We stand in solidarity with the Black community and the protesters demanding justice for the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. Police brutality and miscarriages of justice must end. We also recognize that we need to take a look at ourselves and our behaviors, do the work, and take concrete steps to address systemic racism in our local community. As local climber Brittany Leavitt has challenged us all:
“I will continue asking these questions. What is your next move? How are you going to step up for the Black community?”
MAC’s mission is to preserve access to climbing areas in the Mid-Atlantic region, while promoting responsible climbing and environmental stewardship. For years, we have looked at the issue of access through the lens of whether or not the land manager allowed climbing. In recent months, and far too late, we have begun to think more about the meaning of access and what responsible climbing entails. Climbing areas, as well as the typical “climber” bars, restaurants, or campgrounds, may not provide a safe space for everyone. Our events may not be accessible if there are barriers to participation, such as transportation or if a person doesn’t see themselves represented in our organization. Historically, climbing has been a sport populated by the privileged few. In more recent years, this has begun to change, but access to the sport for all individuals remains flawed. Climbing in of itself may not be accessible to many Black Americans in our region due to the outcomes of hundreds of years of oppression. What is preserving access if it wasn’t truly there to begin with?
Promoting responsible climbing cannot be disconnected from working to create safer spaces at our crags and in our community. Our board is committed to listening, to learning, to having tough conversations, and to moving towards a more inclusive organization. We will stumble, and we encourage you to call us out when we do.
We want to acknowledge there are groups that have been doing the work in the community, including Brown Girls Climb, Outdoor Afro, Brothers of Climbing, Melanin Base Camp, City Kids Wilderness Project. We are missing many. Follow. Support. Donate if you can. Black Lives Matter.