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How Black Outdoor Leaders are Diversifying the Outdoors Through Social Media

An unexpected side effect of a global quarantine and this national reckoning on race has been the amplification of Black voices in spaces where we previously were not heard. With social media-focused campaigns like “Black Birders Week” and “Black Hikers Week” taking off, Black voices in the outdoor recreation space have been seen and heard like never before.

There are so many Black outdoor leaders with hiking groups, adventure groups, and others that are finally being seen and welcomed by the rest of the outdoor community. 

You may wonder why it’s necessary to have “Black groups.” Why can’t Black people just join up with other hiking clubs or adventure groups? Why does race matter?

Well, simply put, it matters because representation matters. Often in other hiking groups or outdoor clubs, many of us are often the only people in the group that looks like us—it’s not always a comfortable feeling to be the only one.   

The feeling of safety and comfort are key barriers that keep many people of color from venturing out of their comfort zone. Having groups lead by people who understand the unique challenges of being in this situation is key to breaking down those barriers. 

Seeing this explosion of melanin all over Instagram has been truly inspiring, and it has continued to prove that representation is crucial to ending stereotypes of what “Black people don’t do.”   

This movement has also provided more visibility to outdoor brands, debunking the notion that Black customers are not their target market; it has shown there is in fact a market for Black outdoor lovers and that brands must be committed to do better in their marketing campaigns and efforts to be intentional about showing more diversity.

A quick search of hashtags like #blackinnature #blackoutdoors #blackwomenoutdoors #blackmenhike #blackgirlshike #wecoloroutside #takingupspaceoutdoors will introduce you to a whole new world of Black content creators that are passionate about nature, outdoor sports, and conservation. If you still need more variety in your feed, check out this article I wrote to help you diversify your feed on 22 Black Outdoor Instagram Accounts Inspiring People of Color to Get Outside.

Header photo: Courtesy of Abundant Life Adventure Club

Lauren Gay is the creator of The Misadventures of an Outdoorsy Diva blog and the Outdoorsy Diva podcast, where she provides a unique perspective on all things adventure, travel, and being outdoors as a black millennial woman.

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