Monday, 23 January 2017

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 is almost completely white and this needs to change. I have been talking to many nature charities about this and asking that 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, volunteer and members that are from minority ethnic communities.

Many 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 50's 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 yeas 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 1960's. The first interview is 3 minutes in and the second 24 minutes in.

The following hour has an interview with Judy Ling Wong who set up 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.

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 1960's 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 they recordings and editing myself and have some of my own recordings that I will add to the post shortly.

About the Author

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig in Antarctica
Photograph copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Mya-Rose Craig is a 14 year old young British Bangladeshi birder, naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist, activist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world. She loved seeing Mountain Gorillas in East Africa and Penguins in Antarctica over Christmas 2015, her 7th continent.

Mya-Rose was a Bristol European Green Capital Ambassador along with Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tony Juniper, Simon King, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Shaun the Sheep! See the full list of Bristol Ambassadors. She has also been listed with the singer songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people
She organised a conference, Race Equality in Nature, in June 2016 aiming to increase the ethnic diversity in nature. She has also set up Black2Nature with the aim of working with organisations to increase the access to nature of BAME people. Please connect with her on LinkedIn (Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig) so that she can invite you to join the Race Equality in Nature LinkedIn Group and be part of the change. Please like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter

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