Hooded warblers are lucky. They can wear hoodies and no one asks questions or feels threatened. Vigilante ’Mericans don’t mobilize to make citizen’s arrest if they loiter in a strange shrub for too long.
No one denies the eye-bending beauty of a painted bunting by saying “I don’t see color.”
Roadrunners don’t get gunned down for jogging through neighborhoods, do they?
Why are some immigrants accepted and others not? Asking for a European starling.
Double-crested cormorants are insulted at still being known as “nigger geese” by some. Can they at least get “Negro” as a nomen?
Why do people cry and set music to far-away murmurations; the swirling, whirling, wheeling aerial ballets of flocking birds—but then hate the very same birds up close? Asking for the same European starlings from #4 and lots of befuddled blackbirds.
Wondering if some white people tell crows and ravens how impressed they are with their articulate intelligence, as if blackness precludes the confluence? Wondering if the corvids tire of it. I do.
Has there ever been a white bird as hated as a black or brown one?
Birds don’t mind if we misidentify them, ’cause they know who they are without our labels. What they truly despise is the disrespect of habitat destruction, pollution, hordes of free-roaming outdoor cats, and the catalog of stupid things humans do to make their already difficult lives harder.
PC: Jose G Gonzalez, MeXicano Founder, Emeritus Latino Outdoors
Words: By J. Drew Lanham, Ph.D. Distinguished Alumni Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University where he studies the intersections of race, place, and conservation, with wild birds as the conduit for understanding. He is the Poet Laureate of Edgefield, South Carolina, and the author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair With Nature and Sparrow Envy: Poems. Buy his books at one of these Black owned bookstores.