A Scottish accountant insists he and his hiking buddies never break the rules, but are labeled as cats and reported to rangers by other hikers because they are black.
Enoch Adeyemi is the co-founder of Black Scottish Adventurers and often ventures out into The Trossachs National Park with groups of up to 60 walkers.
The father-of-two is passionate about getting black people to hike, but says the Scottish outdoors is ‘very white’ and they ‘stick out’ when they go exploring.
He claims some white people ‘assumed this is their place’ and get ‘really outraged’ when they see black walkers.
The keen hiker says every group hike is plagued by incidents where white hikers make ‘condescending’ comments, asking them not to leave litter and turn off their music.
The Nigerian-born hiker also slammed park rangers, claiming they ‘perpetuate the cycle of ignorance’ by taking such complaints seriously and confronting them about it.
Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority said its rangers take the same approach to all individuals and groups, regardless of ethnicity or background.
But added that they ‘strive to make the national park a place that is accessible and welcoming to all’ and take Mr Adeyemi’s complaints ‘very seriously’.
Enoch Adeyemi, from Edinburgh, Scotland, says some white hikers treat his group differently based on race
The auditor claims he and his walking friends from the Black Scottish Adventurers are labeled felines and ordered to turn off music from their speakers by other walkers
Sir. Adeyemi says the Scottish outdoors are ‘very white’ and they ‘stand out’ when exploring
Sir. Adeyemi from Edinburgh, Scotland said: ‘My post on LinkedIn is about the downside of going into the mountains.
‘When we go hiking, we don’t see other black people hiking. Hiking is seen as a thing for white people – not that there is anything wrong with that.
‘White people generally wander, black people generally don’t, it is what it is.
‘White people are so used to going out and only seeing other white people, so I think it was a shock to the system when we started going out and hiking in groups.
So some of these people will go and complain to the rangers. The next thing the rangers come up to us and say ‘we’ve received complaints about your group making noise and littering the floor’.
“We’re not breaking any rules, but because we’re exploring the mountains our way, I think it’s a shock to the system for most people.”
The group of up to 60 walkers walk around Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park (pictured)
Recently the group took to the Pentland Hills with around 60 colleagues from across Black Professionals Scotland corporate partners and were able to raise over £2,000 for charities including Parkinson’s UK.
Sir. Adeyemi says his group enjoys playing music while on their treks, which he admits is not the case for most trekkers.
He said: ‘For most people, hiking is about going up quietly and going down quietly.
‘For us, we play music all the way, to the point where you don’t feel like you have to climb the mountain.
‘People have confidently stopped us and asked us to turn our music off. I think ‘why do I have to turn off my music?’
“Just because white Scots enjoy nature in one way doesn’t mean black people have to enjoy it in exactly the same way.
‘It is their condescending tone that they use to speak to us, telling us not to litter and leave only our footprints.
‘Recently I went out with a predominantly white walking group, we experienced none of that.
‘We were 60, but no one came to us to tell us to leave only footprints or make any condescending comments.
‘I thought, ‘that was interesting, we went on a hike without drama’. We were in a big group and playing music, but had none of the problems we usually have’.
The father-of-two believes he and his group are being unfairly reported to rangers because of their race
The environmentalist dad, who always has a plastic bag to collect their rubbish in, believes the incidents are racially motivated with walkers assuming black people will litter.
Sir. Adeyemi said: ‘I think it depends on our skin colour. It’s not that we’re a big group, it’s that we’re black.
‘People see us and think ‘they’re going to litter’.
‘I don’t know why that is. There can be the mentality that a bunch of black people coming together means they’re going to cause trouble.
‘There are multiple incidents on every walk, whether it’s getting aggro or grief, it’s non-stop.
‘We’d just be out by the lake and have the rangers turn up and say ‘we’ve had noise complaints’.
‘I don’t think the rangers are used to seeing people like us come to enjoy nature and that’s part of the problem.
‘We find that 99% of the time the rangers will come back and apologise. I’m just thinking, don’t tell me sorry, when you got that complaint, you should have shut it down.
In addition, he believes that there may also be cultural differences at play – and says that Africans tend to be more ‘animated’ and speak louder.
After sharing a post on LinkedIn about his experience hiking in Scotland, Mr Adeyemi received loads of support
Sir. Adeyemi shared his experiences on LinkedIn to share what the group has faced.
He said: ‘I spoke about this because you hear a lot of people saying that Scotland is not racist. I’m there thinking ‘I think you’re tall mate’.
‘I’m not saying Scotland is racist, but there are racist people in Scotland. I want to get that point across to people.
‘I want people to understand what they can do to be anti-racist. When people complain or do things that are intolerant, others should speak up.
‘If there’s one thing you can do when you hear racist comments, say ‘that’s discriminatory, that’s racist’.
‘These incidents have not deterred me from hiking. It has made me realize that society has a long way to go.’
LinkedIn commenters came to Mr. Adeyemi’s support and offered their sympathy.
One wrote: ‘I read this and I’m just sad. Sad because a similarly simple activity of going out into the open and enjoying the ‘wild’ reminds you again that you don’t belong here. It’s tiring.’
Another commented: ‘This is bull***t. But unfortunately the reality is too many. Every. Single. Day. Keep doing what you’re doing and let’s keep sharing stories to show what it is.’
Another supporter wrote: ‘Really sad to read this and this clearly highlights that we have a long way to go in Scotland to stamp out the bigots.
‘Stay strong and continue to enjoy the lovely parts of Scotland, I respect your resilience in dealing with the situations you have unfortunately encountered.’
Simon Jones, Director of Environment and Visitor Services at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, said: ‘We strive to make the National Park a place that is accessible and welcoming to all and the fact that a group that regularly visits park, feel they have been treated differently by other visitors because of their race, is something we take very seriously.
‘We condemn racism in any form and I have personally approached Black Scottish Adventurers to find out more about their experience.
‘Our Rangers engage with hundreds of visitors every week, of all ages and backgrounds, welcoming them and giving advice on how to enjoy their visit safely and responsibly.
‘If they receive reports on issues such as littering, the same approach of engaging positively with visitors and giving them advice is adopted. It is the same approach for all individuals and groups, regardless of ethnicity or background.
‘We know that there are barriers for groups with a minority background to gain access to the outdoors.
‘As part of our work to address these barriers, Zain Sehgal, co-founder of Boots & Beards – a charity helping Glasgow’s Asian and other minority ethnic populations to discover nature – has joined our board and is advising us on improving access for less represented groups.’