Burning Man Founder Blames Slavery for Lack of Diversity at Festival

While a recent report found only 1.3 percent of around 70,000 Burning Man festival-goers identify as black, its founder Larry Harvey has drawn his own conclusions centered on “historical issues” to explain the lack of diversity.

When speaking to the Guardian, Harvey suggested black people do not enjoy camping as much as white people, because it reminds them of slavery, per The Independent.

“I got a lot of criticism for once saying I don’t think black folks like to camp as much as white folks,” he said. “I think it’s a little much to expect the organization to solve the problem of racial parity. We do see a fast-increasing influx of Asians, black folks.”

Harvey continued:

Remember a group that was enslaved and made to work? Slavishly, you know, in the fields.

This goes all the way back to the Caribbean scene, when the average life of a slave in the fields was very short. And so, there’s that background, that agrarian poverty associated with things. Maybe your first move isn’t to go camping. Seriously.

Burning Man was a concept conceived by Harvey in 1986 as an experiment with a group of friends, and it has been an annual event held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert ever since.

As one of the festival’s 10 key principles is “Radical inclusion,” Harvey insists he will never set “racial quotas.”

He also added his ex-wife and children are African American, and his remarks were not meant to offend anyone.


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