Local organizations are joining a nationwide conversation about racial injustice.
They say racial conflict is a serious problem in the Adirondacks.
The Adirondack Council is drawing renewed attention to racial bias, naming Lake George and cities in the area, as places where they say people of color are mistreated.
“It’s an incident that is a common incident if you are a person of color,” Aaron Mair, 57th President of the Sierra Club, said.
Common to be the target of a racially motivated attack in the Adirondacks.
It happened to Mair two summers ago at Schroon River. For a young couple, he says it was at a Lake George restaurant.
“They were denied not only service but they had to endure the additional taunt and insult by the waiter, and the manager, who humiliated them because of their race.”
A similar incident at Starbucks is also fueling a nationwide conversation about racial injustice.
Customers are protesting after two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia store. They asked to use the bathroom while waiting for a meeting. A white employee dialed 911 minutes after the men arrived.
The Adirondack Council says education is the first step to dismantling racism.
The organization is calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to require state employees and contractors to complete racial bias and inclusion training.
“We’re a big diverse state in New York. But we don’t always treat one another that way. I think that we have to learn how and we’d like to start in the Adirondacks,” John Sheehan, Director of Communications with The Adirondack Council, said.
Mair says the region’s breathtaking beauty has been marred by racial bias for too long.
“When a person of color does not have the equal accommodations and equal access and just the freedom of enjoyment of our scenic wild and natural places, that is a huge problem.”
The answer goes beyond education and training and the Council hopes to see diversity positions created within every state department.