Teresa Baker is an advocate for diversity and equity in the outdoor industry. She's the founder of the African American National Park Event, which provides communities across the country with opportunities to participate in events that speak to culture, heritage, and lifestyle. Through her work, she helps to change perceptions and behaviors relative to the National Parks and foster the next generation of diverse, informed, and loyal park stewards and outdoor enthusiasts. We're honored to feature her here!
Are you in the process of creating something? What/Why?
I'm in the process of pulling together a film that will showcase people of color in the outdoors, being amazing at their chosen sport, climbing, skiing, cycling, etc. The purpose of the film would be to talk about the importance of seeing racial diversity in the outdoors. I know an amazing filmmaker out there is chomping at the bit to make this happen!
What practice is keeping you sane right now?
What keeps me sane is knowing that the work I do, no matter how difficult and frustrating it gets at times, will do 2 things: benefit the environment in the long run and show those who come after me that anyone can make a difference in the world if they are truly committed to the journey.
Best bit of advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I've ever received came from my dad. As a kid my dad would say to me, "you alone are enough, never look at anyone, no matter their title or position and think you don't match up to them." Having lived this advice growing up, has made me a more confident woman in my adult life.
Favorite books for travel/inspiration?
My favorite Books are And Still I Rise by Maya Angelo, The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson, and The Hour of Land by Terry Tempest Williams. I so want to work with Terry on a book about nature and people of color!
Favorite product from the Wylder shop?
On your dark days, what brings you hope?
What brings me hope is seeing people living their best lives, in spite of obstacles in their path. All too often we pretty up "greatness", as if it comes without struggle. It's so cool to watch people who chase down their dreams, no matter the obstacles they come across.
Are you an activist? If so, what are you fighting for and why?
I would consider myself a common day activist, inspired by incomplete activism of the past. What I mean by that is this: I am an extension of those who came before me, continuing the fight for racial and gender equality. The last frontier of the civil rights movement is the fight for equitable racial diversity throughout our natural landscapes. This is my life's journey.
I would like to add that you don't have to be a person of color to care about lack of diversity in our natural spaces. If you are a lover of nature, a lover of wild spaces, you must care about lack of diversity in the outdoors. In 20 years, when people of color are the number ONE demographic in this country and we have not re-established our relationships with the land, who will be around to fight for the protection of our most precious landscapes? This is why the fight for racial diversity in the outdoors is so vital.
Learn more about African American Nature and Parks Experience or read Teresa's blog