For Tykee James, it was the belted kingfisher. Can This Critically Endangered Bird Survive Australia's New Climate Reality? After the Christian Cooper incident, Ward helped organize an online series of events called Black Birders Week. Corina Newsome had a similar experience. The hit TV show “Atlanta” offers a reminder that one black person's paradise can be another one's terror. "My work brings me so much joy," she says. In just a couple of days, more than 30 people organized Black Birders Week via text, Zoom, shared documents, and volunteered time. And, of course, the penguin. "Because that was the only Black person I saw working with animals.". A group of Black scientists, birders, and outdoor explorers organized the campaign to celebrate Black people in the outdoors and birders specifically. In response, Black birders, researchers, outdoor enthusiasts and others created #BlackBirdersWeek. Hello everyone! Overwhelmed and Understaffed, Our National Wildlife Refuges Need Help. “We can’t even organize for one Black trauma before another one happens,”. After a racist encounter in the field, a birder reflects on the disturbing incident and the community that helped lift him back up. While getting people hooked on birds is definitely a goal of Black Birders Week, there's a lot more at stake. “We all have this shared experience where we have to worry about going into the field,” says Earyn McGee, a herpetology Ph.D. student at the University of Arizona and Black Birders Week co-organizer. That connection between people and place also affects people's wellbeing -- the water they drink, the air they breathe. 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. 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. 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. Black Birders Week and the new Twitter group have three main goals, says Newsome. Opoku-Agyeman didn't know much about birding before she started organizing Black Birders Week with other #BlackAFinSTEM members. Organizers have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of joy and support online already. The. Not only did this week highlight the stereotype of birders we all have, but it also gave voice for folks to say, … In their advocacy work, it's about straightening the path for those who want to follow joyfully in their footsteps. The first is “to counter the narrative that the outdoors are not the place Black people should be,” she says. We protect birds and the places they need. "When you look at animal populations, you have to have, for instance, genetic diversity so that someone has an answer to a stressor that's to come. Audubon protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. My name is Sean and I'm a graduate student researching #seabird foraging behavior. 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. Newsome announced the event on Twitter on Friday, as well as unveiling a new Twitter account. We encourage you to follow the hashtags on social media and amplify Black voices throughout … And in a field where Black people aren't visible or are excluded, mentorship is everything. This Couple Has Been Working for 20 Years to Fix It. This week, we invite everyone to participate in the inaugural Black Birders Week, organized by a community of African American birders, scientists, and nature enthusiasts, including Tykee James, a former Audubon Pennsylvania/Alliance for Watershed Education Fellow who is now a member of National Audubon Society’s Government Relations team in Washington, DC. The idea for the event grew out of a group chat with more than 100 Black outdoor enthusiasts. Today is June 4, 2020. Are the Trump Administration's Environmental Rollbacks Built to Last? While getting people hooked on birds is definitely a goal of Black Birders Week, there's a lot more at stake. 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. They don't talk about Black ranchers.". It's the same if you have a group who are trying to solve a problem, whether you're a scientists or neighbors. 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. 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 … But as an economist, which is considered a STEM profession, she knows all about exclusivity, and the steps communities of color have taken to give new generations of STEM professionals a better chance at success. 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. 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. … 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. Dreamers and LGBTQIA+ people, congratulations on the Supreme Court victories this week. #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. “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. The week had been a huge success. By now, we hope you are familiar with the incident in Central Park that involved NY City Audubon Society board member Christian Cooper. Wildlife conservationist Corina Newsome and Tony, a Hyacinth Macaw. Sharing these images is a major catalyst for young would-be scientists, birders, and conservation leaders, according to Newsome. The event The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. Tykee James is the Government Affairs Coordinator for the National Audubon Society in Washington, DC, the gold standard for avian conservation and advocacy. 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. The National Parks Have a Diversity Problem. 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. "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. Donations are encouraged and can be made online: Donate Today! Let me add myself to the mix. One new Instagram follower shared my page in her story, stating how her feed was much better once she began diversifying it. Christian Cooper, a Black birder in New York City, The realities of being a black birdwatcher, they are also historically excluded from the academic and professional spaces, He also hosts a series of podcasts about nature and conservation, EPA proposes lead pipe rule changes after 20 years, but some advocates say it doesn't go far enough, One needs to look no further than Flint, Michigan, would coincide with one of the most painful racial episodes, 'My emotions were so raw': The people creating art to remember George Floyd. 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. I began connecting with people all over the world. Your support helps secure a future for birds at risk. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.”. They were not only admiring my bird photography but also offering solidarity in the Black Lives Matter Movement. “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.”. 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. Starting Sunday and running through this Friday, Black Birders Week includes. Dr. J. Why is there such an internalized stereotype that Black people aren't interested, or are somehow alien to, nature and the studies therein? While it would be wonderful to gather in person, the digital nature of the event allows more people to participate, says Newsome. 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. