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What It's Like for Us Non-White Hiker's
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Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
What It's Like for Us Non-White Hiker's on 02/26/2011 10:03:23 MST Print View

A friend pointed me to this video on what it's like to be a non-white hiker in places where few people of other ethnicities ever do things outdoors. Pretty funny!

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"What It's Like for Us Non-White Hiker's" on 02/26/2011 10:34:14 MST Print View

Yes! This is hilarious Miguel!

The first time I saw that sketch I emailed it to my father for a laugh- he's a 50 yr. 'young' black man working for the Bureau of Land Management, who coaches and trains two roller derby teams, prefers Pendelton shirts and on occasion wears Wranglers and boots, certified brush fire control fireman, plays percussion/vocals in a blues/soul/rock/folk band, and competes in 24 hour solo single speed mountain bike races year round.... let's just say he turns heads and breaks down preconceived notions in our ethnically and culturally homogeneous community, he is very much an anomaly and is treated as such.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: What It's Like for Us Non-White Hiker's on 02/26/2011 10:50:27 MST Print View

Eugene, you're too modest. You must be the same sort of inspiration to people, too!

My father is also black. And I was born, of all places, in Germany just 15 years after WW2. My white grandfather used to take my brother and me for long walks in the hills near Hannover and boy you should have seen the looks we got. But my grandfather is the one who instilled the love of the outdoors in me. Skin color and cultural differences had nothing to do with it. More than anything I'd like to see more non-white people out there learning about themselves, about the wonders of the natural world, and of learning to care for and think of others and their safety and well-being.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: What It's Like for Us Non-White Hiker's on 02/26/2011 12:41:15 MST Print View

Good video, Miguel.

Yeah, it's human nature to give the unusual "a second look" -- luckily, it's mostly good natured. We hope. :)

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: What It's Like for Us Non-White Hiker's on 02/26/2011 18:09:02 MST Print View

Ben, most people are good natured, I think, and they don't mean any insult or harm. They just don't think sometimes.

Now imagine Japan, where the entire country does double takes when they see non-Japanese, everywhere you go. The mountains particularly so. I once had a man grill me about all the items in my pack, telling me, "Japanese mountains are different from all other mountains in the world. I just want to be sure you are safe." His intentions were perfectly honorable, but boy was it annoying, especially after I repeatedly tried to tell him that I was experienced and knew the mountains here very well. Just to get back at him a little, I asked him to tell me about the contents of his pack, which he happily obliged. It ended up being an interesting exchange about hiking styles and gear. We both learned something. :^)

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: What It's Like for Us Non-White Hiker's on 02/26/2011 18:20:42 MST Print View

I was hiking up Mount Fuji, and I think the local people assigned a trail name for me.

Geijin.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I knew what it meant, anything from Foreigner to Outsider to White Stranger.

That's OK.

--B.G.--

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Re: Re: What It's Like for Us Non-White Hiker's on 02/26/2011 18:26:04 MST Print View

Gaijin. Foreigner.

Oh, they call EVERYONE that, even when they are traveling abroad and they are referring to the locals. I was traveling with a young Japanese guy I met in Spain once and I had to remind him that he was the foreigner and to stop being disrespectful.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: What It's Like for Us Non-White Hiker's on 02/26/2011 19:29:18 MST Print View

Hopefully, it becomes commonplace to see every race/color/sex/age/religion out there enjoying nature.

Muir Woods

Regards,
Father of three mixed race children (and one Asian wife)

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: What It's Like for Us Non-White Hiker's on 02/26/2011 20:07:00 MST Print View

Funny video.

Oprah did a special about this subject last Fall. OPRAH


Miguel,

I also had a German grandfather and, yep, took me on my first walks when I was three. I'm white but my wife has Native American (Cherokee) from her great grandparents on both her parents trees.

It is interesting to me that all of us are pretty much the same 99.9% I think. Without that .1% difference, our world would be a pretty boring planet.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: What It's Like for Us Non-White Hiker's on 02/26/2011 20:37:56 MST Print View

"Pretty funny!"

Now there is the understatement of the year.

Freakin' hi-larious. Thanks Miguel.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"What It's Like for Us Non-White Hiker's" on 02/26/2011 20:46:23 MST Print View

@ Miguel,

You're very fortunate to have had a family member share with you the edifying beauty of the outdoors early on in your life.

I'm 1/2 black, 1/4 Swedish, and 1/4 Samoan... it's pretty difficult to stick any labels on me! My 2 beautiful kids are 1/4 black, 1/8 Swedish, 1/8 Samoan, and my wife spiced things up with her Hispanic and German ancestry... we're quite a melting pot family. I'm a chameleon of sorts, in my community the abuelitas are always disappointed to find out that I'm incompetent at speaking Spanish and that I'm not even Mexican... apparently I appear one of their own.

The more people of color get outdoors and be an example in communities where doing such things isn't the norm the better- really the more people as a whole get outdoors the better.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Gaijin? Pfffttt... Japanese Are So Polite!! on 02/26/2011 21:46:00 MST Print View

Gaijin - 外人 - literally means 'outside person' or outsider. That sounds pretty tame actually, compared to what we Chinese use (informally, not in polite company): 鬼老 . Pronounced 'gweilo' in Cantonese, it means demons (and thus not even human). But to be fair, that term is so overused it long ago lost its negative connotation amongst Chinese speakers.

I remember when my mother once asked an Asian American real estate broker about a particular neighborhood...

Mom: "What kind of people live in this neighborhood"?
Broker trying to talk up the neighborhood: "Gweilo , but mostly bak gwei (white demons).
Mom: "Oh, OK".

