After a white woman called police on a black man birding in New York City, a group of black scientists got together to create Black Birder Week. Last Friday morning, four days after a video of a racist incident in New York’s Central Park swept across the internet, birder Corina Newsome posted a video to Twitter. Black contemporary artist Kerry James Marshall reflected on that possibility in The New York Times this week. "Most of my friends are afraid of being harassed or assaulted if they were to leave the city to take in nature, because you hardly ever see Black people camping and enjoying outdoors. The white ibis. Homogeneity sets organisms and systems up for failure. Troutman has worked with marine endangered species in Corpus Christi, Texas, for the National Park Service and for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, among other roles. So the quest for more representation, for more seats at the table in places of learning and science, in research and government, isn't just about following a passion. In response, scientists and nature enthusiasts introduced themselves to one another, discussed their research, and shared photos from outdoor adventures. NJ: Black Birders Week to me was created to show people that Black people in nature exist, that we love bird watching and STEM. Newsome announced the event on Twitter on Friday, as well as unveiling a new Twitter account, @BlackAFinSTEM, to unite and build a community of Black scientists. Dreamers and LGBTQIA+ people, congratulations on the Supreme Court victories this week. There is a huge need for this conversation, she says. Audubon celebrates diversity and condemns racism. On Sunday, the #BlackInNature hashtag encouraged Black nature enthusiasts to post pictures and videos of themselves getting outdoors and to talk about their experiences outside. Our email newsletter shares the latest programs and initiatives. It's in protecting species and environments the world can't afford to lose, like Newsome and James do. Visit your local Audubon center, join a chapter, or help save birds with your state program. If everyone has had the same life experiences, you're less likely to have the solution to a problem.". I began connecting with people all over the world. On Tuesday is the #AskABlackBirder event, with a two-hour Q&A with Black birders on Twitter from 7pm to 9 pm ET, followed up with the #BirdingWhileBlack livestream discussions on Thursday, from 12pm-1:30pm ET and from 7pm-8:30pm ET. Black Birders Week: An Ode to Our Allies. He grew up outside of Atlanta searching for salamanders in the stream that ran through his backyard. Organizers have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of joy and support online already. Dr. J. All of this experience, and Troutman says people have still occasionally looked at him with doubt. The National Audubon Society had live-streamed two panels, featuring Newsome, Cooper, and other distinguished birders, to its 1.5 million followers. (Read Audubon’s statement on the incident here .) A group of Black scientists, birders, and outdoor explorers organized the campaign to celebrate Black people in the outdoors and birders specifically. But even then, it didn't occur to him that the life he would eventually have -- one filled with turtle rescues and birds of prey and a wealth of wildlife knowledge -- was possible. The name of our Audubon chapter should not add to that list of prejudices. Think about the biological importance of diversity at any level, genetic all the way up to whole ecosystems, she explains. Hello everyone! Let me add myself to the mix. By demonstrating that Black people enjoy these spaces too, Newsome and her collaborators hope to encourage emerging birders and scientists to pursue their passions. Bald Eagle. Katherine Arntzen/Georgia Southern University, Last Friday morning, four days after a video of a, With this speech, Newsome, a biology graduate student at Georgia Southern University who studies Seaside Sparrows, announced the first ever Black Birders Week. In their advocacy work, it's about straightening the path for those who want to follow joyfully in their footsteps. They were not only admiring my bird photography but also offering solidarity in the Black Lives Matter Movement. Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman, center, with former Chair of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen. It's hard to not be cynical when I know that an environmental regulation that was saving lives yesterday can be overturned today. Tell Congress to stop efforts to strip away critical protections in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. One new Instagram follower shared my page in her story, stating how her feed was much better once she began diversifying it. It's just where my mind placed it in the understanding of my world.". The second goal is to educate the birding and broader outdoor-loving community about the challenges Black birders specifically face. Overwhelmed and Understaffed, Our National Wildlife Refuges Need Help. "It's very easy to lose that when an interaction with a police officer can be the last description for the rest of my life. Corina Newsome calls it a gateway bird, the one special species that sets an avian enthusiast on a lifetime course of discovery and environmental passion. “We didn’t pick our moment, but we are going to rise to the occasion,” James says. Along the way, she also became a passionate bird enthusiast and advocate for children from underprivileged backgrounds who want to pursue their interests in animals and nature. Each week we feature a different bird-focused presenter followed by a connection to National Audubon Society's broader work. Black Birders Week co-organizer Tykee James is government affairs coordinator at the National Audubon Society and leads birding walks for congressional staffers. In just a couple of days, more than 30 people organized Black Birders Week via text, Zoom, shared documents, and volunteered time. Within days, the group had 30,000 followers on Twitter. By Jillian Mock Reporter, Audubon Magazine. Birders who aren’t Black can support the initiative by spreading the word, learning from the livestream, and retweeting the shared stories and images. They don't talk about Black ranchers.". Hers was the blue jay. "But what does that mean if I don't see anybody who looks like me, who says, 'Hey, you can be a scientist like me,' who can tell you, 'You don't have to be limited to what your parents or neighborhood say you need to be. After a racist encounter in the field, a birder reflects on the disturbing incident and the community that helped lift him back up. What happened to Christian Cooper in Central Park could easily deter a young Black person interested in natural science and conservation from pursing those interests, she says. During this dark time, James says the joy and knowledge of Black birders is a reminder that, while it is very present, the Black experience isn't just rooted in trauma. