Kinder in Color event breaks down racial barriers on historic day for Peak District

Kinder in Color on Sunday April 24 brought together individuals, groups and organizations from across the country, including Peaks of Colour, Wanderers of Color and the Sheffield Environmental Movement (SEM).

SEM founder Maxwell Ayamba, a PhD student who studies racial ecology and environmental justice, said: ‘It was the first-ever mass gathering of black people and people of color in Great Britain’s history. rural Brittany and we were overwhelmed with turnout.

“Having people of all racial backgrounds coming together, celebrating and marching to Kinder in all their diversity was wonderful to see. It was a joyful moment that I will remember forever. »

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Organizers believe it was the largest such gathering ever seen in rural Britain.

He added: “There were also a lot of white people who joined us. This demonstrates the unity we need to expand roaming rights and ensure that people from all walks of life have access to these spaces.

“Hikers said they had never set foot in this kind of place before. They came not knowing what to expect or how welcome they would be. This opened a new chapter in their lives.

Issues of rural inclusiveness have become increasingly visible in recent years, with some estimates that black people and people of color make up just one per cent of all visits to UK national parks.

The situation was summed up by an incident last year when a group of Muslim hikers received a torrent of racist abuse online for hiking up Mam Tor on Christmas Day.

Sheffield-based Peaks in Color walking club was one of many organizations that came forward. (Photo: Evie Muir)

The Peak District Park Authority and other public agencies have launched a series of policy measures, met halfway by local initiatives – but more needs to be done.

Nadia Shah, one of the organizers of the event, said: “As a half-Pakistani, half-Geordie, arriving at the door of the pub after a long walk still fills me with hesitation.

“Despite some progress over the past decade and the well-intentioned efforts of outdoor initiatives, the countryside remains a blank space. You are looked at differently and sometimes, unfortunately, you are also treated differently.

She added: “The conservation sector, where I work, is the second least diverse sector in the country. The least is agriculture. The people who live in the countryside are predominantly white. We want the countryside to become a more diverse and inclusive place.

The historic scene evokes the original spirit of the Kinder Mass Trespass, which eventually paved the way for the establishment of the national park.

Barriers to access extend far beyond the national park and exacerbate social and economic inequalities in more urban areas.

A 2020 report by the Ramblers Association found that only 39% of people of black, Asian or minority background lived within a five-minute walk of a green space, compared to 58% of whites.

More than two-fifths of people from ethnic minorities live in the most green-deprived neighborhoods in England, compared to just one in five white people, according to data produced the same year by Friends of the Earth.

Maxwell said: “If you look at the history of mass intrusion, at that time it was a class issue. Now there are also more issues of race and privilege.

“First, these spaces are perceived as racialized into whiteness by communities of color. Second, it’s the well-to-do who have the most access – they have good jobs, free time, can afford proper outdoor gear, and cars to take them where public transport can’t. .

He added: “Physical inactivity costs the NHS £1billion a year and society at large £7billion. Air quality in cities is a big issue, and the impact of the pandemic has been greater among communities of color because they lack access to outdoor spaces.

“The racialization and commodification of the English countryside makes events like this so important for democratizing the space.”

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In addition to the march, the day-long event included speeches by activists, nature education sessions and ceremonies designed to reconnect people with the land, coordinated by the Right to Roam campaign group, which advocates greater access to the countryside for everyone in Britain.

Spokesman Sam Siva said: “Kinder’s original intrusion saw the children of Jews and migrants, Quakers and nonconformists stepping from the margins of British society to strike at the privileged hearts of its landed elite.

“They were vilified as outsiders, but their actions paved the way for access rights now enjoyed by everyone in Britain. A diverse and inclusive campaign means more rights for everyone to connect with the land. Today, black people and people of color are coming together to finish the job.

Sam added: “By connecting with nature, celebrating our rich cultures and dreams, we can create a new culture for the countryside – a culture that embraces change, knowledge exchange, biodiversity and difference. “

Last week it emerged the government had canceled a review of the right to move in the English countryside. Defending a status quo in which legal restrictions already prevent people from moving freely on 92% of the country’s land, Commons Leader Mark Spencer described the countryside as “a place of business“.

Maxwell said: “If you look at the 2019 Glover review, it shows that we all pay for these national landscapes through taxes, but they still feel exclusive. Extending roaming rights will help many people access these spaces.

“The new police bill is expected to make trespassing a criminal offense rather than a civil offence, which will make people fearful of walking in places they don’t know and will extend historic issues between police and people of color from the cities to the countryside.”

He added: ‘The Peak District National Park is doing its best, some landowners actually want to open up trails and it’s part of the government’s own agenda to promote rural communities as fair – but if the recommendations aren’t followed and there is no funding, it will mean nothing.

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