NPF Chief Program Officer LaTresse Snead reflects on her own experiences in national parks and how that inspires her work present day. Read an excerpt from the piece, “Creating More Equitable Outdoor Spaces,” below.
“While I have had the opportunity to experience some of the most beautiful parks around the world, I am ever mindful of the complex relationship Black folks have with nature. The generational trauma surrounding lynchings and the outdoors is very real, as I grew up hearing, ‘It’s not safe in those woods for Black folks.’ As a Black person, I know from experience that I do not have the privilege of feeling completely safe and welcomed in spaces where there aren’t other people who look like me. Each time I have been stared down, forced off the trail, shushed, ignored, or even yelled at by strangers, I am reminded of this.
I am intimately aware of how these situations can ruin a moment that was meant to bring peace, joy, and healing. Given my experiences, my vision for the future is that nature must be a place where everyone feels comfortable and welcome and has the opportunity to benefit from all that nature provides.
As chief program officer at the National Park Foundation, it is my joyful mission to help create more equitable outdoor spaces where everyone feels safe, where everyone feels like they belong, and where everyone has access. I am constantly thinking about how our actions and programs support justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.”