People of color in the outdoors?

January 16, 2012

Faith Outdoors

With today being Martin Luther King Day, I gave some thought to how the holiday might connect with the outdoors.

One question I pondered was this: Why aren’t there more people of color enjoying the outdoors? I see surprisingly few African Americans at boat landings or out in the woods, and I have always wondered why that is. I can’t help but think that perhaps a long history of racism has something to do with it.

Fortunately, I have had the privilege of meeting two outdoors people of color. One lives right in my neighborhood — Fred Owusu. He is an avid fly fisherman and walks many a trout stream in Minnesota and Wisconsin with his fly rod. Sometimes, when he is recalling one of his adventures, I wonder if he has ever gotten strange looks from the local white folks.

I sure hope not. Fred is a gentleman and great outdoorsman and I think anyone who loves the outdoors would enjoy talking with Fred. His enthusiasm is contagious. He has invited me several times to go trout fishing with him, but I always have a scheduling conflict. You see, the best time of year is in May, when I’m in the woods chasing wild turkeys. Interestingly, one of the properties that I hunt in Wisconsin has a blue-ribbon trout stream running through it. Maybe Fred and I can team up this spring — he takes the trout, I  take the turkeys.

Another outdoors lover I met is Dorwatha Woods (see above photo), principal of Ascension School in north Minneapolis. We went fishing in the summer of 2009 for one of my outdoors columns and had a ball. Unfortunately, the outing was cut short when I sliced my thumb open and Dorwatha had to put down her fishing rod and pick up a bandage.

Fortunately, we did catch a few fish, which she was able to bring home. I have since given her more, plus some venison and even bear meat. She is such a good cook that I think she could make almost anything taste good. She has promised to make a batch of her smoked ribs for me and my family. I said I would let her do it on one condition — that she join us for the feast.

Here’s hoping and praying that more and more African-Americans — and all people of color — will enjoy our great outdoors!

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About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

View all posts by Dave Hrbacek