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  1. #1
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Default Minority Hikers?

    OK, the White is Right thread was probably in bad taste. But it had potential for an incitefull discussion (I hope).

    It does bring up a point that many have noticed: most of the hikers out there are Caucasians. I can count all tha African-American hikers I know on one hand, and I don't know any oriental or hispanic hikers.

    Any thoughts?

    (I hope this doesn't get me nuked)
    SGT Rock
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    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
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    NO SNIVELING

  2. #2

    Default

    I am very embarrassed to say this BUT in my neck of the woods most of the hikers are middle class and Caucasian. Unfortunately this trend will probably continue due where contribution dollars and efforts are placed. The numbers of hikers have increased dramatically and the camping regulations have been tightened due to impact. The camping rules are very restrictive and the link the usfs provides only gives a general overview...the ACTUAL rules are quite lengthy. AMC contribution dollars goes primarily into the AMC hut system and base hotel expansions/operations under the veil of "education". I am not sure on this, but per trail dollar, the Whites, are perhaps the richest area and have the fewest camping options of the entire AT corridor. I got to the point this past year that any dollars that were contributed from this household, I INSISTED go specifically to trail maintenance. I will also add that membership in this organization was made without my full knowledge, I would have gone down fighting on that one. (As for insisting that dollars be spent towards trail maintenance, I am probably living in Polly-Anna land because donating money to this organization is most likely ONLY going towards trail maintenance that HEAD towards huts.) Unfortunately they do NOT have a contribution fund that could be funneled towards backcountry sites and I do not think this will be something that is done in the future. Presently it costs a family of four $240 to stay one night at a hut. It costs a family of four $32 to stay at an AMC campsite. They have a corner on the best site/scenic site market. I would say that puts a squeeze on many families. The campsites are in overflow many times and there is NO present interest in the organization to address that problem. There are campsites available in other locations but tend NOT to be in close proximity to the nice scenic locations and water than areas of AMC huts/campsites...that is simply NOT fair. There is also a parking fee in effect for all of the White Mountain National Forest area. In my opinion, all these factors contribute to excluding many groups of people.

    On a lighter note I DO have a friend who is hispanic, and he just started winter hiking this year. He thinks he's unusual. (And that those are his OWN words.)
    Last edited by Ann; 01-21-2003 at 08:06.

  3. #3

    Default

    I am Indian (from India not Native American) and I VERY RARELY see others of my ethnicity on the trails. In all the years I've been hiking I've seen 3 other Indian people, a couple in NH and a man on Mansfield in VT. My family thinks I am crazy and don't really understand the hiking thing but I think it is mostly because this sort of this isn't part of the norm for our culture. Being an Indian woman makes me even that much more out of the norm in being a hiker. Also as an African American friend of mine pointed out, the majority of African Americans live in cities and rarely have family or friends who live far distances from cities and she believes this contributes to the lack of hikers from her community. Having said that, I drag MANY of my friends hiking and I am happy to say that they come from all walks of life and from different races. Anyway, enough rambling . . .
    -- Nutterbutter

    I went to the woods, because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
    -- Henry David Thoreau

  4. #4
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    Thumbs up

    Ann,

    Thanks so much for saying all that about the AMC, since I have felt that way for so long, in fact since I did my thru hike in 99. I wish more people would tell it like it really is up there and also wish the ATC would not give them total control as it seems to be. That is the reason I have never renewed my membership in the ATC, simply because they allow the AMC to make the rules for the White Mts. At least that is my preception and even what I was told from some of the crew that work there for the AMC. Also just as you said about not knowing the truth about the club. I hiked with some members of the AMC and they did not know what was really going on with the club until they thru-hiked. Just my 2 cents, and I expect to get blasted about this one, but I don't care, I know what I saw and experienced while hiking through the White Mts.

    Sincerely,
    Ed
    Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. :)

  5. #5

    Default

    When I was planning for my 2002 hike, one of my co-workers, who is black, told me her perspective on why most hikers are white.

