Brown Folks Fishing Tackles Racism and Inequality in Fishing Industry with New Pledge


From Brown Folks Fishing and Orvis:

Brown Folks Fishing (BFF), an organization committed to building community and expanding access among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in fishing and its industry, has launched the Angling for All Pledge. The pledge seeks to dismantle systemic barriers to entry and participation at all levels of the fishing industry. Joining the effort as the inaugural pledgee is The Orvis Company.

“Fishing has deep roots in the BIPOC community, yet our voices are vastly underrepresented,” says Tracy Nguyen-Chung, executive director of BFF. “We are proud to launch the Angling for All Pledge which establishes a commitment to equity and inclusion in the angling community. It is an opportunity for those within the fishing industry to cultivate the knowledge and understanding necessary to eliminate barriers and commit to radical and lasting change.”

The Pledge has been in development since late 2018 and is inspired by the work of Teresa Baker and the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge. It establishes a commitment to addressing racism and inequality throughout a pledgee’s internal culture, consumer-facing behaviors, and broader community. At its core is a curriculum developed by Brown Folks Fishing in partnership with Erica Nelson and Sydney Clark of REAL Consulting, an organization that works with clients to develop strategies for anti-racist organizational culture. The curriculum provides education and resources for brands and organizations to enhance equity and diversity across staff, executive teams, athletes, ambassadors, guides, and throughout the organization’s media and marketing.

“As Indigenous and Black women, our work at REAL builds upon our own experiences and perspectives, as well as those of other marginalized people,” says Erica Nelson of REAL Consulting. “The goal of the Angling for All curriculum is to identify issues of access and participation in the outdoors and provide the tools and resources necessary to move forward in solving these issues. Not all individuals or organizations are the same. We will work with businesses and professionals on an individual basis to establish a custom set of programming and initiatives that set participants on their own unique paths to eliminating barriers and creating change in the industry. Our workshops invite everyone, regardless of their background, to add to the narrative and ensure that it is continuously evolving and culturally relevant.”

As the inaugural pledgee, Orvis will work with REAL Consulting and Brown Folks Fishing to move through the pledge curriculum and create a plan of action upon completion.

“We are honored and grateful to have such a strong partnership with Tracy and the team at Brown Folks Fishing,” says Simon Perkins, Orvis president. “Their mission to build capacity, access, resources, visibility, and a solid community for anglers of color makes the sport stronger, and we are excited to sign the pledge as an acknowledgment of our commitment to this critical work. This is an opportunity for us to explore our own blind spots and unconscious biases and an important step forward in Orvis’s history of passion and commitment to access, inclusion, and stewardship in fly fishing.”

Those who successfully complete the Pledge will have the opportunity to be included in the BFF Directory, which features Brown Folks Fishing’s recommendations for guides, instructors, experiences, shops, brands, and organizations from across the industry committed to equity and inclusion. The Directory will be available publicly as an information resource to anglers.

Guides, instructors, outfitters, media platforms, organizations, brands, companies, and other professionals across the fishing industry are encouraged to apply. For more information and to apply to the Pledge, please visit:


Brown Folks Fishing is a community-based organization founded in 2018 by and for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) anglers. We cultivate community for BIPOC in fishing and its industry. BFF is a space to build together and a movement to expand access. We do our work through storytelling, grassroots organizing, events, and community-building.

Our work is as much about stoke as it is about our survival. We seek to re-imagine fishing as a gateway to conservation. We reimagine because the framework of conservation as it exists is deeply rooted in white supremacy, erasure, and colonialism. We reclaim and lift up the narratives that Black and Brown people have with deep roots in fishing, and connection to land, water, and community. By reclaiming these roots, we can shift the narrative around who is, can, and should be on the water; whose full selves can be brought to the water.


