The panel discussion on "barriers to birding" was particularly compelling. As panelist Doug Gray put it, "I want my white birding friends to know that these barriers real."
Doug talked about how the best birding area in Indiana, Goose Pond, is also an historic stronghold of the KKK, and for a long time he didn't bird there. When he finally went to see his state-first Black-necked Stilt and later wrote about it, a friend asked, "Hey, did you feel safe there?"
Doug also talked about meeting a white female birder, seeing a Ruby-crowned Kinglet with her, helping her find a Golden-crowned Kinglet, and having a good time birding for about an hour. Then two white men were walking towards them on the trail, and Doug could sense the woman's discomfort, and she actually moved away from him until the men passed. She said something about some white men having a problem with a white woman being with a back man. Even when birding, and that happened right here at John Heinz NWR where this conference is happening!
Doug's attitude really impressed me - he said, simply, "You know, that messed with me a little bit."
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