    The Number one reason was just because the fact that most hikers are white and that she would feel out of place and possibly threatened. She said that she would never go out into the woods where she would be far away from the nearest escape. She said that she felt that she was more likely to get harrassed because there were not as many black people that would be hiking, especially in the south. She also said that it was just plain uncomfortable for her to be so outside of her safety net, which was her community.

    On the other hand, I have seen many hikers of other races on trails other the AT. It's usually a couple (white male, black female) that are hiking for only a few days, or just day hiking.

  6. #6
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Default

    Pushing Daisies,

    That is interesting. I had a soldier who was African American. We were discussing hiking and such because I was doing a barracks inspection and there was all this hiking equipment in his room. He told me about how he had done a bike trip up the Blue Ridge Parkway before comming in the Army. He said he had expected all kinds of problems since he had grown up in the inner city of Detroit. But, he said it was exactly opposite of what he had expected. He said the southerners had been more polite to him than he was used to normal people (I think he ment yankees) being.

    Maybe it is their perception of what it would be like rather than the reality?

    Nutterbutter,

    If hiking isn't normal for your family, how did you get into it in the first place? My family is how I got started over 30 years ago, and I'm trying to keep my kids interested in it now. I would be interested in hearing how that happened.
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  7. #7
    Registered User Waterbuffalo's Avatar
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    Default

    My Wife and I were discussing this the other day. She graduated from UGA with a BA in Sociology. We figured the reason you don't see many Arican Americans on the trail, is that the city is where they for years many have felt safer (ie. away from hillbillies).
    "Sometimes you have to make a clean break from the past to make a new beginning"

  8. #8

    Default

    Originally posted by Waterbuffalo
    My Wife and I were discussing this the other day. She graduated from UGA with a BA in Sociology. We figured the reason you don't see many Arican Americans on the trail, is that the city is where they for years many have felt safer (ie. away from hillbillies).
    I agree that many people (of any race, really. Look at the kinds of questions we get when we announce this kind of trip.) feel safer in the cities.

    The lady that I talked to was from Minneapolis and from Chicago (I believe) before that. I tried to take her on a camping trip but she flat out refused. She told me that she wouldn't feel safe being in a less populated area.

    She said that she felt safer in the city. (Let's just say she lived in the area of Minneapolis that earned the nickname of "Murderapolis" for the city.) I tried to convince her that the woods were safe, but there was no way she was going to believe me.

  9. #9
    Section Hiker 500 miles smokymtnsteve's Avatar
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    Default

    I have run into racism on the trail and by some hostels owners.. and it wasn't hostile Uncle johhny eithier!!!

    I have also Once meet an african-american female on the trail ..very nice person...also i have meet several african -american males on the trail...buffalo soldier and PACMAN...who spent two nights up top of max patch in 2000(?) real nice guy...heavy pack for a small dude...spent one night along with him and group on Max patch he liked it so much that he stayed on Max patch for a second day...saw he again in hot springs as I stayed at elmers three days that year!


    I have also meet oriental hikers...mostly folks of japanese background...several...hiking is a big sport in japan according to my friend hiromitchi...who I spent some time with in 2001 in the Roan mtn area..he was an exchange student staying with my Aunt sharon in newland NC...he loved to hike and sent me a pic of him on MT Fuji..

    during my year of volunteering (1999)
    for the NPS great smokey mtns visitor center cherokee, Oconaluftee...I worked on the info desk...I would not see many african american visitors...however a good many oriental again mainly japanese...and I would see some folks from India ,,a good few....


    but why....several reasons

    money...jobs with vacation benefits

    traveling problems until the 60's and even into the 70's african american people were not allowed overnight lodging or access to restaurants...coming up US441 from atlanta One has to pass thru RABUN county ga...known to not be a good place for a black person to be ,,,there is STILL a lot of racism in that area...