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.”. Photo: Howard Arndt/Audubon Photography Awards, Great Egret. Black Birders Week opened up a new network for me. The resulting video shows Amy Cooper warning she is going to tell police that “there’s an African American man threatening my life,” then calling 911 and again emphasizing the birder’s race. Sparked by a racist incident last week in Central Park, the new initiative aims to boost recognition and representation of Black people enjoying and studying the natural world. "You can tell me that something's a cool thing," Troutman says. It's about the very well being of Black and brown people now, and all people of future generations. It started with the help of two Philadelphia women. Newsome says one of the chat members suggested a social media push to highlight Black birders in response to the Central Park incident, which started when Christian Cooper, an avid birdwatcher who is Black, asked a white woman to put her dog on a leash as required by park rules. For Tykee James, it was the belted kingfisher. , to unite and build a community of Black scientists. “For far too long, Black people in the United States have been shown that outdoor exploration activities are not for us,” she said, standing before a backdrop of lush spring foliage. The week ends on Friday with #BlackWomenWhoBird, a final call to build community on Twitter and beyond around birding. For some observers, it may seem like an initiative like Black Birders Week is meant solely for the benefit of Black naturalists and those who enjoy their work. … Can This Critically Endangered Bird Survive Australia's New Climate Reality? “We can’t even organize for one Black trauma before another one happens,” the group tweeted on Sunday, explaining that while the Central Park incident inspired Black Birders Week, it’s also a response to the recent killings of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. And look at what happens to someone like. Corina Newsome had a similar experience. New Jersey Audubon DEIJ initiatives work to ensure that we are making our programs accessible and welcoming to all New Jersey residents and visitors, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or socio-economic status. '", Environmental advocate and podcast host Tykee James. Legal Notices Privacy Policy Contact Us. “The Black experience is not one of only trauma; it is one of joy and it is one of pride and it is one of strength.”. The organizers, a group of Black scientists, nature lovers, and friends, say this event will be the first of many—a springboard to shape a more diverse future for birding, conservation, and the natural sciences. The week of events, organized by a group of STEM professionals and students, increased the visibility of Black birders, who face unique challenges and dangers when … When the woman, Amy Cooper, declined, Christian Cooper began filming. We have a lot of work to do to make the bird conservation community more inclusive, but last week we took one small step by promoting and participating in Black Birders Week. National Audubon Society: "‘Black Birders Week’ Promotes Diversity and Takes on Racism in the Outdoors " 5/29/2020 When asked what his favorite bird is, Alex Troutman paused. I've been a birder for 13 years, led a youth birding team for 7 years and designed 2 birding table-top games over the years. A lot has happened recently, including police brutality against Black people, its attempted use as a weapon against Christian Cooper, a long-time Central Park fixture who is a Black birder, … Newsome has said that Black Birders Week has two main goals, beyond interrupting stereotypes about who belongs in the outdoors. They're also promoting human diversity in birding and conservation. Today is June 4, 2020. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and the dozens of people in the group hail from all different kinds of disciplines within that sphere. This visibility is a master key that can open all kinds of doors for Black scientists to succeed, and for the world to benefit from their success. The northern crested caracara. The Audubon Society, the National Park Service and countless other organizations have boosted their work, introducing social media to a whole realm of cool birds and new discoveries -- and new faces that challenge and change science stereotypes. There is a huge need for this conversation, she says. "It's not only good for the people that have historically been excluded, it's good for the field as well," says Newsome. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all of the events are taking place virtually. The week had been a huge success. While getting people hooked on birds is definitely a goal of Black Birders Week, there's a lot more at stake. The National Audubon Society is supporting the initiative by co-hosting the #BirdingWhileBlack livestream conversation on Facebook on Thursday at 5pm MT, 7 pm ET. , or person of color, in a group of bird or nature enthusiasts. It led into Black Birder’s Week.” The week has included black birders posting photos of themselves in nature, a Twitter chat called “Ask a black birder,” a day to highlight female birders, and a live discussion called “Birding While Black” on Facebook, hosted by the National Audubon Society. "A migratory bird, a familiar bird you see in the garden. Well, we’ve decided to change that narrative.”