All of us here at Twitchy have pretty good memories, so when we saw ABC News reporting on the racial makeup of National Park visitors, we knew we’d heard it all before. And we had, back in 2016, when a new study found “disparities in who has access to parks and natural areas.” Of course that headline, from ThinkProgress, was totally bogus; anyone from any race had equal access to parks and natural areas — but did all races feel “welcome” in those areas?

Not only did “communities of color and low-income communities in the West have disproportionately less open space and natural areas nearby”; there was also the park rangers themselves. According to a coalition called the Centennial Initiative (named for the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service), “The Park Service law-enforcement vehicles look like those used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and uniforms have law enforcement connotations, both of which present a significant impediment to engaging all Americans.”

That’s right: Park ranger uniforms looked kind of like law enforcement uniforms and were scaring away minorities.

So fast-forward past the Obamas’ several trips as a family to national parks to drum up business to 2020, when again we’re hearing that attendance at national parks is mostly white.

“America’s national parks face existential crisis over race” is an actual ABC News headline. Existential crisis.

So what’s the excuse this time?

Still, racial profiling and stereotyping remain a big concern for [Indian-American Ambreen] Tariq and many people of color in the outdoors.

“When I was a child, I felt like an outsider trying to gain entrance, except now I am American and this is my country,” she said.

However, when she camps or hikes as an adult, Tariq said she still faces assumptions that she doesn’t belong and a sense of “imposter syndrome” and fear — even facing questions from rangers about whether she has followed park rules when she doesn’t see white visitors asked the same questions.

Advocates like [Danielle] Williams and Tariq say they hope the moment since George Floyd’s death in police custody brings attention to systemic racism in the outdoors as well as other parts of society and translates into a long-term change in attitudes and behavior.


If President Obama couldn’t entice minorities into national parks, who can? And he and his family really tried.

We thought it was that statue of Christopher Columbus in Columbus, Ohio that was responsible and thus taken down. But it goes deeper than that.