Experiences such as the recent confrontation of Black bird-watcher Christian Cooper and other public altercations have shaken America as its eyes are forcibly opened to witness the treatment of many minorities while doing simple pastimes such as walking or birding. The term "birding while Black" is one that captivated me. I never really thought that the population of Black people who liked birds was large enough for such a term to be created. Having started birding four years ago at age 12, I noticed on different organized local birding excursions that not only was I in the age minority, but also a racial minority. The birding community already has such a small number of minorities, so it seems natural that those venturing into the world of birding may feel unwelcome. I couldn't help but feel slightly out of place during my first birding trip with the Santa Clara Audubon society.
To my surprise, the veteran birders participating in the excursion welcomed me with open arms as if it was my 100th trip with them. In hindsight, the only time I felt uncomfortable was the few minutes before we began the trip and before I became acquainted with many of them. That's why the last thing I want is for the many occurrences we see in the media of the ill-treatment of minorities while enjoying simple activities to become the impetus driving away potential minority birders. I'm not discrediting the negative experiences of many other minority birders. The term "birding while Black" exists for a reason. Our world is far from perfect, which is why I'm forced to be aware of how I may be perceived while walking through a neighborhood with my binoculars and possibly a camera. I only hope that this may act as a window into the experiences of an African American birder in Palo Alto, so people may see that a community that has long been seen as belonging to only a certain demographic, is really open to all.
Dolores Street, Stanford
In response to the article titled, "Mac's Faces Hazy Future," in the June 19 edition of The Weekly, I ask my fellow residents of Palo Alto just one question: Is this what we really want? Do we really want our representatives on the City Council to knowingly force Mac's Smoke Shop out of business by banning flavored tobacco, which they have been retailing since 1934?
Apparently, our council members care more about imposing their values on the rest of us than they care about the livelihood of our small businesses. What will be banned next?
Arbutus Avenue, Palo Alto
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