The very first time Chrishette Jamean mentioned to me the project "Outdoor Afro," I thought it was a cool name. It took about a week but luckily the name was easy to remember, and I finally looked them up on Facebook.
I long to be outdoors and in nature and thought of myself as an oddball because of it. Most Black people where I'm from aren't into sleeping outside on purpose unless it's Black Friday, and they are super anxious to get a 50" flat screen. Most think that the woods is only a great place to get raped, hung or otherwise murdered, maybe even eaten by a ferocious animal. Our imaginations tend to run away from us, and other people's fears become our own when we don't have our own experiences. Much personal growth comes from venturing into an unknown part of yourself. Many young Black people have never been encouraged (partially because of resources) to learn the basics of nature in a first hand way. Most areas with a high population of Black Americans barely even have any green space near the epicenter.
Here is a video posted by John Griffith talking about Outdoor Afro and diversifying the great outdoors that I found interesting while I was browsing YouTube.
To me everyone should feel some sense of home outdoors. We are so disconnected from nature. And as Black people even more so. To find a whole community dedicated to filling this void was so refreshing. I'm not as alone in increasing awareness of nature to my community as I thought.
I want to implore my community to get outdoors and into nature so much so that the name of my outdoor product line is a command: "B.Out."
I was anxious to make contact with this like-minded group, so I posted a quick blurb introducing myself and the B.Out brand. I was received with positive energy by Wandi Stew almost immediately who invited me to demonstrate my gear at an upcoming Outdoor Afro event (which I plan to do and will blog about that experience after it happens). I also corresponded with the South Regional Leader, Ray Smith, who verified the enthusiasm of bringing the active, outdoor life to others. It felt like emailing a family member I'd never met. I've felt nothing but warmth from the group thus far; Stefan Moss, I look forward to meeting you one day! Same goes to you Heather Aristilde and Deborah McGlawn!
During my email exchange with Ray, he pointed me to the Outdoor Afro story:
After watching, I went from excited to full blown fan and supporter! These people are doing wonderful things that go way beyond introducing people to nature. They are supporting legislature and raising awareness to protect the nature itself. Visit the website http://outdoorafro.com/about/
I will continue to give them shouts out because I believe in what Outdoor Afro is doing. It's a nationwide organization, so no matter where you are there is a chance you can find other people who share your love of nature. And even if you don't love nature right now, this organization gives you a chance to discover it, experience new activities, and connect with others.
Check them out! I imagine that I will have plenty to say about this organization in the future!