So have you been to Griffith Park recently? I went for a short hike there this morning for the first time in a month or so. The first time this year. (I’ve not been hiking much the last month due to several things, including waiting for a full recovery from my mysterious vertigo which still pops up from time to time…)
Well, I had a nice hike, and cleared away some cobwebs in my head, which was nice to do. I’m in the middle of writing two research papers, and reading a great deal of material for a search committee I’m on (meeting imminent) and so a bit of clearance is good.
The thing is this. The park was with teeming with people, of a broader range than is usual for the park, in those numbers. Not sure why, but it was good to see. Is it all those New Year’s resolutions? People resolving to use the city’s wonderful park areas more? To get more exercise? Fresh air? Whatever the reason, I’m hoping it’ll last.
You might wonder what I’m talking about, but I always feel that the park is strikingly underused for a city of this size, and further, that it is particularly underused by some groups, which fills me with dismay at times. It is part of the somewhat divisive way things are arranged in the city along ethnic lines that still does not sit well with me at times, as much as I love the city. I’m often the only black person I see in Griffith park, for example, and it is exceedingly rare to meet other black people when I’m out on trails in the hills and mountains surrounding the city, such as the San Gabriels or the Santa Monica mountains and beyond to the North. I’ve commented on this before, such as one time a few years back when I was giving a presentation on careers in science at the Overcomer’s Church of Christ, a (mostly) black church in central LA. I mentioned it as what I see (rightly or wrongly) as an example of the kind of potent barriers which remain in the city (and elsewhere) along the lines of race, and the responses I got from some of the assembly confirmed what I suspected. Black people from some parts of the city (what are mostly considered to be the “black” parts) often don’t think that they “belong” in some other parts of the city, even though it is to use free resources that they’ve helped pay for with their taxes. There is a feeling (originating within or without – probably a combination of the two) of being unwelcome. It starts with parks, but extends to public libraries, museums and observatories, and eventually to career choices, in some cases. There are of course several other factors, of course, but to my mind, we are losing many smart young children of colour from careers in science at a very early stage due to such issues of perception about belonging.
Anyway, as I was saying, it was nice to see Griffith park being used by many people this morning, including more black people than just me. Makes me feel good about 2010 for some reason. It might seem odd, my noticing these things, but they matter to me a lot.
I’m happy to say that I expect to get back into my routine of regular hikes to get the blood flowing, clear the head, and breathe the air. It’s good to be back in the saddle, as it were.