The Brief Debrief
Last night, at the Mountain Shop in Portland, Oregon, women leaders in the outdoor community sat in front of an audience and discussed the intersection of race, gender, and the outdoor industry. We are so grateful to Ruby McConnell, Aisha Weinhold, Katie Crafts, and Kathryn Stevens for telling it like it is from their expertise, knowledge, and personal experiences. A full re-cap of our panelists and conversation will be coming soon in the form of essay and podcast episode. We are so thankful for the incredibly poignant, insightful, sharp, and informative discussion last night. Each leader brought something undeniably valuable to the conversation. We needed all of our voices to make that conversation as dynamic as it was. Some may wonder why we didn’t have any women of color on our panel. The outdoor industry as a whole does not make it easy for people of color, especially women of color, to get involved in such events like tonight. As white women, we gathered to utilize the privilege and platform we have to discuss the many (and there are oh, so many) problems with the outdoor industry, the failure of seeing people of color being a glaring one, arguably the only one. Because if you fix that, you fix a lot of problems!
It must be said that Ruby McConnell did us the service of pointing out that the outdoor industry is just that – an industry. Businesses are making money off of what we think is a commitment to the outdoors, however, it’s really just a commitment to rich, white people’s bank accounts. Shelling out thousands for that new AT set-up? Have you seen all of the oxygen tanks littering Mt. Everest? How can we think this industry actually cares about our impact when our very presence in the wilderness and consumption of the goods is one of the biggest reasons why we are freaking out about climate change (and if you aren’t freaking out, you should be).
One big takeaway from this event: we can do better. If you have “this much” privilege, you should be doing “this much” work. Kathryn Stevens made it clear and we agree, if you aren’t angry, you should be. The feminist movement is not perfect, but we do need feminism. As white women we have been failing women of color in this movement by excluding black, lantinx, Xicana, brown, women with disabilities, women who don’t look like a LuLu Lemon model, transgender, and queer women. These issues are firmly embedded in the national consciousness, yet we fail to talk about them over and over and over again, not just in the news, but in our own daily conversations. This Women’s March made that clear. The NAACP pulled out of the Portland’s Women’s March because when they asked the organizers of the march what were they going to do for people of color, the organizers responded with a clueless, “What does race have to do with a women’s march?” They got booted pretty quickly, and Margaret Jackson, a leading activist in Portland took over.
How can you do better in your life right now? Read and research. Get up to date about intersectional feminism (our friends at Bitch Media can help), because there is so much information, and a little bit of reading goes a long way. Then start a conversation. Practice your listening skills. Attend a non-violent communication workshop. These workshops are popping up everywhere. Get involved and attend workshops about these things. Support the women in your lives, whether it’s being there as a shoulder for them to cry on, being there in support of their accomplishments or failures, being there to go for a hike, if they need to a place to stay, or if they need a ride to work. There are so many ways that you can be there to support not only your inner circle, but the larger community too. Let’s all do better.
As always, send us your thoughts, criticisms, and concerns. With you in solidarity,
The Terra Team