EXCLUSIVE: Oprah talks to ABC7 about busting stereotypes between African Americans and nature

Kumasi Aaron Image
Wednesday, February 26, 2020
EXCLUSIVE: Oprah talks to ABC7 about Outdoor Afro
ABC7's Kumasi Aaron got the chance to talk to Oprah about the Outdoor Afro program which is helping to bust stereotypes that African Americans don't enjoy camping and hiking.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Meeting and greeting Oprah for a hike is something Rue Mapp could only dream about eleven years ago, when her group, Outdoor Afro, was just a blog.

"We are here to do a healing hike with Outdoor Afro," Mapp told Oprah Friday at Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland. "I love it," Oprah replied.

Mapp started the hike speaking to Oprah and the other hikers in a circle.

"And we like to ground ourselves with outdoor afro by acknowledging what we love about nature," Mapp says.

After sharing Mapp and Oprah led the hike through the redwoods, where after a moment, she invited hikers to look up and to look within.

VIDEO: Watch Kumasi Aaron's full exclusive interview with Oprah

Watch ABC7 Mornings Anchor Kumasi Aaron's full interview with Oprah.

"The redwoods remind me of two things," Mapp told the group. "Regeneration. After being clear cut. And connection."

Oprah added, "Whenever anything is off or off-balance in my life like last week we had a crazy week and I literally just go out under the oaks which I call the apostles which form a grove for me and then the redwoods in the front yard. And I find peace and sanity there. So thank you for this opportunity.

After the hike, there was a lot of excitement!

"Oh my god," says hiker Nicole Payez. "I cannot believe Oprah just hiked with us."

Payez says the hike was also confirmation.

"Well, personally, I have some decisions in my life right now that I need to make," Payez says. "And that moment when we stood and we talked about the redwoods being connected and that's why they may sway but they don't break, it really helped me come to piece so that the decisions I need to make in my recent future, it kinda just happened right there."

Oprah had a good time too.

ABC7 News Anchor Kumasi Aaron asked Oprah what brought her to Oakland.

EXCLUSIVE: Oprah talks to ABC7 about WW 2020 Vision Tour, bringing people together

"Well first of all, when I heard that there was something called Outdoor Afro and that Outdoor Afro is breaking the illusion that people of color don't enjoy the outdoors and experience healing and empowerment from it. That's right up my alley"

"The experience that she had is the experience that we have all over the country so I'm so thankful," Mapp reflected.

Mapp started Outdoor Afro for people who loved the outdoors and wanted to see themselves online and in person.

"I felt like for a long time I was the only one," Mapp says. "But what happened was the blog was a platform for a lot of people to say 'I love nature too'. I realized that we just had a representation problem. That we were connected, we were outside but we didn't see ourselves in those magazines."

Now, Outdoor Afro has grown from humble beginnings in Oakland to nearly 40,000 people in 30 states.

EXCLUSIVE: Oprah goes on East Bay hike with 'Outdoor Afro' before wellness tour stop at Chase Center

And she hopes this is just the start.

ABC7 News Anchor Kumasi Aaron asked Mapp what difference she hopes Oprah's visit might make.

"Well I think it has an opportunity to shine a light of hope," Mapp says. "Of connection in times where people might not feel as connected. You know in times when cities don't feel like friendly places. We can shine a light on a beautiful park like Joaquin Miller Park and let people know

that nature is so close, it's right in your backyard.

Outdoor Afro is open for anyone to join, whether you have an afro or not! The group meets up every month for different adventures around the Bay Area. Learn more about Outdoor Afro here.