And so, it begins…

I geocache.

What is geocaching?  It’s like a scavenger hunt happening all over the world.  People hide things (geocaches), and post the coordinates where those caches can be found.  Other people use GPS (and, in this day and age, cell phones) to find those caches.  Sometimes caches are big (I think the largest is literally a house), other times tiny (think tip of your little finger).  Sometimes they’re easy to find (obvious in an expected container), other times hard (fiendishly hidden in mind boggling ways).  Sometimes they’re easy to get to (the middle of your local convenience store parking lot), other times incredibly difficult to reach (there’s one on the International Space Station, for Pete’s sake!!!).  So millions of people all over the world hunt for the over three million active geocaches on Earth, poking, prodding, and investigating in secret places and in plain sight.  For me, however, there is an added complication…

I’m black.

Let us not be naive.  Being a black man living in America adds a certain amount of risk to many activities: driving, walking, vacationing, hiking, and any number of other pursuits, both mundane and extraordinary.  In fact, <insert variable here> “while black” is a commonly accepted term used to highlight the complications skin color can create in conjunction with other exploits.

Let’s see how they mix…

It is not lost on me that I, a black man, have taken on a hobby that could lead me into trouble.   While I offer my thanks to Pokemon Go for making a black dude wandering around looking at a cell phone far less suspicious, in the two months I’ve been doing this, I’ve been stopped by cops and security guards more times than I care to count (well, alright, seven if you must know) while other cachers in the forums have noted they’ve rarely or never been stopped in years.  Add to it the fact that geocaching is (at least in the West) a predominantly white pastime for several reasons, a fact backed up by a quick search for images of geocachers on Google or photos of geocaching events.  But I don’t honestly believe it’s the cachers themselves.  I recently attended my first local gathering of geocachers and while I was talking to one, I said that I had had a bit of trepidation about coming.  He replied “I hope it’s not because you’re a little tanner than the rest of us.”  My first, kneejerk reaction was shock and speechlessness (a state for which I am not known).  My second, more thoughtful thought was actually more like relief.  He noted a fact, signaled that it was of no consequence to him, and expressed his hope that I wouldn’t let it bother me, either.  And while I had intended to keep doing this regardless of what other people think, it was nice to feel that it might not be an issue I have to think too hard about among my fellow geocachers.

My point here (and I do have one) is the tagline:  I geocache.  I’m black.  Let’s see how they mix.

 

12 thoughts on “And so, it begins…

  1. Ok, so I came because of the NPR interview. My thoughts are irrelevant, as I can never experience your experiences. But the topic I had NEVER considered, until today. I am hooked. So after reading a half dozen entries, I had to go back to the beginning. Now, because I am a technological idiot, I don’t know how to be advised of new blog entries and what not. I watch the GCV and GeoCaching Kaity, and now I have a new avenue to investigate with your blog. The entries are well written, and it is a refreshing read. So Thank you for starting this journey.

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  2. Hi!!! I geocache while black and living in Indiana. I just discovered your blog. I’ve considered writing something and placing it on the geocaching.com website because recent events have led to me feeling more … exposed while geocaching. There has always been a bit of “here I am, a black person, trying to look “casual” as I peer closely at odd spots in fences and under bushes. That has been exacerbated by recent news. Honestly, I’m much more cautious about where cache alone and sometimes just take the DNF instead of standing around too long in one place.

    However, I still get excited going out and finding caches. I miss going to events but have avoided them since Covid started. I was in TX at the Mega and sorry to say I didn’t see you. However a few nice cachers welcomed me and said they were glad to see some diversity in caching. 😊

    Thanks for placing this here – I’m proud to count myself in the dozens of cachers who are not melanin-challenged and super happy to know there are others out there!

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      1. Yes, I was there. I saw 3 brown people there so may have seen you. Are you attending any Megas this year? We always go to MidWest Geobash in July and missed going this past summer.

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  3. Hi! I saw the link on the geocaching newsletter. I’ve only read this first one but wanted to send greetings from MN. Thanks for sharing your experience and insight.

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  4. I see you are going to be on Geocache Talk so I decided to follow the link and read your blog. Might as well start at the beginning. This is a subject that I’ve thought about quite a lot actually. You see, I geocache. Mostly alone. I’m a middle-aged white male. 6′ 1″, 275 lbs. I’m not saying I have anywhere near the risks that you have but I have a couple, near playgrounds, coming out of the brush along a bike trail.
    But mostly my thoughts on your situation have been “Why are there not more black people (my apologies if I’m not being politically correct) who geocache?” I’m going to continue reading your blog to see if you give the answer or if I need to come to my own conclusion. Welcome to the great game of geocaching, good luck, and hopefully we’ll meet on the geo-trail!

    Best regards,
    Neil Moore aka Kneel More

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