The myth of African American under-representation in nature tourism

Abstract

Although nature-based recreation areas are among the most popular tourism destinations in the U.S., African Americans are far less likely to visit them compared to White Americans. This paper offers a critical analysis of the phenomenon often labeled Black under-participation or under-representation (BUPR) in nature tourism. First, I use the concept of the White racial frame to unpack the White centrism and normalism embedded in the notion of BUPR and explain how it erases Black Americans’ historical relationship with nature while concealing centuries of Black exclusion in great outdoors. Second, I use the notion of the White-Savior Industry Complex to critique diversity initiatives of public park and tourism agencies, namely lack of strong sense of ownership in their historical Black exclusion. Finally, I make three recommendations for rectifying the enduring racial oppression in nature tourism.

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