Here’s a question for Black people. Do you enjoy mingling with the outdoors?
There seems to be this stigma that we do not like interacting with the outdoors, and by that I mean nature: the forest, fields, oceans, mountains, etc. And maybe for good reason, that’s where bad things happen to ous— Outside.
I know plenty of Black people who hate being outside and doing anything that gets their hands dirty, but I also know just as many who love the Great outdoors. For example, Full Circle, a team of all-Black climbers, became the first team of Black climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
Baratunde Thurston, a comedian, writer, former Daily Show producer and activist came to The Root office in New York City to talk about his new TV show America Outdoors With Baratunde Thurston, which is set to premiere on Tuesday, July 5 at 8 p.m. ET on PBS.
When asked, “How does one be Black and outdoorsy?” his answer was genius.
“I think Black people have a very beautiful and complicated relationship with the outdoors,” said Thurston. “The outdoors is where we were forced to work, where we were tortured, where we were murdered, our blood is in the soil. So many of us do not want to return to the scene of the crime. Then, throughout our history, when we start opening up the outdoors, whether it’s community pools or parks, we are denied access, often violently. We were lynched out there. There’s a lot tied up in that.”
And yet, he says we also found our freedom through the outdoors.
“From the beginning, we brought techniques of farming because we knew the outdoors to create American food. We created the Underground Railroad in the outdoors. And we are finding a level of joy and community and liberation through a connection with nature that everyone needs”
On his new show, he’s able to explore some of our history with the outdoors.
“And that was just a joy for me to be like on a surfboard, with black people on a trail with Black people running with Black people towards something that is more integrated within ourselves.”