When Money is the Bottom Line: The Inclusion Problem in the Outdoor Industry

As I continued to attend the panels that addressed the issue of women empowerment, it became more obvious that the efforts made by companies were mainly driven by the fact that they benefit financially from catering to the marginalized segment of the market; hence, the point being, don't fool yourself into thinking these efforts are being done out of morality or altruism alone. Ultimately, it's the shift in the makeup of consumers that created the motivation for companies to finally give in as doing so translates into yet again accruing more wealth for themselves.

Casual Racism: A Conversation with Prince Shakur

Prince Shakur is a pro-black, feminist, lover of locs, queer with restless feet, writer, activist, and filmmaker who grew up in Jamaica and moved to the U.S. when he was young. Shakur has traveled extensively and holds an impressive resume of published written works and he's only 23. His essay, "A Black Traveler Confronts Racism at a Montana Resort," published recently in Outside magazine, provides an insightful and raw account of Shakur's time working and living in Big Sky, Montana, a remote ski town in the Rockies. In this interview, Shakur opens up about the nuances of taking up space, how everything is political, and the important labor of being honest. On taking up space, Shakur reveals, "I know every time I write something, every time I put something out on the internet, every time I wear a piece of clothing that has a radical message, I’m putting myself at risk, but I’m also demanding space that is mine because I’m a human being and I deserve to live, and it’s necessary. If I don’t do that then I’m not owning what I have, which I think is really, really necessary.”

Whiteness in the Outdoor Industry

Whiteness is upheld by all white people. White supremacy is ingrained in the founding of America. White people in America are settlers. White people wouldn't be in the positions they are in today had Indigenous peoples' not had their land stolen. We are existing on somebody else's stolen land. In terms of material goods, financial security, and ease of moving through the world, white people owe their claims to any of these things due to colonization. White people are the beneficiaries of the dispossession and continued elimination of Indigenous people. White people may be reluctant to this and they may not want to believe it. But it is true. So, how do we reconcile this? 

Sexual Assault and Violence Across Industries, and The Inaction of "Good" Men

#metoo inundated social media this last October to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem,” as Alyssa Milano wrote on Twitter. However, as journalist Britni Danielle pointed out, activist Tarana Burke, a Black woman, began the crusade ten years ago, particularly for women of color. The viral phenomenon came as no surprise because the magnitude of the problem is not just known to those who speak out. It is a burden that all women carry. And while it is important and powerful for women to speak up about their experiences, this media frenzy has revealed yet again that our society only pays attention when abuse happens to cis, straight, white women. This outrage and backlash against Hollywood male elites, while necessary and important, is white outrage. The only reason why mainstream media put these stories in the spotlight is because abuse is only intolerable if the victim is white. We must acknowledge that violence against women is happening all of the time, across all industries, and that it affects women of color and Indigenous women the most.

Interview with Jolie Varela on Payahüünadü, "The Place of Flowing Water"

Entering her 30th thirtieth year, Jolie has now dedicated her life to the health of her people. Since going to Standing Rock to resist the North Dakota Pipeline, Jolie has sought ways to bring the momentum home to Payahüünadü. She has organized many events to spread awareness about the water war going on between Payahüünadü and Los Angeles. South of Lone Pine, California sits the dry Owens Lake, which once held significant water. In 1913, due to the water being diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct, as well as for the use of cattle ranching, the Owens Lake water levels dropped. Now, as of 2013, Owens Lake is the largest single source of dust pollution in the United States.[1] For NPR, Kirk Siegler reported, “…it’s a salt flat the size of San Francisco, and when the wind blows, it can churn up huge dust storms with high levels of particulates that are dangerous to breathe.”

Exploitation of Native Imagery For Profit

Walmart selling Native images on products is only one example of the continued exploitation of Native imagery and culture. As Native people, we see how Native imagery has been co-opted by non-Natives to secure their own agendas – whether it’s pushed by capitalism, being the white savior, cultural appropriation, or even furthering the acceptance of pan-indianism. The dehumanization of Native people runs deep through the veins of this country.

