Statement on Racism and Inclusion in Birding

July 2020

The Oregon Birding Association (OBA) board met recently to discuss how our organization can do more to remove the barriers that face Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) birders in Oregon and to adopt a strong position on this issue that goes beyond our initial statement on racism in birding. In the midst of the nationwide outcry over the centuries-long oppression and brutalization of Black Americans, we recognize that OBA has historically been a mostly white organization in a mostly white state, promoting a hobby historically enjoyed by mostly white people. We have not done enough in the past to recognize the ways in which birding is not equally accessible to everyone or worked to change this dynamic. We are working to make birding in Oregon more welcoming to all, while acknowledging the privilege that white birders have in this regard.

Moving forward, we hope to use our grant program to support organizations doing work that aligns with our mission in communities that we don’t currently reach. We also plan to incorporate this work into our field trips, our annual meeting, and the Oregon Birds journal. These are all volunteer endeavors, and we welcome your participation.

We encourage Oregon birders to actively educate themselves on anti-racism and specifically the challenges that face Black Americans and Black birders in our home state as a first step.

These panels are highly educational in terms of explaining the obstacles faced by Black birders.

More to read and watch from Black birders:

We hope that Oregon birders agree with the growing understanding that this topic is not political, but one of basic human rights, and that it is not tangential to our hobby, but central to it, and critical to include in our forums, including OBOL. We support the recent statement from Seattle Audubon and encourage Oregon birders to read it and reflect on its meaning.

We recognize the work that is already being done in this regard, particularly by BIPOC-led organizations such as Wild Diversity and Outdoor Afro, that are working in Oregon to welcome and create a sense of belonging in the outdoors for the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities, and encourage our members to become familiar with and support their work.

We approach this work with humility and a willingness to learn and change, even though it may be uncomfortable. We welcome your feedback about how we as an organization can work to remove the barriers that face BIPOC birders in Oregon. We would also like to encourage anyone interested in getting more involved with OBA and helping with this effort to contact us. We currently have several open board seats.