This one clearly needs some explanation. So without further ado, let’s turn the floor over to Malcolm McCann, a student at Claremont Colleges in California who writes for “The Student Life,” the school’s student paper. His most recent contribution is titled “Insiders and Outsiders in the Outdoors.” It begins:
Comfort in a space is a privilege. Like many forms of privilege, it is left unobserved and overlooked by those who have it. People at the 5Cs feel comfortable in the spaces they can claim ownership over, and uncomfortable in spaces where they cannot.
But those comfortable in a space often remain ignorant of their privilege because, paradoxically, those who are uncomfortable in the space will rarely enter it.
The 5Cs are known for their prominent outdoor programs, such as Pitzer Outdoor Adventure (POA) and On the Loose (OTL). …
Both clubs claim to be accessible: while trips are open to any student wanting to go, not everyone feels the same ease in entering the outdoors. This discomfort is unfortunately caused by existing racial boundaries.
The oxymoronic phrase entering the outdoors suggests that McCann’s problems run deeper than a persecution complex based on race, but let’s stay with the latter.
Further along in the op-ed, he asserts that “people of color have been denied access to the outdoors,” a lamentable state of affairs that results from “the predominance of whiteness in the outdoors.”
Luckily, there are solutions to this problem, which McCann enumerates. First, the above-mentioned programs “should continually affirm that nature exists as a collective space owned by all by virtue of being human, not by virtue of being white.” His second issue is that “the image of the outdoor enthusiast” as someone white should change. By whom he doesn’t specify. It would seem to me that the problem is self-correcting in any case by simply having more people of color “enter the outdoors.”
I could go on, but I think the point is sufficiently clear: The extent to which people of color in the post-Obama era feel demonized by phantoms of their own imagining is without limit. I can’t deny that Malcolm McCann is in need of salvation. But it is from the bogeymen that inhabit his psyche, not from some imaginary societal order that denies his right to commune with nature.