Where Are the Black RVers? Why the Answer Remains Elusive

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My husband and I are full-time RVers. We are also an interracial couple with Black kids and Black grandkids and have noticed that the other Black campers are few and far between. Where are they? Why aren’t more Black families camping? Where are all the Black RVers?

While thinking about this, speaking with my husband, and talking with other Black RVers, I’ve come up with a few reasons (and debunked a few myths) as to why we see so few Black families at the campground with us.

Danger in the woods

A dark reason can be found in the historically horrific things that happened to Black folks in the woods. My husband grew up in Mississippi when lynchings were rampant and going into the woods at night was strictly forbidden. “The boogie man will get you” was code for “The KKK will get you.”

For a lot of people, the outdoors are a refreshing, meditative place to recharge and relax. For many Black people, though, it can be a place to be on guard and watch out. In other words, do anything but relax. A Black couple who recently camped near us said that while they really enjoy camping, they just don’t walk around the campground at night.

“The industry has not been welcoming”

Outdoor adventures have been in what are traditionally considered White spaces. National Parks, State Parks, County Parks, particularly in the Southeast, have restricted access or been blatantly not welcoming to Blacks. Even our beloved father of the National Park system, John Muir, called Blacks “lazy sambos” and native people “dirty, suspicious and dangerous.” Within the Sierra Club, founded by Muir, was a call-out for white supremacy and eugenics by its first leaders.

Even without taking the dubious history of the National Parks into account, the programs and interpretive exhibits of today are generally slanted toward White history and bias. It is a subtle form of, “This is about us and not about you.”

In her article “Why Black People Don’t Go Camping,” Nikki Brueggeman writes: “Black people do not have a natural aversion to camping or the great outdoors; we have a natural aversion to racism and abuse. We don’t go camping because we hate mosquitoes, need heated rooms, or hate campfires, we don’t go camping because the industry has not been welcoming.”

To read the full article by Nanci Dixon in, click here.

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