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End the duopoly

Black Birders Call Out Racism, Say Nature Should Be For Everyone

Credit: Katherine Arntzen Georgia Southern University While Christian Cooper was bird-watching in Central Park last month, he asked a pet owner to put a leash on her dog, as required by park rules. When she declined, Cooper began filming. The video, which went viral, shows the owner, Amy Cooper, who is white, calling 911 and saying, “There’s an man, African-American… threatening me and my dog.”

The scene captured was all too familiar to other black birders, outdoor enthusiasts and researchers who do fieldwork. Several of them shared their own experiences in a group chat, and economist Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman suggested finding a way to celebrate black birders. Two days of intensive organizing later, the group BlackAFinSTEM launched the first Black Birders Week. “For far too long, black people in the United States have been shown that outdoor exploration activities such as birding are not for us—whether it be because of the way the media chooses to present who is the ‘outdoorsy’ type or the racism experienced by black people when we do explore the outdoors, as we saw recently in Central Park,” said co-organizer Corina Newsome, a birder and graduate student at Georgia Southern University focusing on avian conservation, in […]

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