Date: 6/22/20 10:31 am
From: Thomas M Leschine <tml...>
Subject: [Tweeters] Birding and "Black Lives Matter"
Dear Tweets,
Recent events and a few related related Tweeters posts remind me that we do not pursue our passion for birding in isolation from other, broader forces that shape society. On Memorial Day, New York City birder Chris Cooper had his infamous Central Park encounter, the same day that George Floyd was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis. Many of us in the birding community found ourselves confronting more directly than ever the question, what does it mean to be a birder—white vs. person of color or other difference that may influence how some others view us. Should any of these distinctions even matter? Yet clearly, they do.

I don’t know whether or not Tweeters is the right forum for discussion of such questions; like you, I bet, I come to Tweeters mostly because I want to know where the birds are. I’m just asking, as was asked in one of those earlier posts, where such discussion *should* take place.

I don’t believe we as a community can afford to say, “Not our business”, if ever we could. We should care both about birds and the environmental quality that supports them. Conservation efforts and “environmental justice” are increasingly viewed as needing to go down the road together if either is ultimately to succeed. Weakened environmental rules likely affect communities of color disproportionately, even as more land and water become less hospitable to wildlife.

Discourse on Tweeters is remarkably well mannered, something all “Tweets” can be proud of (and thank the listserv monitors for). Occasionally the topic turns to lost birding opportunity—that new road closure or that “No Trespassing” sign that didn’t used to be there. Conceptually at least, it’s not that big a leap to the topic of birding opportunity that is more available to some than to others by reason of skin color or other personal traits. As I said above, I’m not advocating that Tweeters specifically open up this way, but I am asking, as others have, where such a conversation should occur, as I believe it must.

If you have a response, please send it to me directly rather than to the full Tweeters list.

Tom Leschine
Seattle
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