. Live-streamed discussions took place for a week in early June in which participants highlighted their joy of birding, … Donations are encouraged and can be made online: Donate Today! We encourage you to follow the hashtags on social media and amplify Black voices throughout … Just last week, on May 25, Cooper’s right to safely go birding in public was threatened—one of a recent string of incidents that exposed inequalities that Black people face in America. Type in your search and hit Enter on desktop or hit Go on mobile device. My name is Sean and I'm a graduate student researching #seabird foraging behavior. Through education and open dialogue, “people in the community who are white can hold each other accountable to make sure these spaces are not hostile to Black people,” Newsome says. “Diversity is important for the robustness of any community trying to do anything,” she says. shows Amy Cooper warning she is going to tell police that “there’s an African American man threatening my life,” then calling 911 and again emphasizing the birder’s race. The event American Bird Conservancy: "#BlackBirdersWeek Aims To Raise Awareness, Grow Community " 6/1 /2020. She grew up in Philadelphia, loving nature and animals, and assuming that, among the Steve Irwins and Jeff Corwins of the world, the only professional path for someone like her was to become a veterinarian. Furthermore, the series drew attention to several Black birders and naturalists, including Birds of North America''s host Jason Ward, wildlife biologist and author J. "People don't talk about the buffalo soldiers who were among the first to care for national parks. That connection between people and place also affects people's wellbeing -- the water they drink, the air they breathe. ... a podcast host and a coordinator of government affairs for the National Audubon Society. Let us send you the latest in bird and conservation news. They also hope it leads to job opportunities for all of the talented people participating. "There is no environmental organization that can claim to advocate for a better future without understanding that white supremacy is a direct threat to that future, and that environment.". “Whether it be the way the media chooses to present who is the ‘outdoorsy’ type, or the racism Black people experience when we do explore the outdoors, as we saw recently in Central Park. Starting Sunday and running through this Friday, Black Birders Week includes five days of virtual events (none are scheduled for Wednesday), with each day featuring its own theme and Twitter hashtag, allowing participants to connect with one another, post pictures, and ask questions from anywhere in the world. Are the Trump Administration's Environmental Rollbacks Built to Last? "The importance is normalizing the fact that Black people exist in the birding and natural sciences community," says. And in a field where Black people aren't visible or are excluded, mentorship is everything. “From a social media standpoint, it has been absolutely breathtaking and just so remarkable to see the amount of Black faces, to see the regional diversity of Black joy across the world—not just the country even or the continent or hemisphere, but the world,” says Tykee James, government affairs coordinator for the National Audubon Society and a Black Birders Week co-founder. on Sunday, explaining that while the Central Park incident inspired Black Birders Week, it’s also a response to the recent killings of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. Through these events and others, the series highlighted research carried out by Black birders, the happiness they find in nature, the racism experienced, and the importance of inclusivity in the outdoors. While getting people hooked on birds is definitely a goal of Black Birders Week, there's a lot more at stake. Last week was the first-ever Black Birders Week. The group has three goals that don’t stop after the week of activism, says Tykee James, a Black Birders Week organizer and the National Audubon Society’s government affairs coordinator. "Black Birders Week has highlighted the beautiful diversity of the birding community, but also the racism Black birders face when it comes to enjoying the birds we all love. As demonstrations escalated on Sunday and images of pain and outrage filled many social media feeds, those following #BlackBirdersWeek also saw expressions of something more hopeful. "It's very easy for me to get cynical with a bunch of friends and stamp out or overlook or minimize any progress we've had or any momentum that we've gained," says James. When the woman, Amy Cooper, declined, Christian Cooper began filming. The organizers, a group of Black scientists, nature lovers, and friends, say this … Before her current work in avian conservation, Newsome did become a zookeeper. Opoku-Agyeman didn't know much about birding before she started organizing Black Birders Week with other #BlackAFinSTEM members. “That could easily have been any one of us,” she says. The organizers of Black Birders Week were honored with New Jersey Audubon’s highest honor during the society’s virtual Cape May Fall Festival. Black birders encounter. #BlackBirdersWeek, which began on May 31, has been a week-long event aimed to amplify Black people in every field and their experiences while outdoors. With this speech, Newsome, a biology graduate student at Georgia Southern University who studies Seaside Sparrows, announced the first ever Black Birders Week. Corina Newsome birding along the Savannah River in Georgia. #blackbirder #blackinnature #blackbirdersweek pic.twitter.com/C3xRdTaWD7, Decided to create a Twitter account today to take part in #BlackBirdersWeek and show me being #BlackInNature. Prejudice might drive police or private property owners to be suspicious of or antagonistic toward Black scientists doing field work in normal clothes, putting them in danger, she says. The hit TV show “Atlanta” offers a reminder that one black person's paradise can be another one's terror. He and his brothers, father and uncle would go fishing on the weekends. Pumpkin Bird Feeder Makes a Happy Harvest For Birds, To Help Birds This Winter, Go Easy on Fall Yard Work, Learn to Identify Five Owls by Their Calls, The Woods Are My Safe Haven—But That's Not True for Everyone. After the Christian Cooper incident, Ward helped organize an online series of events called Black Birders Week. "When I was working for the Fish and Wildlife Service, even wearing a uniform, guests would question why I was there. McGee conducts research near the U.S.-Mexico border and worries about encountering U.S. Border Patrol on her own while searching for lizards. 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