REAL (Reconcile, Evolve, Advance, Lead) Consulting believes that anti-racist education involves a life-long commitment to the practice of seeking to understand ourselves, people, and our shared environment. REAL strives to build a customized durable foundation for clients at all points in their journey toward an anti-racist organizational culture. We reach this together by emphasizing personal reflection, interdisciplinary historical analysis, and compassion for people. Founded in 2018, Sydney Clark and Erica Nelson saw the need to weave our personal stories into our curriculum led with storytelling combined with executive leadership development, as this builds authenticity and trust toward a more equitable outdoor community.


Founded in 1856, we believe the most meaningful experiences are created by sharing the love

of nature and being inspired by its endless possibilities. Orvis pioneered the mail order industry in the United States, operates more than 80 retail stores in the U.S and the U.K., and maintains a network of over 400 dealers worldwide as a trusted source of discovery and adventure in the natural world. We promise to open the door to extraordinary outdoor experiences, and to protect nature by committing 5% of our pretax profits each year to conservation efforts worldwide.


1 Comment

  1. Gerardo Ramos on

    An old friend of mine, knowing how much I love to flyfish, emailed me the link to Brown Folks Fishing. We’re both “Brown,” and were both active in leftist Chicano causes during the 70’s. He remained in the cities. I moved to California’s Eastern Sierra over 30 years ago. I opened the link to Brown Folks Fishing and began to read. I immediately found it amusing, because I thought it was a parody of the fatuous, delusional notions that often bubble up out of the heads of persons desperate to polish their credentials as “woke” individuals. I really thought it was a send-up of the inane, fashionable posturing seen among academicians and politicians who are locked into the liberal paradigm. I even found myself laughing out loud. However, as I read on, it dawned on me: these people are saying this shit in earnest… They are actually serious. I continued reading, right down through the “Angling for All Pledge,” which I found especially hilarious. Again, I had to wonder: what planet do y’all live on? I don’t know that I’ve ever read more ridiculous, pretentious gobbledygook.

    I am a Mexican-American, the son of immigrants. Flyfishing was not part of my heritage, but that did not stop me, some forty years ago, from buying a flyrod and learning to tie flies. I found myself innately attracted to flyfishing because I expected to find it more enjoyable than bait or lure fishing, and no white person anywhere – merchant, angler or conservationist – has ever discouraged me from pursuing this sport. Most of the Raza that I know – fellow Mexicans or Chicanos – who have watched me or accompanied me while I flyfished, have shown little interest in learning my kind of angling. When I describe to them the pleasures of hiking up into the high country, and of catch-and-release, I usually get a deer-in-the-headlights look. But in the end, who am I to insist they convert? More importantly, who am I to claim that white society has denied them the choice to flyfish? I refuse to give any merit to such an inane myth.

    I quote here just one of the gems from the text in the Brown Folks Fishing website: “The framework of conservation as it exists is deeply rooted in white supremacy, erasure, and colonialism.” This could only have been written by politically or financially motivated opportunists, intent on exploiting the unexamined assumptions of pin-heads who are slaves to radical chic. Like, yeah, I’ll pay you $250, so I can say I’ve been knighted under the Angling for All Pledge and expound on the evils of white conservationism to my as yet un-woke friends…

    The country is going through a crisis of distrust and disunity – the kind of crisis where self-serving politicians and entrepreneurs have a field day. There are great numbers of white folk in our country who may not have great sympathy for so-called “liberal” or “liberation” policies, but who would be quite willing to live with a sane, anti-racist agenda that truly promotes diversity– one by which they are not ideologically vilified by careerist, virtue-signaling academicians and politicians. When people see more and more of the kind of pretentious rhetoric that you are using, they become prejudiced against, and scornful of, anything that even smells progressive or “liberal,” especially when it floats on a rationale that generalizes them as villains. Some people finally feel so fed-up and disrespected, that they will do something as desperately stupid as vote for a racist, ignorant, grotesquely narcissistic demagogue like Donald Trump.

    Your pretentious, virtue-signaling foolishness does nothing for the common good, and most of the people you claim to speak for would only wonder at your presumptuousness.

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