    not part of thier family's culture..the GSM park honors the anglo settler...even though over near Hazel creek thier is a grave of a Black man that you can find and it is marked as such...but this mtn area has never had a large black population...the folks living in the mtn area generally supported the union in the civil war...no large plantations so no large slave owners...so the african -american population was not here..and after the civil war and 'freedom ' it was still extermely hard for african americans to travel...in the south.. if you were black in this time period you just couldn't stay in "regular " hotels... there was even a system of 'black guest houses' in small southern towns there were guest houses or hotels that were run by the black community where a black family traveling could stay ..but you just couldn't stay where ever you wanted it was very limited... US441 out of Atlanta was a small 2 lane road even into the late 70's ..what is now a 2and one half hour drive now would take all day back in the 60's...part of the road through the already mentioned Rabun county is still 2-lane and there are still places where I'm sure that an African -american would be made to feel unwelcome...why there are still place in the area where a Jewish person would be unwelcome...even though I meet a Israeli hiker outside of Watuga lake/hampton TN ..on the way to Damascus...VA i guess I should add...

    Near woody gap in GA there is a store that is REBEL something or other ...I stopped there one time just to check it out and I was uncomfortable there..I'm sure a african american would have felt
    Extremely uncomfortable...

  10. #10
    Springer-->Stony Brook Road VT MedicineMan's Avatar
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    Default racism

    personally I think the trail should be devoid of any racists thoughts. I enjoyed many years in a Scout Troop in rural East Tennessee that was a mix of caucasians, blacks, and orientals. We were all taught by word and example that in Scouting there was no color...that Jesus loves us all. That's the attitude I want to model on the trail and actually love to meet hikers from other lands who can tell me what the trails are like 'over there'. The Indian woman 'Nutter-butter' I think, sets a good example by getting her friends out and into the woods. You never know who may come to your aid but when aid comes does will it matter what color hand is reaching down to you?

  11. #11

    Default Asians NOT orientals

    Ok people, I gotta stop this right here and now. Many people have refered to people from the asian countries as "orientals".

    "Oriental" refers to a type of food. "Asian" refers to region of origin or race.

    Thank you. End of rant.

  12. #12

    Default

    To be completely technical and totally techical and <cough> <gag> politically correct.

    It should be Asian food as well. Oriental would refer to the ethnicity of the culture from which the food came.

    Edit: Well actually I edited this to make sure I did'nt come off as the political correctness police because thats about as far from the truth as anything can possibly be. The edit got lost in some sort of net glitch and its too late to retype all of it.

  13. #13
    Section Hiker 500 miles smokymtnsteve's Avatar
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    Default

    Oriental or Asian"??

    heromitchi called himself an oriental...he lives in japan and his father is a shinto priest...In my post and the otheres which I read here I don't pick up any derogatory message in any anyones' use of the term oriental...

    black , african-american( a term that I don't particualrly like)
    colored, and many other terms been used in this country in the past...I think that the spIrit that someone has toward the person is more important than the "accepted' lingo of the day... labels change constantly always have always will...my post certainly was not against anyone...why my own mother is jewish..makes me a JEW boy myself.... used to call us hebrews among other things!

  14. #14
    Thru-Hiker Grimace's Avatar
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    Default My Sociological Thoughts

    Most minorities in the US have come from hard times. Think about slavery, destitute farming communities in Southeast Asia, poverty in Latin America, etc. I think many who hail from these groups strive to be successful in our capitalist economy. Therefore, they congregate in cities, work their asses off. Furthermore, in a lot of cases, they have come from the woods or an outside lifestyle. Why would someone trying to succeed or change their lives go back to the woods?
    Grimace ME->GA '01
    JMT '03

  15. #15

    Default

    My family does think I am crazy because hiking doesn't fit with anything they have ever understood but they have begun to accept that somehow it has become an essential part of me.

