Why Don’t Minority Groups Like Adventures? We are all familiar with the term “achievement gap”. But according to journalist and mountaineer, James Edward Mills, there is also a “comparable divide” when it comes to minority groups and their participation in outdoor recreation. He appropriately terms this phenomenon as “the adventure gap.”
This disparity becomes more and more evident. Studies by the Outdoor Foundation conclusively prove that participation in outdoor recreation is much lower among Hispanic and African-American populations, compared to Caucasians across all ages and incomes. For Mills, this is largely due to the lasting effects of a history of racial discrimination and past legislation – not necessarily a conclusion based on scientific data.
The Adventure Gap and Minority Groups
Yet, as Mills’ new book, The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors, chronicles the incredible history of minority adventurers, his assertion certainly begins to hold weight. The book, which includes both story and social commentary, sheds more light on this growing issue. Within its pages, Mills acknowledges that overt racism is a thing of the past. Yet, despite this, social cues and unwritten expectations remain, dictating what people of color should or shouldn’t do.
According to Mills, however, the adventure gap is, in many ways, “defined by ourselves, in our own heads.” In fact, oftentimes kids tell Mills that participation in outdoor activities is ‘not what black people do.’
The Mystery of African-American and Hispanic Minority Groups
Even environmental and life sciences fields are lacking, in terms of African-American and Hispanic student participation. For many people who come from modest means, the environmental career path is a “dead-end industry”. That is not a viable option to support a family. Thus, the students who do go to college tend to look towards careers in medicine or business.
Unfortunately, like the achievement gap currently inflicting our nation, there currently isn’t enough focus on the adventure gap dilemma. Minority groups, however, will likely become the majority within the next few decades. As such, the future of the outdoor industry is directly correlated to the active participation of all groups.