Ogged [Umm, actually, it was Bob. –ed.] went camping in Colorado and was struck by an eerie realization: He was the only non-white person out there.

I know Denver’s somewhat diverse, but Colorado in general isn’t. I flew back from Denver via Atlanta, and my layover felt almost exactly like my layover at Heathrow when I flew back to the States from Copenhagen (also my layover in Paris when I flew back from Vienna): the sudden visual rush of skin colors, accents, and clothing styles brought home how powerful a force the air-travel industry is in mixing worlds together into new worlds. (For the opposite effect, fly from San Francisco through Salt Lake to Chicago.)

My question: why are camping and hiking such white-person activities? At visitor centers and short, paved trails, I saw many people of color. Not so on the longer or rougher trails. And I’d bet money I was the only nonwhite person in our large campground.

For years, there has been a running joke among many African American comics that you only see white people in horror movies because, well, black people would simply move at the first sign of a homicidal ghost. Maybe it just doesn’t occur to black people who have worked hard to afford a home and a car that, “Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to trek out to the boonies and walk a long way and then sleep out in the rain among the snakes and bugs!”

FILED UNDER: Race and Politics, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ogged says:

    Thanks for the link, but it was Bob, not me, who went camping.

  2. James Joyner says:


  3. Dodd says:

    The last time I went to the movies there was a preview for an Eddie Murphy haunted house flick (it may be comic horror, it was hard to tell). But it reminded me that his first(?) record had a bit on it about how Amyityville Horror would have been a really short movie if blacks had bought the house because they’d have skedaddled right out for good at the first ghostly voice saying, “Get out!” I found it amusing that he, of all people, was making a movie about a family of blacks who clearly don’t do so.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Amusing. I wasn’t even aware that such a movie existed, although I do indeed remember that old bit. Variations of that theme have been used by many comics since, and perhaps before.