ABOUT US

KINder in Colour

Kinder as in Kinder Scout.

KIN as in kin, family. Ecologist and writer Robin Wall Kimmerer offers “ki” and “kin” as alternatives to “it” when talking about trees, insects, animals and rivers. Reclaiming the grammar of animacy.

Kinder as in kindness, compassion, empathy – how can we be kinder, how can we imbue care in all we do, how can we find kindness in the world around us?

Photo: Muslim Hikers

For Kinder (KIN-der) in Colour, we want to bring together, Black people and people of colour to walk, dance, sing and take up space on Kinder Scout and highlight that this Green and Pleasant Land belongs to us too. We have a right to play, heal and connect with the countryside as anyone. Centring ritual, we want to heal the land and ourselves. We want to give prayers and thanks, share space so that our joy, healing and resistances are infused with the same spirituality that we feel when we connect to land.

To this day there is unequal access and it is vital that rural spaces are safe and welcoming to people of colour. So much of the culture associated with the countryside is rooted in class, colonialism and exclusion. What if we changed that? What if we could all contribute to creating a new culture which sees humans as a part of nature, not something to protect nature from? What if this new culture looks to a revitalised and energised countryside where diversity or inclusivity isn’t seen as some urban fare? What if the countryside can become a place of healing and communing for all, a place that is accessible to all, and one that embraces all the multifaceted ways that humans can express care, play and joy?

This is why we trespass. 

ABOUT KINDER SCOUT

April 24th 2022 will mark the 90th anniversary of the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass of 1932. Turned away by gamekeepers on Bleaklow a few weeks before and frustrated by the lack of progress made by the official ramblers’ federations towards the Right to Roam, members of the Lanchashire branch of the Communist British Workers’ Sport Federation decided they would make a public mass trespass on Kinder Scout, the highest point in the Peak District. The Manchester trespassers were confronted by the Duke of Devonshire’s gamekeepers but they were able to continue to the peak and even crossed paths with Sheffield trespassers. Racism is nothing new in the English countryside. On their return five of the Manchester trespassers were arrested, serving between two and six months jail time. The arrest and imprisonment released a wave of sympathy and support from the public and united the ramblers’ cause. Benny Rothman, (a child of Jewish Romanian refugees) who was one of those arrested said that all five were “Jewish or Jewish looking people”, and he certainly believed that this was deliberately racist behaviour by police. They also faced antisemitic remarks from the judge in court.

The organisers of the 1932 Kinder Scout Mass Trespass faced antisemitic abuse
following their actions.

It is because of this trespass that the Peak District became the first National Park, open to all. Since the trespass, Edale and Hayfield have been rallying points for the right to roam movements. Nearly a century later even with a small amount of rights of way available to ramblers, the countryside is still rife with barriers to access especially for black people and people of colour. With this in mind, we want to disrupt the traditional way of celebrating this event. The racism that underpinned the arrest of the Kinder Scout trespassers is no different from the hostility that people of colour face in rural spaces to this day.

THE ISSUES

Despite making up 13% of the UK population, Black People and People of Colour (BPOC) make up only 1% of visitors to national parks. Just 39% of people from BPOC backgrounds live within a five-minute walk to green spaces compared to 58% of white people (Thomas Reuters Foundation). Additionally more than two-fifths (42%) of people from ethnic minorities live in England’s most green space-deprived neighbourhoods, compared with just one in five white people (The Guardian). The Journalist Jay Rayner created a race map which showed people from BPOC communities are much more likely to be the victim of racist assault in rural areas than in cities (CPRE). BPOC are as deserving to feel safe and comfortable in forests, moors and mountains as white people.

In 2000, the Countryside & Rights of Way (CRoW) Act gave us a partial Right to Roam over about 8% of England. For the last two decades, we have had legal access to walk over certain landscapes (mountain, moor, commons and some downland, heath, and coastlines) without fear of trespassing.

Recent studies have shown that access to green and blue spaces are beneficial to our physical and mental health which seems a strange thing to prove. Most of us have memories of playing in a forest or going for a swim in the sea and the positives that came with these activities. But what’s amazing is that just being near a body of water or being able to enjoy chlorophyll rich environments does wonders for our emotional wellbeing too. Time in nature, whether that’s in a park, forest or near a lake or the sea has been proved to have positive effects on depression, anxiety as well as improving sleep, reducing stress, increasing happiness, reducing negative emotions, promoting positive social interactions and even helps generate a sense of meaning to life. 

