Kween Werk Tackles Injustice on TikTok—And IRL

Kween Werk calls herself a “social media diva” and she sure makes the concert look fun. In any given post, she might have fun on the beach or teach a clumsy Governor Jared Polis to dance, always in bright glasses and coaster-sized earrings. Upon closer inspection, however, her posts take on deeper meaning, even her simple hiking videos.

“I introduce myself as myself, a fat black woman in the outdoors, where many times people are surprised to see me, and I talk about my experiences,” says Parker McMullen Bushman, the 43-year-old Denver resident behind the TikTok Account. “I hope to be a source of light and positivity on these matters.” She has amassed more than 210,300 followers since her 18-year-old niece introduced her to TikTok during the early days of the pandemic, when Kween was born, an acronym for “keep expanding environmental engagement narratives.”

Kween Werk may be new, but McMullen Bushman has been focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for nearly a decade. He began his career teaching ecology at a YMCA camp in Michigan, where she first realized how few blacks work in conservation. The Bronx native moved to Denver in 2017 to accept a job as Vice President for Community Engagement, Education and Inclusion at Westminster’s Butterfly Pavilion. At the same time, McMullen Bushman held a side concert as the founder of Ecoinclusive, which consults with environmental groups to better serve a diverse audience and advocate for social justice. Last summer he left the Butterfly Pavilion to focus on the company and his latest project, Inclusive Guide.

Billed by McMullen Bushman as “Yelp, but for inclusion,” Inclusive Guide launched in June as a crowdsourcing website. Users fill out a profile based on their identities, from race to whether they have tattoos, then review shops, parks, and other public spaces. While negative reviews are allowed, he says, “it’s about supporting and improving companies that are doing well.” Organizations (attendees include the Denver Zoo, Butterfly Pavilion, Arvada Center, and Clyfford Still Museum) can also get free DEI training sessions and feedback reports on various demographics.

McMullen Bushman admits he has missed the more idyllic aspects of conservation work. “But I realized that the most important thing I could do for the planet right now is work on the DEI problems,” he says. “Let’s talk about environmental justice, climate change, which we need all there to solve these great world problems ”.

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I like McMullen Bushman’s roughly 500 TikTok videos have accumulated since joining the platform in 2020

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Pair of glasses owned by McMullen Bushman

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Miles he traveled on his recent Liberation Tour, a 17-day cross-country trip he took last summer to draw attention to black travels

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