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Who Is Responsible for Normalizing Black Bodies in White Spaces?

Roslynn Arnesia Powell


The presence of African Americans in outdoor recreation spaces and subsequentlyin outdoor recreation activities is not seen as normal, thus leading to them being under constant surveillance in these spaces and during these activities. Thisover-surveillance directly leads to the endangerment of Black bodies, includingdeath, as in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery on February 23, 2020. Outdoor recreation spaces and activities are both historically and currently branded as white,and when Black people participate, they are often viewed as a novelty or threat bytheir white counterparts. This de jure and de facto police state makes the outdoorsgenerally unwelcoming and unsafe for people of color. This situation has been traditionally framed as a “black problem” that African Americans have to negotiatewith little to no help from the wider society in the form of structural or societalchange. It is time for practitioners, white recreationists, and recreation scholarsto step up and actively take responsibility for normalizing Black bodies in whitespaces.

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Racial discrimination; outdoor recreation; diversity in recreation; race; public space; parks

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