Racial Diversity Among Cavers

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Re: Racial Diversity Among Cavers

Postby GroundquestMSA » Sep 17, 2014 2:03 pm

That's an... interesting article. The analysis of the stats is a lot of nonsense.

I've been thinking a lot about this over the last couple of weeks. Despite having no real answers, I'll share my ideas in a while...
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Re: Racial Diversity Among Cavers

Postby graveleye » Sep 17, 2014 2:31 pm

I have a friend who went to fight in Vietnam when he was 18. He had to sleep outside so much that the idea of camping is just stupid to him. He just doesn't see any fun in it at all.
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Re: Racial Diversity Among Cavers

Postby Caving Guru » Sep 17, 2014 3:46 pm

graveleye wrote:I have a friend who went to fight in Vietnam when he was 18. He had to sleep outside so much that the idea of camping is just stupid to him. He just doesn't see any fun in it at all.


And my dad had a friend who went to fight in Vietnam when he was 19 and that friend was killed in Vietnam within the first 6 months in Vietnam.
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Re: Racial Diversity Among Cavers

Postby trogman » Sep 18, 2014 9:33 am

graveleye wrote:I have a friend who went to fight in Vietnam when he was 18. He had to sleep outside so much that the idea of camping is just stupid to him. He just doesn't see any fun in it at all.


I honestly don't enjoy camping near as much as I used to. While I love being out in the woods, and sleeping outside, the realities of aging are making it much less appealing to do so. I desire comfort when I sleep, so an inflatable mattress is essential. And those middle-of-the-night bathroom breaks are much more troublesome when you have to get up from the ground and stumble around in the dark looking for a place to relieve yourself.

I could probably abide camping now much easier if I did it like some folks do- in a 30 or 40 foot long camper, with all the luxuries of home. I honestly don't consider that to be "camping," but I think I would enjoy doing it (if I could afford it, that is).

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Re: Racial Diversity Among Cavers

Postby GroundquestMSA » Sep 18, 2014 8:44 pm

It seems to me that the readily obvious factors behind the lack of involvement in caving, and perhaps other outdoor activities, by non-white minorities are the same factors that effect all of us and our choice of activity, namely; disinterest, fear, and lack of opportunity.

It's hard to say why a certain group should be disinterested in caving when it's so hard to say why we are interested in it. I think that minorities share many of the same basic motivations that whites react to by caving, they just choose to fulfill them in different ways. This is the toughest factor to understand, or even express.

The lack of opportunity consists of more than just a lack of funds, which is surely one factor. The stated goal of so-called racial equality may be being realized in some, mostly superficial, senses, but in the matter of opportunity to appreciate and interact with nature, the damage may be already done and take a lot of undoing. That racial minorities are disproportionately represented in urban areas has already been mentioned, but why is this the case? Many are able to live in rural areas because of a direct or indirect involvement in farming. Black citizens were at a real disadvantage in efforts to own and operate farms after the abolishment of slavery. As small farms vanished and sharecropping workers sought to escape direct employment by powerful white farmers, condensation in cities began. Many black youths, now, have no rural heritage, excepting a long-ago, painful one. There are many urban cavers who are white, but their perception of "the country" is not automatically marred by a traumatic and mercilessly laborious past. The lack of an inherited connection to rural places equals a lack of opportunity that I don't think is easily overcome. In fact, there may be no desire to connect with rural life in any form because of the trauma it represents. Y'all are speaking of Vietnam. On the way to work today I saw a car with a POW/MIA sticker and another with the words "Forget the war, not the warriors." I have no idea how history effects today's minorities, but I can accept that it may, deeply.

