ABA Statement on Black Birders Week and Anti-Racism Efforts
June 9, 2020
Like so many in the birding community, American Birding Association staff and board were inspired by last week’s #BlackBirdersWeek, and greatly appreciate the effort to not only celebrate Black faces and voices in birding, but to draw attention to the unique difficulties birding can pose to Black people in terms of accessibility, safety, and community.
We know that birding is not immune to the impact of systemic racism and violence that has claimed the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other Black people. The ABA condemns this racism and stands alongside the many protesters around the world working to eradicate it.
We know that simply asking Black birders to engage with birding without also taking steps as an organization and as individuals to actively oppose racism and violence against Black people means asking them to expose themselves to potential harm while in the field.
And we know that the birding community, like those of most outdoor hobbies, is overwhelmingly white, and in order to most effectively advocate for birding we need to advocate for Black birders. We need to engage Black voices to build a diverse coalition for birds and birding where everyone is welcome and everyone’s contributions are valued.
To that end, the American Birding Association resolves to do the following.
- We resolve to undertake a period of organizational self-reflection–to examine past efforts that have not been as successful as hoped, and to establish new initiatives that will accomplish our goals of equity and inclusivity in the birding community. We will report on these efforts and announce a timetable by the end of June 2020.
- We resolve to commit to internal anti-racism work with ABA staff and board to examine our own implicit biases, to create opportunities for learning and discussion, and to seek outside experts to provide feedback so that any new initiatives are not inadvertently harming or creating unsafe spaces for BIPOC birders.
- We resolve to immediately redouble our efforts to seek out and incorporate the voices of more Black birders in our established media outlets. We particularly thank the organizers of Black Birders Week for bringing so many exceptional voices to our attention.
- We resolve to explore ways to offer inexpensive or free memberships to the American Birding Association to birders who, in the past, may have felt excluded from contributing to our community.
Black lives matter and Black birders matter. And as any birder knows, the best dawn choruses have many voices. We believe acting on these resolutions is imperative and we are ready to increase our efforts to grow our organization and our membership so that the voices in birding will continue to be varied, robust, and welcoming to all who enjoy and protect wild birds.
I’ve birded my entire adult life. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve encountered off leash dogs in areas where their not allowed. While I condemn Ms. Cooper’s action which could have put Mr. Cooper into harm’s way, I question Mr. Cooper’s actions too. If I understand it correctly, Mr. Cooper tried to get custody of Ms. Cooper’s dog. I do not know what was said between the two of them before the camera rolled, but I don’t think Mr. Cooper should have attempted to take hold of her pet. He should have called the authorities. Had he tried… Read more »
This is much bigger than the Christian Cooper incident.
Mike you just employed a classic example of ‘blaming the victim’. That tactic is used all the time. Mr Cooper is not in any way responsible for Amy’s racist threat to tell the police that “an African-American man is threatening my life” Nope.
Thank you for this great post! We will hold you to account for the commitments you listed! Thank you for being brave enough to publish real commitments to validate the real problem of systemic racism even in the birding community it means a lot to birders of colour like myself.