Theresa and I are heartbroken by the killings of Breanna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and many other black victims of police brutality. As a white man I’m embarrassed. It’s hard to believe how little progress our society has made in the 400+ years since slavery began. We believe in the Black Lives Matter protests, and see them as important steps to end systemic racism. We also believe in women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, body positivity, and saving the environment..
The fight to end racism starts with self awareness. In my case as a white man, that means seeing the privileges I get to enjoy every single day. If I want to go jogging I don’t worry.. If I want to stop for an ice cream at a store in a rural area while I’m on a climbing road trip and I notice a confederate flag, I don’t think about my safety. Listening to Black voices is helping me see more of what I take for granted and what others do not get to enjoy.
“We can’t go jogging without worrying about being lynched; we can’t go bird-watching without having the police called on us. Our children can’t go outside and play without us worrying about them being gunned down and labeled ‘suspects.’ We can’t sleep in our own beds without being executed. The same rights and protections that our white peers are afforded are not afforded to us. We can’t arm ourselves without being labeled thugs and shot.” – Michael Martin of Chicago
I am hearing from black and brown people how often rude and insensitive comments come their way when they recreate outside. Micro-aggressions, gas-lighting, stares, and on and on. These incidents are happening all all across the United States: in the Southeast, Northeast, the Rockies, and the West Coast.
We white people need to call racism out every time we see it. Black and brown people cannot get this done without whites doing our part. Yes we should donate, but that is not enough. We need to speak up even when it makes us feel uncomfortable.
Theresa and I appreciate the value of living in a multicultural community. We both grew up in San Francisco and we embrace the values of tolerance and diversity that shaped our childhood.
California Climbing School is committed to creating a safe and welcoming learning environment for all people on our programs, regardless of race, ethnicity, body type, disability, gender, age, sexual orientation, or religion. We are educating ourselves in how to be anti-racist and and talking to our son about racism and privilege.
We are working towards the day when black and brown people are hiking, climbing, skiing, fishing, biking, bird watching, collecting wild plants, sailing, and mountaineering just as often as whites.
We all need the therapy of the outdoors.