    I hiked for the first time when I was 18 with my boyfriend at the time. He was from Maine and had hiked most of his life. My first trip out into the woods was climbing Tumbledown Mountain in Maine and it was a disaster, he really overestimated my abilities. Because I was a petite 107 pound girl he thought I would just about fly up the Mountain but with starting at 4:30 pm on a late August day and carrying no flashlight and no water, we were already in trouble. He insisted we'd get up there and back in 2 hours and didn't need anything. He had hiked the same trail with his guy friends when they were 16. Needless to say, 4 hours later, the sun had mostly set and we were at the top for what should've been a beautiful sunset but the dark clouds had rolled in and we had no light source. I was parched and frightened out of my wits. Then the rain began pouring and with the thunder and lightening we slipped and fell our way back down the mountain in the dark. About a half mile from the bottom (we didn't know at the time how close we were to the end), with 2 or 3 near mishaps, a backpacker who was out for the night with his 2 year old son heard me crying and found us. He gave me water and his extra flashlight and my boyfriend and made it safely to our car at about midnight. We left the nice man his flashlight and a 20 dollar bill in his pick-up truck.

    Anyway, that was my first hiking trip.
    I didn't hike again for a while but eventually I began going again with the outing club from college and eventually as I learned to hike safely I grew to LOVE it.

    Now I hike/backpack for a number of reasons. I like the serenity of it, it makes me feel at peace in my hectic life. I find strength in the outdoors. I find confidence and beauty within myself. In my "real" life I find so much meanness and attitude, so much stress and when I am out there I feel calm. I go now because somewhere between Tumbledown Mountain and now I found a part of the wilderness within me and it brings me real joy. I know that long after, people and things have walked/left from my life, I will have the woods.

    Anyway, sorry I rambled for so long but you asked . . .
    -- Nutterbutter

    I went to the woods, because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
    -- Henry David Thoreau

  16. #16

    Default Great post Sil74!!!

    Really nice post and good to see you over on this board!!!!

  17. #17
    Registered User Trail Dog's Avatar
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    Default

    As a city boy born and living in New York City i dont know very many outdoors people, and far fewer hikers. Asides from my old boyscout troop and the few others in my National Guard unit who didnt join for the college money i only know ONE person who likes to hike.

    Its got to be a city thing and if it wasn't for my father getting the family into the woods once or twice a year when i was a kid i'd never be out there myself.

    Rob
    Happy Trails
    THE Mule

  18. #18

    Default city folk and nature

    I teach in a public city high school. Over the past year I've been explaining to my students what a thru-hike is and that I plan to do one this year. With 2 exceptions out of probably 200 students, the reaction from these kids is this: "WHY WOULD ANYONE EVER WANT TO DO *THAT*?" Mountains, trails, forests, and nature in general is a foreign and disagreeable world to city kids of any race. A group of students doing a work study program last summer all opted to clean bathrooms over picking up litter on trails just outside the city. My students all truly think I'm completely nuts for attempting a thru-hike. And many of them really believe I'm going to die out there, no matter what I say.

    So, the point is, I agree with those who are saying that the absence of minorities on the trail is mostly related to minorities being concentrated in cities.
    "you'll never fly as the crow flies
    get used to a country mile
    when you're learning to face
    the path at your pace
    every choice is worth your while"

    -Indigo Girls

  19. #19

    Default

    Just read the responses to the thread on the proposed 30 day visa. If this is passed foreign thruhikers will be eliminated. Did hikers respond by opposing this ban, NO they supported it completely. There is a very obvious reason there are few nonwhites on the Trail, they are clearly not wanted. Oh, yes there is all kinds of politically correct talk, but have you ever been in a shelter when a nonwhite walks in. All the good old boys from the north and the south shut right up.

  20. #20
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    Default

    Bull****! Were you stoned on 9/11 or something? We lost 3000 people in an instant. Time to regulate strictly who comes into this country. Tough **** if foreigners can't come here for six months to play. All of the foreigners I've ever met hiking were from Europe, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand. All white. Got nothing to do with race. By the way Blue Jay have you served in the armed forces?

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