A few kinds of fear, at least, keep us from doing things. Legitimate fear of real dangers, phobias, meaning unreasonable fears that persist despite the knowledge that they are unreasonable, and fears based on ignorance. Sometimes they work together, as they do in my case to keep me from becoming a diver. Sometimes they evolve from ignorant fears to phobias. Many cavers must overcome, or live with, quasi-phobias in order to explore caves. Irrational fears of darkness, tight places, and heights are very common. Most of the fear of caves though, is based on ignorance. There is no doubt that many urban blacks are very ignorant of animal and other natural life. This results in a lot of somewhat comical but ultimately unfortunate fears. The only people I've personally known to be afraid of cats, butterflies, and chickens were black. These phobias can only be the results of a profound disconnect from reality, a cultural ignorance. As time passes, urban and suburban whites are also losing all connection with rural or natural life, and cultivating the same ignorant fears.

In the end, I don't think it's possible to completely answer the original question, though it is one I will remain interested in trying to answer. All I find in my wanderings are more questions, which is sometimes as good as it gets. No matter how confusing, it's fascinating to realize the subtle ways that our cultures and histories effect our behavior and interests.
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Re: Racial Diversity Among Cavers

Postby Myrna Attaway » Dec 3, 2014 6:05 pm

I have poled my black friends and got the same reaction. Almost a ritualized, oh no you ain't gonna get me near no hole in the ground. Even had discussions about why and most admitted that it was a prejudice, and I use that word correctly, that was passed down to them through their family and neighbors and probably based on slavery.

On a related note, I invited a person of color to an event to observe me perform. The person arrived, looked in the windows, saw no other black people and left. Then asked me if I was trying to get them killed. I pray to god this was a cultural reaction, but I also know it is not.

I grew up in an area that literally had no blacks. With no ethnic diversity it is very hard to know who is racist. (Hence my not knowing until I was a teenager that my grandfather was in the Klan.) That is sadly the case with us. We do have racists among us but it a conversation we never have. Those who are not comfortable around people of color gravitate to groups that are not diverse, like us.

It has happened that blacks have come among us and come face to face with hatred. It rarely happens out in the open so that those of us who are open minded can step in. It has though and boy was I proud of the reaction that day, and ashamed that the person who instigated it was well loved, respected and financially generous to the caving community. You have probably visited caves that are open today because of that person.

I find it ironic that I feel like I must keep that person's identity a secret. No, not ironic, sad. I am afraid that if I exposed their identity I could become subject to the same hatred. If I exposed it I could be ostracized by people I like and admire because I don't know their dirty little secret. I want to like everybody and be liked. I'm human, so sue me.
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Re: Racial Diversity Among Cavers

Postby GroundquestMSA » Dec 3, 2014 7:44 pm

Myrna Attaway wrote:I have poled my black friends


That's not nice... :big grin:

Thanks for your very interesting input. Other cavers have told me privately, since I started this thread, that unabashed, institutionalized racism exists among organized cavers and some of their organizations. This is unfortunate, if not surprising, especially if it discourages some black people from pursuing their interest in caves. I sincerely hope that some of those turned away by unfriendly cavers or grottos have become prolific spelunkers or DICs (damn independent cavers) as I was recently called.

On the other hand, while racial prejudice is disgusting, I cannot condemn all "racists". Overcoming our backgrounds is not easy, even if we are blessed with the realization that a change is needed. The phony acceptance so popular in the media does little to set a truly good example for good-hearted and sincere, and ignorant, individuals who have deeply ingrained prejudices. Your experience with racism among people you admire is, I believe, an opportunity to influence people's hearts, not through arguing or condemnation, but through setting a real example of kindness and impartiality, both to minorities and to "racists".
Last edited by GroundquestMSA on Dec 3, 2014 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Racial Diversity Among Cavers

Postby ohiocaver » Dec 3, 2014 7:59 pm

I cave only with members of one race: the human race. :cave softly:
[url=http://postimg.org/image/lex35gcbv/][img]http://s9.postimg.org/lex35gcbv/curt_Bryants_Cave_Indiana.jpg[/img][/url]
[url=http://postimg.org/image/eta4ctvar/][img]http://s21.postimg.org/eta4ctvar/cn_oh_isl_coils_cave_curt_sketch.jpg[/img][/url]
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Re: Racial Diversity Among Cavers

Postby caver.adam » Dec 4, 2014 12:38 am

And bats. And crickets. And fish. And troglodytes.
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