#BlackBirdersWeek Sends the Message That Nature Is for Everyone

Biologist Amber Wendler is among those taking part in #BlackBirdersWeek. (@amberwendler / Twitter)Biologist Amber Wendler is among those taking part in #BlackBirdersWeek. (@amberwendler / Twitter)

Social media too often is the place where civility goes to die, but this week, there’s a space on Twitter that’s brimming with goodwill.

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A group of more than 30 African American birders, scientists and others created the inaugural #BlackBirdersWeek as a response to the racism encountered by birder Christian Cooper in New York City’s Central Park. The weeklong campaign is designed to encourage birding and other outdoor activities among people of color, to increase representation in science professions by amplifying the profile of participating naturalists, and to claim nature as a place for everyone.

In a video kicking off the week's activities on Sunday, co-founder Corina Newsome said: “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. Well we’ve decided to change that narrative. Help us to show the world, especially the next generation of young black birders and nature enthusiasts, that we exist, that they are welcome, and that this space belongs to them too.”

Contributions to the Twitter feed have been rolling in from around the world, with people posting photos aligned with the week’s daily assigned hashtags. Sunday’s #BlackInNature tag prompted images of people hiking, camping and kayaking, and scientists —  geologists, marine biologists, zoologists, paleontologists and ecologists — shared pictures from their fieldwork. 

Monday’s #PostABird tag drew spectacular photos of people’s favorite birds.

Tuesday evening, birders will respond to questions submitted via #AskABlackBirder. Thursday will feature a livestream discussion of #BirdingWhileBlack. And the week wraps up Friday with #BlackWomenWhoBird.

The messages have been supportive and frequently celebratory in tone, while also acknowledging obstacles, with many discovering a community they didn’t realize existed. 

“I didn’t know there were so many of us. This is tremendous,” one person posted. 

For a list of organizers, known collectively as @BlackAFinSTEM, click here.

We’ve collected a smattering of Tweets below, but be sure to check out the entire thread. 

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 | [email protected]

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