Friday, January 30, 2009

Not Quite White

A socially conscious American Kestrel deeply ponders The Race Question.

As some of you may know, Im not quite a white dude. Im half Korean and half least thats what I'm told. People usually cant really tell my ethnicity by looking at me.....I can get away with being a white guy, a latino dude, Native American, a Phillipino or almost any type of asian. If I was into lying to people more than I am, probably no one besides my parents would know The Truth.

Anyhow, although I recieved some racist crap as a child and have gotten some gnarly hate looks in Texas, Im pretty happy with my genetic makeup. Girls with yellow fever (there are more than you would think!) have embraced me, and people want to employ me because I make their organization appear to be more diverse. Being the only Welsh-Korean (Korelsh?) hybrid anywhere I go (except for my living room, where Zack Brewer is usually found lurking. He has a similar genetic background but somehow appears Incredibly Jewish. But I digress.....), I think I have kind of an interesting and unique viewpoint as far as race is concerned.

Which leads us to today's topic: White People And Birding. As you probably know (if you are a birder), the vast majority of birdwatchers in the U.S. of A. are white. I have been an avid birder since 1994 (Jesus!), and have been around much of the country doing this. In all those years, I have seen a total of THREE (3) BLACK PEOPLE who were birdwatchers. Count em. I have run into, birded with and come across thousands of birders, and have seen only three black people. Am I the only one who finds this odd? Other birders I know dont talk about this very much, but then most of ya'll are white folk, pure as the driven snow. The only black birdwatcher I got a chance to talk to beyond the standard "See anything good today?" was Lewis Tucker, who was at the Arctic Warbler in Oceano back in 1996 or whenever that was. Ive been told he is an actor, but I cannot find any information about him. Anyways, he was a pretty cool dude as I recall.

Other races are better represented in the birding community, but still nothing approaching the ratios that these races occupy in the total populace. The truth is, in the U.S. anyways, birding is primarily a middle-upper class leisure activity for middle-aged and older Caucasian Americans, although it certainly doesnt have to be (fortunately I know of a number of exceptions). This seems to be a symptom of the division of classes, creeds and cultures in the country I think, and leads to bigger and more important questions about these issues that I wont bother dealing with here. It something to think about though, and I think getting the birding scene into some new communities could be a very positive thing.

But perhaps the answer to The Race Question in American birdwatching is simple; its so incredibly nerdy that only white people can withstand it. Ha!


  1. Interesting post, it must also have something to do with racial 'culture'? I was researching a post yesterday about how most birders in the UK are male and many single whereas the US seems to have a a more even split based on looking through Blogger profiles that list birding as an interest.

  2. Yeah I would say its a relatively even split in the US as far as gender goes......however, my roommate just had his first ornithology class at San Francisco State and said out of 20 people, 17 were that is a good ratio!