Minority Ethnic peoples’ rural heritage

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig with Mrs M and her granddaughter

An issue that I feel strongly about is getting Minority Ethnic people out into nature whether it’s in an inner-city park or a rural nature reserve. As I see it, nature and conservation are almost completely white and this needs to change. I have been talking to many nature charities about this and asking that they engage with minority ethnic people.

I have organised two nature weekend camps for teenagers, called Camp Avalon 2015 and 2016, bringing together young naturalists with you minority ethnic teenagers who have never been into the countryside. I also organised a conference called Race Equality in Nature last June with Bill Oddie and Kerry McCarthy as the main speakers and set up Black2Nature, an organised that will be working with the nature charities to improve the number of minority ethnic staff, volunteers and members that are from minority ethnic communities.

Much younger minority ethnic people haven’t heard anything about their heritage other than their knowledge that it is city-based, liked they and often their parents have experienced. So I decided to interview four minority ethnic elders who all came to Britain in the late ’50s and early 60’s and all have grandchildren living in central Bristol. I wanted to find out about their childhoods, especially about the ways in which they connected with nature and the outdoors.

I was hoping that young Minority Ethnic people when they heard these interviews, would gain a sense and understanding that their heritage is in fact a rural heritage, not an urban heritage.

This programme was broadcast on Ujima Radio today and had two of my interviews, firstly Gene Messiah who is 80 years old, came to Britain from Barbados in 1956 and secondly a 77-year-old lady from Jamaica who was embarrassed about being on the radio and so didn’t want her name mentioned. She came to the UK in the early 1960s. The first interview is 3 minutes in and the second 24 minutes in.

The first hour, 12 noon to 1 pm – http://listen-again.ujimaradio.com/index.php?id=33588

The following hour has an interview with Judy Ling Wong who set up the Black environment Network in 1987. I met with Judy today to discuss the progress I have been making with Black2Nature and talking to the nature charities and getting advice and inspiration.

Second hour 1 pm to 2 pm – http://listen-again.ujimaradio.com/index.php?id=33589

I will be posting the two other interviews shortly. These were particularly important to me as one was my maternal grandmother (nanu) Asma Ahmed who is 74 years old and came from Bangladesh in 1961 and the other is Akmal Khan who is 75 years old, came to Britain in the early 1960s and grew up in the same village as my maternal grandfather Feroze Ahmed (nanabhai) and so I wanted to know as much as I could about the village, as he died before I was born. I did all the recordings and editing myself and have some of my own recordings that I will add to the post shortly.

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