Mickey Fearn was named the National Park Service Deputy Director for Communications and Community Assistance because the Park Service decided that it needed to reach out to minorities who weren’t visiting national parks often enough. Or as the NPS tactfully put it, the “revised title for the deputy position emphasizes a new focus on specific outreach and communications to groups currently underrepresented in parks.”
How a group can be underrepresented in parks is unclear. Parks are big spaces full of trees, waterfalls and bears. Bears might be underrepresented in parks because they live there. People can be underrepresented in the park service, but not in parks.
Fearn, appointed to get black people to visit national parks, had the background you would expect from a race card user, a bunch of community groups and eventually manager of the City of Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative. With that resume, Fearn began talking the usual “our stories” narrative in which the lack of black visitors to national parks emphasizes some deep national flaw of racism.
Mr. Fearn also stated that it is morally wrong to take inner-city kids out and show them the grandeur of nature and then return them to the city without giving them any tools for improving their own neighborhood.
I guess they can plant redwoods in their own neighborhood? I don’t know. The NPS is supposed to focus on parks. Not urban renewal. We already have a bunch of organizations that do urban renewal.
Fearn’s contribution in his new role was to claim that he hated nature because of racial violence in the South. And then he visited Canada and expanded his BLACK PEOPLE HATE YELLOWSTONE BECAUSE OF RACISM theory.
Mickey Fearn says the reasons run deeper than money and geography. He’s worked in American parks for 46 years and is Saturday’s keynote speaker.
Here is one unexpected reason: The wilderness evokes some grisly images from American history — black slaves being hanged and lynched by their masters.
“African American people feel safe in cities and less safe in nature,” says Fearn, who is black. “Preserving wild places is a white concept, going back to Rome.”
So if preserving wild places is a white concept, then clearly national parks are just white privilege and need to be dismantled in a truly multicultural society.
Contending that black people aren’t visiting national parks because of slavery memories doesn’t make much sense at this latter date. And it doesn’t appear that other minorities are visiting national parks either. Asians probably don’t have memories of lynched in the wilderness. (Was anyone being lynched in the wilderness at all?)
And Canada, where Fearn had visited, didn’t have major slave issues, but also has low utilization rates by minorities. So yes, it’s clearly slavery.