) and continuing our own learning with you all.