Minority report

Bigfoot isn’t very diverse. And when I say “diverse,” I mean racially. And no, I’m not writing about various ethnicities within the population of bigfoot.

Cliff Barackman attending to his adoring public

Cliff Barackman attending to his adoring (all-white) public

I’ve heard it remarked on more than one occasion that, “black people never see bigfoot.” And, anecdotally, that seems pretty true. I can’t recall ever meeting an African American interested in bigfoot. Or, come to think of it, someone of Asian descent. I know a few Hispanics who are into it. (And, off course, now that I’ve written and published these words, I’ll remember some guy who is either black or Asian…or both.)

In a New Republic article I just found yesterday (though it was written last September), we have a probable explanation:

The Outdoor Industry Associationthe top outdoor-recreation lobby in America (and based in Boulder, naturally)insists that outdoor enthusiasts “are all genders, ages, shapes, sizes, ethnicities and income levels,” but research by their own nonprofit organization, The Outdoor Foundation, shows underwhelming diversity. Its 2013 outdoor participation report notes that last year, 70 percent of participants were white. “As minority groups make up a larger share of the population and are predicted to become the majority by 2040, engaging diverse populations in outdoor recreation has never been more critical,” the report reads. “Unfortunately, minorities still lag behind in outdoor participation.”

In a front-page story today, The New York Times details these very problems facing the National Park Serviceonly one in five visitors to NPS sites are nonwhite, according to a 2011 study cited in the articleand the “multipronged effort to turn the Park Service’s demographic battleship around.” Clumsy metaphors aside, the article does a respectable job at detailing the various effortsnamely outreach, all-expenses-paid trips, and creating more national monuments recognizing minority figures in U.S. historyto increase minority participation.

The article posits that minorities tend not to go into the woods to camp and hike for several reasons:

  • They tend to live in more urban areas and don’t have easy access to forests, either as young people or adults
  • The hobby can be expensive and they under-index in average income
  • Culturally, sleeping on the ground in a tent could be viewed as “going backward” among those focused on upward mobility

This seems to me very similar to the hypothesis that the majority of bigfoot enthusiasts seem to be politically conservative because they over-index among those who live in rural environments and spend time in the woods either working or hunting. Minorities are likely underrepresented because they don’t generally get out into the forests and wild places of our country.

This seems logical. If you aren’t in the woods, for whatever reason, you’re unlikely to appreciate them, have experiences there, or even express much interest in things that happen in them. If you are and do and have, then the opposite result would be expected.

Is this a problem that needs to be addressed? I dunno. Seems above my pay grade. But if the National Park Service is successful in getting minorities into our forests over time, then I’d expect their representative percentage of bigfoot enthusiasts to increase accordingly. And all of us have reasons to make as many people as possible more appreciative of what’s left of our wilderness. 

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Posted in Miscellaneous sasquatchery
13 comments on “Minority report
  1. Donn says:

    Little to argue with here. The people with the most serious opinions on this are steeped in outdoor experience.

    • Jim Whitehead says:

      Actually I took a sighting report from a African American family in Oklahoma. It appears that they don’t refer to bigfoot as bigfoot, but by other names. The witness that keyed me in on the sightings said he had never seen a bigfoot, but he had seen a “Cat-head”. He went on to describe a 7 ft, reddish furred creature that was well muscled, and feet that “bent in the middle.” The face and body were “like a man’s but bigger”, the witness said the ears were slightly pointed, which is why they called it “cat-head”. He, his uncle, and his female cousin all had sightings, as had other people in the area, apparently the creatures came through there fairly often.

  2. jodie says:

    I thought cat head was a term for biscuits, at least it was in Alabama. As a general rule in the south, it is frowned upon in the African American population to pursue anything deemed paranormal due to religious beliefs. Church affiliation is a big part of the African American culture, not just because of religious beliefs, but because they relied on that institution to police themselves rather than involving traditionally white cops to solve their differences after the civil war. Let’s face it, up until the late 70’s a black person running around the woods at night would certainly be profiled, and probably still would be today, as someone up to no good IMO. I think that plays a bigger part in why that specific minority doesn’t look for bigfoot.

  3. jodie says:

    I’ld also like to add that many African Americans hunt in the southeastern United States. Either there is some fundamental cultural difference there that would predispose a white person to interpret what they see as bigfoot or African American hunters tend not to report their sightings. I don’t think it is strictly related to a lack of interest in the outdoors.

