My name is Tiffany and I am the founder of Black Girls Trekkin’. I started hiking five years ago as a new hobby to help cope with stress and depression. I completed my own personal 50 hike challenge in 2015, which was very rewarding for me. I found my park, pushed myself to new limits, and did things that I couldn’t imagine actually doing when I was younger like kayaking, snorkeling, parasailing, and climbing waterfalls.
When I was a kid I had a thirst for adventure and a desire to be in and learn more about nature. I was constantly shuffling between watching Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and PBS (and of course Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network), and it instilled within me a love and appreciation for animals and nature— even bugs, though I steer clear of them. However, coming from a black family, I was limited on doing a lot of the outdoorsy stuff that I always see white families doing, even to this day. I was always considered the ‘weird’ or ‘white-washed’ member of the family because of my love of animals and nature, along with my desire to do things like hike or swim. It was and still is a stereotype that black people don’t go outside, swim, or care for animals the way white people do. I thought something was wrong with me and tried for years to try and ‘acclimate’ to things that I felt were appropriate for me as a young black girl.
When I finally did start hiking, it helped me to re-affirm who I am today and validate my feelings about animals and nature. I still tune in to Netflix to watch nature documentaries! I love the outside world and I feel more people of color should too and shouldn’t be ashamed of it. That’s why I took to Instagram and started blackgirlstrekkin. Instagram showed me that there’s a whole world full of people of color who love many aspects of the outdoors. Be it hiking, climbing, surfing, snowboarding, skydiving or other outdoor activities, we’re making it known that we’re here and we’re just as connected to nature as everyone else. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing there are other people like me out there on the trails, knowing that I’m not alone.
When I first started hiking, I hardly ever saw people of color out on the trails. Even when I visited Yosemite National Park and met park ranger Shelton Johnson, he expressed that he didn’t see many Black people in the park. That conversation was the initial spark I needed to try and make a difference and to try and see if I could inspire people over Instagram or in person to get outdoors. It’s amazing to feel connected to nature. It gives me a drive and passion to pursue those things that I care about: preservation and protection of natural lands (and the animals that live there) while showing that representation DOES matter. That’s what I’m trying to do. That’s why I made this group. Black women are strong, beautiful, independent, and wonderful and I want to show the world that we’re here and we matter. We’re here to empower other black women and people of color while connecting to the outdoors. We’re trekkin’ it!
I’m Michelle and I’m lucky enough to have known Tiffany since High School. Knowing how dedicated and amazing she is it was a no brainer for me to say “yes!” when she asked me to be a co-leader for Black Girls Trekkin’.
My passion for the outdoors started at a very young age with a love for the ocean. Growing up without cable as a PBS/KCET kid, I remember seeing a Reading Rainbow episode about scientists trying to save manatees. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to be a Marine Biologist. Because of my decision, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to spend time at the beach, tide pool, whale watch, snorkel, feed sharks, and scuba dive.
Although I had the support of my family, not everyone was a fan of my career choice. For years, I heard people say “Marine Biology isn’t a job for black people”, “Black people don’t go to the beach”, and “Black people don’t know how to swim”. Taking their negativity as a challenge, I finally graduated with a degree in Marine Biology in 2014. On the day of my graduation, I felt proud of my accomplishments but I suddenly realized I was the only black person graduating from the major. It’s a feeling I haven’t been able to shake and it’s served as fuel for me to work as hard as I can to make sure no one is held back by someone saying what they can’t or shouldn’t do. Now, as I pursue a Masters in Biology, I am focusing my capstone project on ensuring that black voices are heard, and represented, in science and outdoor recreation.
I joined Black Girls Trekkin’ because through our combined passion and enthusiasm we’ll let everyone know that there is nothing “black people” can’t do!