However, enjoying these spaces is limited to a minority of people who can afford to live near them. This minority is often people who are middle class, white, non-disabled. Marginalised groups often face hostility and discrimination or are made to feel as though nature must be protected from them due to a lack of knowledge and experience, and those who live in the countryside face “covert” and overt forms of racism (BBC). Often these groups of people must manage different mental health conditions without being able to access healing therapies due to cost or lack of capacity in the NHS (The Food Medic). Moreover, much of England’s nature is only really accessible if you can drive, especially as rural bus cuts continue to rise leaving those who live in the countryside and don’t drive increasingly isolated as well as limited who can explore these spaces.

CLIMATE REPARATIONS AND
LEGACIES OF COLONIALISM

For too long the history of the British countryside has been white-washed and the history of Black and Asian’s people’s presence erased. The rural idyll was a myth created by the ruling classes as they enclosed land (displacing the rural working class), intensified and industrialised agriculture and funelled the profits made from slavery and colonialism into the grand country estates that are the heart and pride of British heritage. 

Photo: Right to Roam

Even now, half of England is owned by 1% of the population with 30% belonging to the aristocracy which means that in many ways land has remained in feudal ownership models. Many of the merchants who benefited from colonialism married into the landed gentry or were granted titles, while many of the existing aristocracy pursued colonial ventures. In Corinne Fowler’s book, Green and Unpleasant Land, she traces the connection between British colonialism and the countryside. She finds that from 1700 onwards, colonial merchants collectively acquired around 789 country estates. At this time owning land gave you the ability to “secure electoral and parliamentary influence” as members of parliament were white male landowners. So many of our ideas that we associate with Rural England are implicated in colonialism: “the rural idyll was not just a sentiment and ahistoric evasion of privilege… but an attempt to conceal ‘the conquest, enslavement, robbery, murder…’ that lay behind landownership. The enclosures were funded by the “wealth from plantations”. Fowler states that the commodification of land and commodification of people went hand in hand. We cannot talk about the English countryside without talking about colonialism and its legacy. 

Today the countryside is seen as a sanctuary, an escape, from the harsh realities of the urban world. It is a storehouse of tradition, virtue and permanence while cities symbolise social change, immigration, anonymity and demographic shifts. This idea of sanctuary has never been true for those living in rural poverty. The English countryside has always been connected to the rest of the world, affected and reconstructed by changes in the globalised food industry, the increased mobility of people and production and so on. “This is also true of the past: the influx of colonial wealth and consumption of colonial goods has long linked the countryside with the rest of the world”. Ideas of rural community are emotional concepts that evoke feelings of neighbourliness, reciprocity, voluntary effort, interest in local affairs and so on – however these ideas are connected to a collective nostalgia which is removed from multiracial Britain. Rural England excludes British multi-ethnic values and sensibilities – the idealised values of a rural England will only endure if the village neighbour is white (Corinne Fowler).

EVENT ORGANISERS

Sam Siva
Nadia Shaikh

Sam Siva is a grower, writer and organiser with Land In Our Names and Right to Roam. They love learning about eco-systems, watching cartoons, dancing, swimming and going on long walks.

Nadia Shaikh has worked in nature conservation for 15 years. She is interested in why the sector is the second least ethnically diverse (behind farming) and wants to start more conversations about decolonizing nature conservation. She enjoys going out and looking at nature, sitting around fires, snorkelling and making art.

Other groups

Land In Our Names (LION) – “A grassroots Black-led collective committed to reparations in Britain by connecting land and climate justice with racial justice.”

Black Girls Hike – “Providing a safe space for Black women to explore the outdoors. Challenging the status quo, and encouraging Black women to reconnect with nature, we host nationwide group hikes, outdoor activity days and training events.”

Muslim Hikers – “Inspiring Muslims to get OUTDOORS. Bismillah! ⛰”

Right to Roam – “A national campaign to expand the Countryside & Rights of Way (CRoW) Act in England so that millions more people can have easy access to open space, and the physical, mental and spiritual health benefits that it brings.”

Landscapes of Freedom – “A Sussex based collective of freewalkers dedicated to campaigning for the Right to Roam across the South Downs and beyond.”