Yesterday Backcountry Hunters & Anglers posted a black screen on our Instagram page to listen and in recognition of the pain, uncertainty and outrage felt in communities across North America and the world. We did so to confirm profound changes are necessary. Racism is real and pervasive.
We don’t have all the answers; in fact I don’t know if we have any of the answers but we have a base to build on. The mission of BHA is centered on the notion that no matter the color of your skin, political affiliation, religion, financial standing, gender or sexual identity, we are all entitled to equal access of our public lands and waters. These places provide solitude, adventure and solace for anyone who seeks them. The truth is, not all of us are able to find refuge in our wild places. From our local parks and open spaces to the vast wilderness lands of the West, we need to do more to break down barriers that prevent others from finding meaningful connection in the outdoors.
I’m thankful for the work that BHA has done to be inclusive and open, but I understand that we can do more. I’m proud that our organization adopted a strategic plan in January that recognizes our need to grow, learn and work harder toward equality on public lands and beyond. As part of that strategic plan we are committed to substantive conversations and investments in evolving as an organization. For example, we have dedicated funding to undergo justice, equity, diversity and inclusion training with a long-term implementation plan that includes all facets of BHA from our North American Board of Directors, to our chapter leaders and staff on the front edges of our work.
We will listen. We will learn. We will seek guidance and partnerships, especially from minority communities that we stand beside but need to work with in more meaningful ways. It’s critical to our mission, to the future of our society, and to the public lands and public waters that have the power to unite us.