Nizhooni Hurd – 31 July 2019
Photo Credit: James Q Martin
I have been interning in DC this whole summer and because of IG, I was finally able to connect with Soul Trak. I must say that I was initially a fangirl and that’s how I found Soul Trak. I have been following Tyrhee, along with many other young black and brown outdoor enthusiasts on Instagram for a couple of years now. It was my first month in college that I learned about James Mills and the Mt. Denali expedition that Tyrhee was on. Hearing about that was probably one of the first times I felt truly inspired as a black, indigenous outdoor enthusiast. I remember feeling encouraged by the story of the all black expedition, especially as I was venturing into the very white outdoor world at my college.
Over the last couple of years I have grown more and more involved and passionate about the outdoor industry, environmentalism and conservation. More importantly I am passionate about the inclusion and belonging of black and brown people in this realm. It’s critical to make sure that all identities are represented in these spaces. It’s way past time for a change in narrative about who gets to recreate, who is supposed to protect these spaces, and who even speaks out about climate change. Black and brown people have always existed, recreated and fought for the protection of the environment. It’s nice to have opportunities like Soul Trak, because I’d see it more as a reminder to us that we have, we can and we will be outside.
Beyond the activism of fostering space for black people to recreate outdoors, the Bike and Brunch meet-up allowed me some space for healing. It is healing for me to be around other black people. It was healing to get the chance to ride bikes in a natural space because it reminded me of my childhood and how I would ride bikes all evening with my friends. Despite the heat that day, it was great to step away from my normal obligations, ride bikes and connect with other black people. I am so thankful for all of the black and brown outdoor enthusiasts that use IG as a platform for promoting and connecting people of color in the outdoors. I am forever grateful for the meet-ups too! Meet-ups can be nerve wrecking, but wonderful chances to be humble and meet new people.
The biking experience was hot and sweaty, yet everyone had great positive energy. I found myself acknowledging that it was hot outside, taking a sip of water then getting back to biking, enjoying the breeze and butterflies as we coasted down the trail.
As an intern in DC, a foreign world for me coming from Colorado, scrolling around on IG truly helped me get outside and connected with other people in DC. I may have felt unfamiliar because I am an outsider to the DMV area, just one of the many interns flooding to DC every summer, but because it’s Soul Trak, I felt welcomed just as another black person wanting to bike in community and enjoy some brunch.
I am appreciative of experiences like these because I have recognized that interning can be tough. You may have a cool working experience, but wow, “adulting” can be kind of lonely and sad, especially when you may not have the same network of friends as you would in your home place or college. Therefore, Soul Trak was a beautiful time for me to get out and have fun. I hope other black interns can find and join future meetups with Soul Trak!