How is it that for nearly 20 years I have lived near this park and was there for the first time this week? No sense dwelling too much on past mistakes, when we know better, we do better. That has been my guiding phrase lately.
This is 200 acres of forest, lake, and marsh that has many paths, both paved and earth-surfaced. A beautiful “Discovery Center” has modern restrooms, an art gallery, outdoor classroom spaces, covered picnic area, free parking, and a historical restoration of a 19th century schoolhouse. Other Oakdale parks are nearby. I am sure it would be possible to create a longer suburban hiking route that would have minimal road-walking. On Friday I enjoyed just wandering the loop trails, talking with my friend, and soaking up the spring sunshine.
Our walk was 4.9 miles (7.8 km). We did go on some sections twice, but we completely missed the whole southern loop! A return trip will be required! One of our discussion topics was racial justice. Later I was thinking about the idea of focusing on what each of us can do in the places where we already are. How can I use this blog to further the cause of racial justice? Would it be helpful to include what I notice regarding race when I am out walking? We probably saw about 20 other people on this walk. 2 were Latinas and the rest were White people. Later when I went back out on the trail to draw after my friend left, there were 2 Asian Americans and about 10 more White people. Thinking back, I can’t say if anything I saw would indicate that Black people would be welcome or not welcome here. Lately I have seen more social media posts about People of Color getting outdoors to reclaim that space and I want to support that. I imagine it would be scary to enter spaces that have been mostly White in the past and it might be helpful to know something about the racial makeup of the users of a trail before going there yourself if you are a Person of Color. Am I right in thinking this? Is there a better way to right past wrongs on this topic?
Typing that just now, I had so much hesitation. Should I use the term Asian? Should I use the term Latina? Should I capitalize White? Should I say White bodied people? Should I even bring this up? One thing I decided is that saying nothing because I am afraid of making a mistake is the wrong decision. If someone corrects me, I will be grateful for the chance to learn.