Black Outside: A Film Exploring Black People’s Relationships With Outdoor Spaces

Name: Zoie Bills
Majors: Communication Studies, Psychology
Advisors: Dr. Denise Bostdorff, Dr. Melissa Weller

Most Socially & Emotionally Connected Award

Spending time in nature is regarded as a great way to have fun and improve one’s mental or physical health. Black people are largely underrepresented in public parks and other outdoor spaces. My film explores the lack of Black presence in outdoor spaces in an effort to promote Black people’s usage of these places. I used interviews with students, environmental activists, and my own family in order to explore the scholarly, structural, cultural, and personal factors that impact Black folks’ engagement with the outdoors. The interviews revealed several major takeaways including that Black people have historical roots in outdoor spaces that are often undiscussed and that their absence from these spaces is often due to concerns for their safety. The thoughts expressed by my interviewees suggested that community building and an intersectional approach are both important to Black people’s experiences outdoors. The discussions also highlighted the importance of structural inequity being addressed concurrently alongside attitudinal changes in the Black community.
Keywords: Black people, racial equity, environmental justice, outdoor activity

Zoie will be online to field comments on April 16:
2-4pm EDT (PST: 11am-1pm, Africa/Europe: evening)

Posted in I.S. Symposium 2021, Independent Study.

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