    • Donn says:

      I think that one thing that may be going on is the thing that happened when Europeans heard “Indian legends” about these animals. We filed the accounts under “superstition.” Going to be awfully hard to get clarity when one stops there.

  4. David says:

    Another factor might be the old stereotype that for so many years characterized African Americans as excessively superstitious and gullible. If you already have that prejudice working against you, why add to it by reporting a bigfoot sighting?

  5. andy firth says:

    I believe most of the reports of the “sykesville monster” were made by African Americans, oh and Lonnie .s of course

  6. Glenn says:

    I’m African American & I’m into Bigfoot. My family might say that I’m obsessed. I’ve had several Class B encounters in Southern Ohio. My cousin has actually been screamed at & chased. I’ve spent a lot of time in the wilderness in the Army & I also like to fish. Truth is though….most African American’s aren’t into outdoor activities involving the woods. A lot of Blacks in the South hunt & fish though. So they’ve had to have had encounters. My Great Grandma, who was half Cherokee Indian use to warn me about going into the woods because I’d get eaten by the “Boogie Man”. I use to blow her off but I learned years later that she was actually talking about Sasquatch. I’d love to find more Black Bigfooters but I haven’t found any.

  7. Chuck says:

    I wouldn’t call myself a bigfooter but I am Black, have seen something I can’t explain in the woods, heard something that scared me so bad I packed up my tent and went home and am interested in the subject of bigfoot.
    In the 20 odd years that I’ve been mountain biking, hiking, camping and kayaking I’ve only ever come across one other Black person.
    That being said I was raised in the south (stuck in Ohio now) and spent a LOT of time “out-of-doors” so being outside is what I know.
    From what I’ve learned, the mistrust of authority and “telling” is based on historical fact. My mother and both grandmothers, all of whom were raised in the south, had stories of people they knew who informed authorities (doctors, nurses, etc) of illnesses, went to hospitals and came home sick or, even worse, never came back at all.
    When I was younger I didn’t believe them but when I got older I learned the stories of involuntary drug testing were true.
    This doesn’t explain everything but it can still be seen in Black neighborhoods when the police show up and no one knows anything.
    I’d bet money that the number of sightings of bigfoot by Black folk ( and other minorities) rivals the number of sightings by Whites but, unless the right person inquires, those sightings will stay family legend.

  8. Missy says:

    Why hasn’t any remains, domiciles, anything other clues to this “animal” been reported? I mean there are tons of dinosaur fossils, ancient ruins of civilazations past to prove their existence. Why hasn’t anyone shot one of these things? People are so scared that they don’t react in a defensive manner? Even when there are reports of people being armed. I call bullsh*t on this one. When a body or skeleton of said bigfoot is found, I will then believe they exist.

    • Brian Brown says:

      “Domiciles” have been reported. The physical remains things has been asked and answered like a million times. Reports of them being shot have also been recorded multiple times. Why would someone react defensively to a brief and unexpected encounter with an animal? And who says nobody ever has reacted that way?

      So glad you took the time to tell us how you felt. Maybe you need to get a hobby or something…

  9. What if your people have lived on the land,ate from the land, farmed it, fished it, gathered berries and fruits from it ( I did ) and yet no stories of bigfoot,,, something is pretty much wrong with this….if the habitat in the wild is shrinking , then my people would have seen it when farm life was the norm.

    We have land that is wild and can be used for hunting and no weird stories of hominids or any cryptid… the most dangerous animal on that property at one time was pigs… another family had large Hogs, and lived a life like they did in the 1930’s back in the 70’s and still no apelike creature… only thing dangerous was his adult caged Hogs.

    No black or native people(great grandmother from Florida- probably black seminole mixed) I have known in my life have ever spoke of a ape-like creature in the swamps, woodlands or any place….My Family is mainly from Louisiana a good amount in Texas also.

    My best friend’s mother did have an experience where she was visited by Aliens (maybe taken aboard also )

    We still hunt the land and still no swamp ape seen.

    Unless bigfoot is in the suburbs because they were not in the wild.

    When White americans were living in beautiful homes, many black people were in rural areas and seen nothing when they were on the land 24/7 trapping and fishing.

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