The Progressive movement has a new demand to add to our zillion others: we need to concrete over every last patch of Allah’s green earth, level all mountains, empty the lakes and seas, cut down the forests.
Although the above proposal may seem frankly absurd and at odds with our environmental agenda, we’re deadly serious. Turning the world into one giant urban zone needs to happen soon because the enjoyment of nature by cis-gendered white males is offensive to so many minority groups. As Emily Zak writes in Everyday Feminism, Outdoor Recreation is racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, ableist and reeks of white privilege.
Zak begins her article by pointing out a simple truth – due to inequality, poor people cannot afford to leave their urban dwellings:
“Unlike going to the movies, eating at a restaurant, or other “luxuries,” spending time in nature seems free. But not everyone has equal access. As with travel, marginalized groups face a lot of barriers to outdoor recreation. This leaves the different types of outdoor fun to privileged folks…”
Certain marginalised groups are more oppressed than others even if they do make it to the countryside. Campers Of Color, for example, simply avoid pitching their tents in sites when they feel threatened by the overwhelming whiteness of other outdoor enthusiasts. Zak explains how uncomfortable and yet oh so sensitive this makes her:
“Like a lot of white people, I learned to ignore the whiteness of myself and other outdoor enthusiasts around me. I didn’t hear backpackers saying overtly racist things or see jerks physically blocking people of color from the trails, so I paid the homogeneity no mind.
It’s easy to overlook inequality when it’s systemic. It’s even easier when we benefit.”
Islamophobia, too, is also rampant in the wilderness. Racist white hikers basically assume that any Muslims they come across are in a terrorist training camp rather than enjoying the fresh air:
“Ambreen Tariq runs Brown People Camping, an Instagram account that promotes diversity in public lands. She says she can feel like an outsider hiking and camping as a Muslim woman of color and immigrant…
…We need to acknowledge outdoor recreation’s lack of diversity and inclusion…
…We forget that society’s hierarchies of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, body size, and economic class don’t magically disappear in the forest.”
We wrote earlier this week about weight-based discrimination. This is bountiful in nature, where there is a total absence of elevators to transport super sized climbers and the disabled to the summit of Mount Everest. Why should the joys of mountaineering be the sole preserve of the physically fit?
Zak complains: “Fitness culture overall reeks of fat-shaming, for one, which is reflected in workout clothing offerings…
…For those who’d prefer cycling: Only last year did anyone think to build a bike for someone who’s heavier than 300 pounds.”
Hiking etc. also grossly offends Native Americans:
“Many national parks and public lands were built on colonized lands. Even US National Parks reflect colonialism, where white leaders ignored Indigenous people in the area to establish.”
Finally, the Great Outdoors is basically homophobic and just plain wrong by any standard of decency.
“Media paint a homogeneous picture of who enjoys the outdoors, as well. They’re typically white, male, cisgender, slender, able-bodied, and assumed straight…structures humans put in place – capitalism, colonialism, racism, sexism, and ableism – allow some people to access the outdoors and force others home.”
Once we have concreted over everything that offends, we need to do something about those hideously white clouds …