Date: 7/22/20 5:41 pm From: Joel Geier <clearwater...> Subject: [obol] Re: OBOL A Message from the OBA Board of Directors
Thank you to the Oregon Birding Association for taking this direction, to address a long-standing problem.
During my period of service on the OBA Board -- then called "Oregon Field Ornithologists," about 15 years back -- we commissioned a poll of members which was carried out by students at Linfield College. I recall being disturbed though not entirely surprised by the demographic numbers. We knew that Oregon is an overwhelmingly white state, for historical reasons, but OFO/OBA membership was even more skewed in that direction than the state population as a whole.
So I welcome this new recognition and determination to address this imbalance. But I still see a problem in the Board's focus.
The largest "minority" in Oregon are Latino/Hispanic people (for the sake of discussion let's leave aside the argument whether to use "Latino/Latina," "Latinx", or "Latinå"), who accounted for 12.4% of our population as of 2016. Count on your fingers how many Latinås we ever hear from here. But from my involvements with local schools, I know Latinå kids get just as excited about birds as any "Anglo" kids. When I go out on Vesper Sparrow monitoring sites, I talk to older Latinos in management roles who definitely pay attention to birds, and I've heard workers on field crews, perfectly mimicking the calls of birds that are out there with them while they work.
So while I don't want to discourage OBA from engaging with Blacks, Asians, Pacific Islanders and Native people here in Oregon, I'd like to remind everyone that 1 out of every 8 Oregonians belong to this other group that should also be engaged. My experience in a few limited interactions suggest that we're missing out on a lot of really good observers.