Growing up, Tanya Walker never saw people of color like her doing outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking, and biking — so she decided to change that.
Walker is the founder of Black women kayaking +a group designed to encourage people of color to participate in recreational sports considered predominantly white spaces.
While Walker had a strong urge to venture outdoors as a child, members of the black community simply didn’t have the same exposure to these types of activities as other ethnicities.
“There was no marketing for people of color doing any of these things,” Walker said. “You just didn’t feel like it was something you could do or it was open to all people of color.”
With Black Women Who Kayak+, Walker says she hopes to break down the racial barriers that exist in recreational sports and empower black and brown people to participate.
“We try to break that mentality to say, why? Why not? It’s open to everyone and we should be able to do whatever everyone else is doing,” Walker said. “And so Black Women Who Kayak opens those doors so it’s not a question of why, but when?”
Since its inception in 2018, Walker has hosted several events in activities like kayaking, rowing, and cycling in the Austin area. The group was able to associate with places like the Texas Rowing Center and the British Swim School. Walker says 20 women are now part of the rowing community thanks to Black Women Who Kayak.
Walker hopes these are not just one-time events, but an opportunity for people of color to permanently maintain a place in these activities.
“(By) simply stepping onto our platform, we step out of their comfort zone and allow ourselves to plant the seed. And that’s basically what we’re doing is we’re planting the seed of curiosity in hopes that they’ll continue that,” Walker said.