Growing up, Tanya Walker never saw people of color like her doing outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking and cycling — so she decided to change that.
Walker is the founder of Black Women Who Kayak +, a group designed to encourage people of color to participate in recreational sports seen as predominantly white spaces.
While Walker had a strong urge to venture outdoors as a child, those in the Black community just didn’t have the same exposure to these types of activities as other ethnicities.
“There was no marketing for people of color that did any of these things,” Walker said. “You just didn’t feel like it was something that you could do or that it was open for 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’re trying to break down that mentality to say, why? Why not? It’s open for everybody and we should be able to do anything that everybody else does,” Walker said. “And so Black Women Who Kayak is opening up those doors for there to be not a question of why, but when?”
Since its creation in 2018, Walker has hosted several events in activities like kayaking, rowing and cycling in the Austin area. The group has been able to partner with places like the Texas Rowing Center and the British Swim School. Walker says 20 women are now a part of the rowing community because of Black Women Who Kayak.
Walker hopes that these aren’t just one-time events but an opportunity for people of color to continuously hold space in these activities.
“(By) just coming into our platform is stepping outside of their comfort zone and allowing us to plant the seed. And that’s basically what we’re doing is we’re planting the seed of curiosity in hopes that they will continue this,” Walker said.