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: "What It's Like for Us Non-White Hiker's" on 02/26/2011 22:16:54 MST Print View

@Eugene,

I always wondered where you got your name. These days "Eugene" isn't used so much anymore (my uncle's name is Eugene).

I'm Gullah (from South Carolina, around HIlton Head Island, a mix of escaped African slaves and Cree and Seminole) but mixed with Jewish (from the slave owner of my great great grandmother... yep, a Jewish slave owner), Filipino from my paternal grandfather (but half Chinese. The Chinese have been in the Philippines for hundreds of years. My grandfather looked like a dark-skinned, short statured Chinese), German (my maternal grandmother) and Danish (my maternal grandfather). I am married to a Japanese-Brazilian. I'm mistaken for all sorts of ethnic groups... Latino when I'm in the Americas, Portuguese in Portugal, Spanish in Spain, Turkish in German, among Indians and Pakistanis a Punjabi from the northern part of India (lighter skin than in the south) or Nepalese. Here in Japan I'm mistaken for Iranian or Iraqi (though I don't have the facial characteristics for that). The places I've felt most comfortable for the way I look are Hawai'i, Portugal, and Spain. Probably South America, too, but I've never been there.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: What It's Like for Us Non-White Hiker's on 02/26/2011 22:20:53 MST Print View

Tom, what a beautiful family!

It's great to hear the term "mixed race" rather than "half", which was more common when I was young.

Getting everyone out there and having fun while doing it is the best way to invoke lifelong love of the outdoors, isn't it?

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: What It's Like for Us Non-White Hiker's on 02/26/2011 22:25:56 MST Print View

George, I wonder what it's like to go hiking when you're as famous as Oprah? Can't imagine getting away with stealth camping!

Not the lightest weight set up!

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: What It's Like for Us Non-White Hiker's on 02/26/2011 22:29:50 MST Print View

Tom, I was laughing pretty hard myself, mainly because I'd experienced similar things so often, though never quite THAT bad!

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Gaijin? Pfffttt... Japanese Are So Polite!! on 02/26/2011 22:45:59 MST Print View

Ben, yeah, I've been called "gweilo" by Chinese, even by some of my friends! (o.O")

In general the Japanese don't use gaijin as a derogatory term (Japanese has very few curse words or words to denigrate someone face on). I guess the Japanese never developed the anger that the Chinese did because Japan was never overrun and subjected to a foreign power like China was.

However, the early term for Europeans was "bataa kusai", or "butter stinkers", apparently because they smelled like rancid butter. The Japanese didn't eat or drink dairy products in those days.

But the feeling of not wanting to mix with the outsiders is very similar between Japanese and Chinese and Koreans. The Japanese do it less than the Chinese, though. I don't know how many of my couple friends in which one person was Chinese ended up breaking up because the other one wasn't Chinese. I haven't seen that too much among the Japanese, though Japanese women tend to marry non-Japanese far more often than Japanese men do. And in America and the rest of the world the Japanese tend to live more dispersed than the Chinese, not forming the China Towns quite so often. The Koreans are pretty close knit, too.

As a Chinese American how are your experiences while hiking and being outdoors? Do you get curious looks?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Gaijin? Pfffttt... Japanese Are So Polite!! on 02/26/2011 23:04:16 MST Print View

Miguel:

It's interesting that we Chinese may have invented insularity; and yet, we are also just about the most pragmatic people on earth. For example, you won't find full-scale religious wars in our 5000+ year history.

Yes, we think we have the most sophisticated culture and the best tasting cuisine -- but then when my cousin -- fresh off the boat from Shanghai to Texas in the '90s married a Mexican American, nobody in our family (here or back in Shanghai) even batted an eye. It was also hilarious that in just a few short years, my cousin spoke far better Spanish than any of his Mexican American inlaws (their family had settled in Texas generations ago)!

As for Asians hiking... it's not unusual at all to see day hikers here in California. Actually, if you ever encounter large groups of Asian hikers -- and there are many of them here -- you can bet they are Korean church groups! Day hikers though they are, these Korean Americans "all" wear/carry top brands (Arcteryx, Mountain Hardwear, Osprey). Multi-day wilderness hikers are far fewer though. Do I get "the look"? Only occasionally -- although I may have missed a few since I'm always busy checking out people's packs! :)

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Gaijin? Pfffttt... Japanese Are So Polite!! on 02/26/2011 23:22:15 MST Print View

Ben, I keep forgetting how intermixed California is. Excuse my ignorance. Of course there are a lot of different ethnics groups hiking there. The same goes for the PNW, too. And the west coast of Canada. It's been 20 years since I lived in the States (though I've been back many times), and a lot has changed over that time.

Interesting about the lack of religious wars. I suspect it has a lot to do with the difference in how East Asians think about religion. There are no monotheistic gods and for the most part what gods there are are considered part of the general populace. You don't bow down to them as if they were kings or queens. As you said, the Chinese (and Japanese) tend to be very pragmatic. It isn't for nothing that the Chinese have the richest history of inventions and social systems of any culture on Earth. I think a lot of people would be shocked to learn just how much the Chinese have contributed to technological development throughout history.

How about blacks hiking? Has that increased much? It would genuinely make me happy to hear that the numbers are increasing.

Edited by butuki on 02/26/2011 23:24:13 MST.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"What It's Like for Us Non-White Hiker's" on 02/26/2011 23:40:18 MST Print View

A different perspective.

Stuff White People Like- #128- Camping

Of course this isn't necessarily true, this quote from the above post made me laugh:

"In theory camping should be a very inexpensive activity since you are literally sleeping on the ground. But as with everything in white culture, the more simple it appears the more expensive it actually is."

*FYI, this is an excerpt from a book called "White Shades of Pale" written by two young white males.

Edited by Eugeneius on 02/26/2011 23:44:42 MST.