The racial and ethnic diversity of the United States has increased drastically over the past few decades. The Census Bureau predicts that this trend of increased diversity in America will continue into the future. However, you might not realize that America had any diversity at all if you based your perspective off of the average visitors to our nation’s National Parks. Almost 80% of visitors to National Parks are non-Hispanic white despite the fact that non-Hispanic whites make up 63% of the US population (in 2012). People of color are not visiting our nation’s most protected areas despite the fact that these areas are preserved for the enjoyment of all American. For example, African-Americans – which make up 13% of the United States population – only comprise 7% of all National Park visitors.
To highlight this issue, Amy Marquis, the editor of National Parks magazine recently directed a short film titled The Way Home: Returning to the National Parks. The documentary follows a church group of predominated African-American women on a visit to Yosemite National Park. The film was shown at various outdoor film festivals across North America and features Shelton Johnson, an African-American ranger in Yosemite National Park.
You can view The Way Home here.
To learn more about diversity in National Parks see this article from the National Park Conservation Association: Expanding the Palette