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all of the events are taking place virtually. In response, scientists and nature enthusiasts introduced themselves to one another, discussed their research, and shared photos from outdoor adventures. Bald Eagle. Visit your local Audubon center, join a chapter, or help save birds with your state program. Prejudice might drive police or private property owners to be suspicious of or antagonistic toward Black scientists doing field work in normal clothes, The second goal is to educate the birding and broader outdoor-loving community about the challenges Black birders specifically face. If you find joy in birds, you are part of Audubon’s family. 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. 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. The third goal is to encourage increased diversity in birding and conservation. I'm Chidi Paige. “I feel like it’s going to open a lot of people’s eyes, and I’m really excited about that.” Newsome will be in the field this week and plans to post lots of pictures of sparrows and all the other birds she encounters in Georgia’s marshes. The incident in Central Park this past May, in which Black birder Chris Cooper was threatened by a white woman after he asked her to leash her dog, has created shockwaves in the birding community, leading to Audubon-sponsored events like “Birding While Black” Zoom conversations and #BlackBirdersWeek, a week-long series of virtual events which aimed to amplify the voices of Black … The event was created as a response to the Central Park birdwatching incident and police brutality against Black Americans. 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. “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. Black Birders Week co-organizer Tykee James is government affairs coordinator at the National Audubon Society and leads birding walks for congressional staffers. There is a huge need for this conversation, she says. 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. 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. 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. It's what Troutman had, in a form, every time he went fishing with his family. The Border Wall Has Been 'Absolutely Devastating' for People and Wildlife, Rulers of the Upper Realm, Thunderbirds Are Powerful Native Spirits. Monday’s theme is the #PostABird Challenge, with a prompt to share a bird image or fact. "You can tell me that something's a cool thing," Troutman says. Black birders encounter. The first Black Birders Week started on Sunday amidst ongoing protests over police brutality and racial injustice sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis on Monday. "The importance is normalizing the fact that Black people exist in the birding and natural sciences community," says. Photo: Dick Dickinson/Audubon Photography Awards. 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. And look at what happens to someone like. Newsome has said that Black Birders Week has two main goals, beyond interrupting stereotypes about who belongs in the outdoors. Audubon did not found the National Audubon Society or any of the other organizations that bear his name; they were named after him posthumously beginning in the 1880s and 1890s because of his deep association with North American birds. Well, we’ve decided to change that narrative.”. 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, … McGee conducts research near the U.S.-Mexico border and worries about encountering U.S. Border Patrol on her own while searching for lizards. He grew up outside of Atlanta searching for salamanders in the stream that ran through his backyard. 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. Black Birders Week was a week-long series of online events, running from May 31st, 2020 to June 5th, 2020. "When I was working for the Fish and Wildlife Service, even wearing a uniform, guests would question why I was there. , 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. Troutman considers himself one of the lucky ones. Tell Congress to stop efforts to strip away critical protections in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. They also hope it leads to job opportunities for all of the talented people participating. I didn’t know there were so many of us. “We didn’t pick our moment, but we are going to rise to the occasion,” James says. It’s the least you can do. “The views expressed in user comments do not reflect the views of Audubon. “That could easily have been any one of us,” she says. The white ibis. It's just where my mind placed it in the understanding of my world.". So as protests roil, the country contends yet again with the deeply-entrenched racism that has led to Black scientists being excluded, to Black nature lovers feeling unsafe, to a minor disagreement in the park ending in a racially loaded call to police, and a Black man being killed on the Minneapolis pavement. "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.". 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. Black people aren't just excluded from natural spaces. (Read Audubon’s statement on the incident here .) 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. Her moment of realization came when a Black woman working at the Philadelphia Zoo invited her to go behind the scenes. When asked what his favorite bird is, Alex Troutman paused. “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. They are building awareness for the challenges black birders face in the field, including underrepresentation and overt racism. “Diversity is important for the robustness of any community trying to do anything,” she says. It's in protecting species and environments the world can't afford to lose, like Newsome and James do. Nature and the outdoors have historically been depicted as majority white spaces. In a now-infamous video exchange, a woman falsely accused Cooper of threatening violence and called the police after Cooper asked her to leash her dog. Audrey and Frank Peterman want any and everyone to get outside and get involved in the environmental movement. Let us send you the latest in bird and conservation news. I've learned so much and met many amazing people through my love for nature! When the woman, Amy Cooper, declined, Christian Cooper began filming. The name of our Audubon chapter should not add to that list of prejudices. Drew Lanham’s keynote address from the 2017 Audubon Convention; Jason Ward’s essay on how the woods can be perilous for Black people; Journalist Brentin Mock’s interview on birding as a Black man; National Audubon Society’s statement on the threats NYC Audubon board member Christian Cooper received Central Park’s Ramble NJ: Black Birders Week to me was created to show people that Black people in nature exist, that we love bird watching and STEM. "A migratory bird, a familiar bird you see in the garden. Wildlife biologist and educator Alex Troutman. Within days, a group of #BlackAFinSTEM organizers had come up with a whole week's worth of ways to support and encourage the Black birding community.
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