RELEASE: OAK Statement on Racism in the Outdoors


Thursday, May 28, 2020

Ian Brickey,

Washington, DC — The Outdoors Alliance for Kids’ Chair & Vice Chair Jackie Ostfeld and Paul Sanford released the following statement on racism in the outdoors following the incident in Central Park’s Ramble.

“No one should fear for their lives when stepping outside. Yet, far too often, we are reminded of the risks communities of color face when venturing outdoors. As a leader in expanding equitable access to nature for all children, youth, and families, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) cannot remain silent when black and brown individuals feel unsafe in the outdoors. Christian Cooper is the latest in an all too long list of black people prevented from the benefits of nature, due to overt acts of racism. His freedom to enjoy a public park was taken from him when a white woman threatened to call the police, weaponizing systemic racism. He was simply reminding her of the park rules to keep her dog on a leash. As white leaders in the outdoors movement, it is imperative that we speak out as allies, and raise the importance of acknowledging that ‘crying wolf’ can literally lead to another person’s death. Ahmaud Arbery lost his life at the hands of white men because he dared to go jogging.”

“Every person deserves the right to improve their mental and physical health through time outdoors. Whether for walking, jogging, hiking, or birding, OAK believes that our parks and public lands belong to all of us. It is more important than ever that OAK stand in solidarity with those demanding justice and expanding equitable access to the outdoors for all.” 


About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth, and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct, and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together more than 100 businesses and organizations to address the growing divide between children, youth, and the outdoors. 

Published by Jackie Ostfeld, OAK Chair

My name is Jackie Ostfeld. I am the co-founder and Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and the Director of Sierra Club's Outdoors for All campaign. I am an advocate for connecting kids with nature. Views are my own.

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