Challenging Racism in the Outdoor Industry and the Light at the End of the Tunnel

posted in: Access, climbing | 0
Edith Han on Vulture Overlook. Credit Mark “Indy” Kochte.

Hello fellow Mid-Atlantic climbers! We hope that you have been able to stay safe and healthy this sweltering summer so far. The past few months has been an emotionally intense time for the climbing community as a whole, as voices that have been speaking up against racism in our community are starting to be amplified and listened to.

Amongst all of this, we would like to highlight some recent developments for you in hopes that we can continue to strive for an anti-racist and more inclusive climbing community.

  • First, we would like to applaud the Sierra Club for coming to terms with their own racist history. Read about the racist roots in conservation and the initial steps the Sierra Club plans to take to address these inequalities.
  • Unfortunately, racism is still very much prevalent in our outdoor spaces. In Oregon, if you look at the data, you’ll see that BIPOC, especially Black people, are underrepresented in our state and national parks. Melanin Base Camp has a fantastic article by Amath Diouf discussing the history of the white narrative of conservation and what it means to be a Black Muslim hiker. Caroline Hsu also shares her experience of racism in the American outdoors as a Korean-American.
  • Still tempted to “leave politics out of climbing?” Take a listen to Kathy Karlo’s most recent podcast (For the Love of Climbing) episode, “Light at the End of the Tunnel.” During this episode, Kathy talks to Connie and Kai Lightner about how systemic racism in the outdoor industry and other institutions continue to segregate and oppress Black people today. Go take a listen on your evening run or hangboarding sessions.
  • Speaking of Kai Lightner, did you see that he has started a new nonprofit, Climbing for Change? Climbing for Change was created to help provide opportunities and expand diversity and inclusion work in the outdoor industry. You can follow what they are up to on Facebook and Instagram and see what you can do to help.

And last but not least, Baltimore’s outdoor community bouldering gym, Pigtown Boulders, is in need of items for their first lot clean-ups in August. Please donate if you can!

This is by no means comprehensive. Please feel free to drop more suggestions to our audience in the comments.

– Edith Han