20 Jun 2016

Racial Quotas for Parks

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John Hinderaker reports on the latest crusade for racial equity in the Twin Cities:

The Metropolitan Council never saw any human behavior it didn’t want to change. It wants to change the way we get from one place to another, where we live, and where we work. It also isn’t happy with the way we use Twin Cities parks. The Star Tribune headlines: “Racially equitable use of parks is the goal, with big dollars at stake.”

What, exactly, is “racially equitable use of parks”? Are members of some races barred from the region’s parks? Of course not.

    A politically charged push is taking shape, with millions of dollars at stake, to break down barriers that are making Twin Cities parks and trails feel to some like white people’s preserves.

Barriers? What barriers? There are no barriers, actually. The “problem” is that a higher percentage of whites than minorities make use of metro area parks and trails.

    The main evidence of park disparities in the Twin Cities metro area remains a 2008 survey of the racial and ethnic makeup of visitors to major regional parks and trails, such as the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis or St. Paul’s Como Park.

The “Chain of Lakes” is simply a set of walking and bicycle paths that go around, and connect, Minneapolis’s major lakes: Calhoun, Harriet, Isles and Cedar. Anyone who wants to walk, or run, or bicycle or rollerblade around any of these lakes is welcome to do so. There is nothing stopping him or her.

    While blacks make up nearly 7 percent of the metro area’s population, they account for less than 3 percent of regional park and trail users. Percentages for Hispanics look much the same.

Whether a person spends time in parks or on walking or bicycle trails is entirely a matter of choice. No one makes you throw a frisbee or have a picnic in a park, and no one stops you if you choose to do so. Has the Metropolitan Council noticed that there are racial “disparities” with regard to nearly everything? Whether it is going to the opera, attending a soccer game, fishing, or sitting outside to watch a fireworks display, there is no activity that people engage in in equal racial proportions. Are these all problems that need to be fixed by an ever more intrusive government?

What exactly does the Met Council intend to do to encourage or compel more minority residents (or, I guess, fewer whites) to use the region’s parks and trails? The Strib never answers that obvious question. …


This alleged disparity of usage problem is not confined to Minneapolis-St.Paul. Last year, the New York Times was demanding special initiatives to get minorities visiting National Parks.

The national parks attracted a record 292.8 million visitors in 2014, but a vast majority were white and aging. The most recent survey commissioned by the park service on visitation, released in 2011, found that 22 percent of visitors were minorities, though they make up some 37 percent of the population.

This suggests an alarming disconnect. The Census Bureau projects that the country will have a majority nonwhite population by 2044. If that new majority has little or no relationship with the outdoors, then the future of the nation’s parks, and the retail and nonprofit ecosystem that surrounds them, will be in trouble.

Jeff Cheatham grew up in southeast Seattle, and still lives in Mount Rainier’s shadow. Yet, he said of Mount Rainier and other national parks, “I’ve never been, and never thought about going.” A 29-year-old African-American writer, Mr. Cheatham said he didn’t even know what a national park was, or what he would be likely to find at one. “As far as I know, it’s a big field of grass,” he said.

A neighbor, Carla DeRise, has been to Mount Rainier and other parks, and is game to go again. She just can’t get any of her friends to come along. They are worried about unfriendly white people, hungry critters and insects, and unforgiving landscapes, said Ms. DeRise, 51, an African-American. So she mainly hikes alone, albeit with some anxiety. “I don’t have a weapon,” she quipped. “Yet.”

I also live in one of the Rainier neighborhoods, close to where I grew up, the son of a Japanese mother. I met my oldest friend in the Boy Scouts, an African-American from a family that, like mine, frequented the parks. In college, he and I led outings for minority student groups.

There was always nervous banter as we cruised through small rural towns on our way to a park. And there were jokes about finding a “Whites Only” sign at the entrance to our destination or the perils of being lynched or attacked while collecting firewood after the sun went down. Our cultural history taught us what to expect. …

We need to demolish the notion that the national parks and the rest of nature are an exclusive club where minorities are unwelcome.

Coercive egalitarianism inevitable finds “problems,” i.e. targets of opportunity for coercive intervention essentially everywhere.

7 Feedbacks on "Racial Quotas for Parks"


“They are worried about unfriendly white people (on Mt. Rainier).” Funniest thing I’ve heard in days. Guess the Park Service needs to create some Safe Spaces. We can probably keep the white people out, but I don’t know about the bears.

It’s astounding what you can learn about guns and parks from people who don’t use them.


What exactly are they going to do to make sure the “right” number of different races use the parks? Have an attendant close the parks to whites after a certain number have entered? Drag Somalians out of their homes and bus them to a park? Wait . . . Bussing! Why didn’t I think of that?


I never see minorities camping either. We’ve camped all over the state and then some… it must be white privelege to pee behind a tree and sleep on the ground.


As Yogi Berra said, (or maybe did not say), “If people don’t want to come to the ball park, how you gonna stop ’em?”


I’m a retired Minnesota state park ranger. I applaud efforts to attract racial minorities to the outdoors and outdoor recreation activities. In my experience (37 years) blacks, Asians in our state parks are disproportionately low. This is unfortunate. We all benefit from experiencing the outdoors, be it camping, hiking,fishing, hunting, snowshoeing, observing and learning from nature or even just picnicking.
And we benefit collectively as a nation.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Any relation to the land, the habit of tilling it, or mining it or even hunting on it, generates the feeling of patriotism.”


Or we could look at what they are really saying:

“Why can’t you people be more like White people?”

You can frame it as inequality, but it is a choice, a free choice of a person who has liberty. So questioning why they aren’t visiting as much as White people is essentially asking why they aren’t culturally White.

Dangerous Dean

If this was simply a case of “oh my! How do we get more minorities to go to parks?!?!” then it wouldn’t be a problem. But the scary part is government taking tax money to try to either discourage whites from coming, encourage minorities, or most likely do both. I’ve been to lots of square dances. Never saw any minorities there (no Goths or Emos, now that I think about it, either). Should we say that no squaredance can happen without appropriate numbers of each subset of our population? If so, how long until we say that we need more whites at inner city basketball courts for nightly pickup games? Hey, if we are being inclusive, why stop?


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