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Racial injustice pervades our wilderness. A change of heart is needed

For people of color in the Columbia River Basin, the simple act of taking a hike or casting a fishing line into the water can be weighted with danger

A few years ago on Veterans Day I was fishing where the Deschutes runs into the Columbia River. I was fly-fishing with a buddy, another person of color. It was a perfect day; a day to unwind and chase trout.

I pulled up in my truck behind a vehicle, the only one parked off the road. We donned our gear and started to approach the river. We passed two white anglers and said “Hello.”

They did not respond. So, we carried on with our day. When we were done, we returned to my truck, which was now the only one parked off the road, and saw that while we were fishing my tires had been slashed and my brake lines yanked out.

On social media, I have been publicly accused of “taking” fly-fishing from white people. Once I went fly-fishing with a very good friend of mine on the Clackamas River. He and his wife had made a significant donation to Soul River Inc., the nonprofit organization I founded that brings together urban youth of color with military veterans as life coaches. We took a picture together and I posted it on Facebook. That’s when I got attacked with pure hate on social media. (See Facebook post below.) In a way, it caught me off guard but did not really surprise me. This comes with being black in America.

I was once given a warning shot to get out of the water when I was fly-fishing on the Sandy River. I’ve received threatening phone calls and told I’d be drowned the next time I tried to fish.

Spirit of inclusion

There is a mentality among some white folk that denies racism in the outdoors exits. This mentality suggests that, “If I don’t experience it, it must not exist.” They also think, “That sort of thing happens in other places, not here in the Pacific Northwest.”

This mentality discounts and denies my experiences along with the experiences of many other people of color.

Continue reading Chad Brown's full article here.


May 7, 2022

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Columbia Insight

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Columbia Insight publishes news and feature stories about the Columbia River Basin environmental challenges, the people and places affected, and the successes. And to foster a sense of shared values.


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