Trail monitoring again

Latest in a series of posts on the environment

“Does race affect feelings of belonging on the D&L trail?”
“Reclaiming space: ‘Afros in Nature’”
“Trail monitoring”

In case you hadn’t noticed, that “Race and Space” program had a great impact on Gadfly.

And so far he has only talked about one aspect of the program. There were several that spurred his thinking.

He’s focusing so far on the idea that POC consider our trails as white space and feel uncomfortable there.

Should the population on our recreational trails reflect the colors of our city?

(Last night our president-elect said his cabinet will reflect the color of the country.)

(Recently, a couple Council members suggested that the color of the police force should reflect the color of the city.)

(How far should this proportionality carry?)

If so, people of color should on average make up just south of 40% of trail users.

Because of experience on the Saucon Trail Thursday and Friday that he has reported to you about, Gadfly got his mileage in yesterday on the D&L Trail — thinking that proximity to the Southside would mean more people of color on the Trail.

Now the basketball courts were an island of color — 100% POC — and they were packed to overflowing.

But of 130 people on the trail, only 25 were POC = 19%.

One half of what the color of the city population would lead you to expect.

Gadfly was pondering the meaning (if any) of his “research” on the way home.

Leaving Sand Island, he drove up Main St., which was packed.

People were swarming everywhere, like somebody had just kicked over an ant hill.

Felt like several hundred people. (Kudos to the Mayor and other City staff for facilitating congregating in the Northside downtown during the pandemic!)

It was around 4PM.

Joy was in the air. Energy. Excitement. A buzz.

The Gadmobile had to crawl (love those speed-humpers!), and it occurred to Gadfly to wonder what the color ratio was in the crowd.

Even going slow, he was not able to discriminate color accurately enough to count Latino/Hispanics.

But he can say for sure that there was not one Black person on festive Main St. at that time on a beautiful, warm fall afternoon.

Had enough?

Should Gadfly put his abacus away and find another train of thought?

One thought on “Trail monitoring again

  1. As with most statistics, demographic proportionality is more useful for raising questions than thinking it is an answer.

    WHY are there fewer POC on the trails, Main Street, and in the police department and the rest of the city administration?

    • Do they feel less than fully welcome?
    • Are marketing and recruiting efforts designed only by white people, and is that part of the problem?
    • Considerable effort is expended to market the trails, downtown, and events? Is an equivalent effort made to market to POC?
    • How about recruiting efforts for city staff and especially for the PD?

    At the same time, it’s important to remember that proportionate staffing in PD does not necessarily mean problem solved — it’s often the case that POC serving as officers are pushed into conforming with the existing culture. As a result, we see police departments where performance by officers of color is just as problematic as performance of white officers. And just as there are a few white people who go into policing for the wrong reasons — such as liking the authority and power it conveys — the same thing can happen with a minority candidate.

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