Growing up – and still today – I have found being a black and biracial person in wildlife biology not only means I am constantly vigilant of how others perceive me — but also of how I see myself. BIPOCs (black people, indigenous peoples and other racial minorities in America) have long been subject to violence, oppression and discrimination in all aspects of life, and the outdoors is no exception. Many of our prized public spaces were created with the intent of displacing native peoples and excluding minorities from participating in outdoor recreation activities (Askew and Walls, 2019). This, plus other socioeconomic barriers and discriminatory hiring policies, means many BIPOCs have been prevented from pursuing careers in wildlife research and management.
New BIPOC Conservation Awareness Weeks
One of these was the first ever Black Birders Week (Mock, 2020) and Black Mammologists Week (Kobilinsky, 2020). Both of which aided in increasing awareness of the contributions of BIPOC researchers to the conservation field, as well as illuminating the issues we face and the steps we must take to make careers in wildlife science more accessible to aspiring minority scientists and conservationists. Some organizations like Mosaics in Science have offered internships to minority students specifically designed to advance their careers with federal agencies. Research departments at many universities are also encouraging people of underrepresented backgrounds to join their programs as graduate students.
Push forward and never stop doing what you love
Reyna Askew and Margaret A. Walls, 2019. Diversity in the Great Outdoors: Is Everyone Welcome in America’s Parks and Public Lands? Resources Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.resourcesmag.org/common-resources/diversity-in-the-great-outdoors-is-everyone-welcome-in-americas-parks-and-public-lands/
Cary Funk and Kim Parker, 2018. Diversity in the STEM workforce varies widely across jobs. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/01/09/diversity-in-the-stem-workforce-varies-widely-across-jobs/
Jillian Mock, 2020. ‘Black Birders Week’ Promotes Diversity and Takes on Racism in the Outdoors. National Audubon Society. Retrieved from https://www.audubon.org/news/black-birders-week-promotes-diversity-and-takes-racism-outdoors
Dana Kobilinsky, 2020. In Black Mammalogists Week, tackling inclusion in new taxa. The Wildlife Society. Retrieved from https://wildlife.org/in-black-mammalogists-week-tackling-inclusion-in-new-taxa/