Why You Did Write About the Closure

"During the legal proceedings of Bear Lodge Multiple Use Association versus Babbitt (1998) - the lawsuit over the climbing management plan at Bear Lodge (aka Devils Tower National Monument) - the judge suggested to the Cheyenne River Sioux attorney that the tribes had bigger things to worry about than some people climbing some sacred rock. Such attitudes, unfortunately, continue to this day, and were evidenced in some of the discussions earlier this summer among climbers regarding the voluntary June closure. A few blog posts were particularly outrageous, and this essay is a response to some of the harmful rhetoric, assumptions, and erasure contained within those posts. Because when 'getting along' means continuing a status quo of white supremacy and the erasure of Native American beliefs, voices, and existence, we can't just all 'get along.'" - Anna Kramer

The Bears Ears: Cultural Appropriation in the Outdoor Industry and Why “Public” Lands Are Not Public

The fight to keep the Bears Ears a National Monument has the outdoor community clamoring to speak on why this place is “spiritual” to them, that it summons “out of body experiences and how their athleticism is “ritualistic.” The erasure of Native American culture in popular outdoor media is a part of the institutionalized racism and violence towards Native American communities. The outdoor community is perpetuating the oppression of Native American communities through cultural appropriation[1]; by climbing on sacred monuments for recreation or paid work, white-washing or completely erasing the history of the lands, and stealing elements of Native American culture for profit. In the outdoor community thee is cultural appropriation in written accounts like Morgan Sjogren’s, “Run to the Sunrise,” which is complete with a photo of Sjogren posing with a feather in her hair, a sacred ritual for many Native tribes.

Cedar Wright’s Advice to Women: If You Want to be Taken Seriously as a Climber “Don’t Wear Booty Shorts!”

Wright dug himself a hole (without realizing it) on episode 106 of the Enormocast, a climbing podcast hosted by Chris Kalous. He tells women that if they want to be taken seriously as climbers that they shouldn’t wear booty shorts. This kind of humor deflects the real issue and reinforces rape culture. Blaming women for not being taken seriously because of their choice of clothing is akin to saying that a woman who was raped was asking for it. This places the blame on the victim. Without realizing it, Wright, through his language, has hit the nail on the head: we cement value to women based on what they wear. Women are held to value judgments solely based on their sex appeal through the white, hetero, cis male gaze.

All of the rhetorical aversions and desperate rationalizations that people often throw at women for standing up for their autonomous space gets exhausting. The industry is stagnate and slow to real change because the poster boys of climbing take up the majority of the space. The question is, are they willing to correct themselves and be advocates for women and minorities taking up more space? Thankfully, women like Kathy Karlo are here to re-write the narrative and create that space.

About Water

Activism is ramping up in the good-old-boy town of Bishop, California. "We are all water protectors,” Varela reminded the community at an event called, "About Water." The yoga studio was full of community members who gathered to support Jasmine Amara and Jen Fedrizzi during their inaugural event to raise awareness about water. “At this time it feels increasingly important for me to use art, music, and poetry as an avenue for healing, informing, and resisting,” reflects Amara on her personal website.Inspired by their relationship with water, and the knowledge that Los Angeles is draining the Owens Valley, Amara and Fedrizzi teamed up to create conversations about living harmoniously with our planet’s most precious life source. The work includes images from Payahüünadü, or the Owens Valley, which is one of L.A.’s main water sources today, as well as images of food trucks and concrete landscapes that contribute to water decimation.

Scorched Earth

The war on terror is not far away in the Middle East. It is right here, sitting with us right now. Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, Honor the Earth and movements like these keep me going. When someone says to me there’s no point, I think about Tawakul Karman, Aung San Suu Kyi, Angela Davis, Edward Snowden, bell hooks, Laura Poitras, Margaret Jacobsen, Diane Maxey, and my friend, Jolie Varela who lives here in Bishop, who is starting a cultural revitalization project here in the valley. It is time we connect on a deep, individual level with the people who we live among, the people who are sitting beside, and the people who are not here, who live off Barlow Lane, those who have ancestors resting under the dirt, largely unmarked, without tombstones, where often a dirtbiker will plow over their graves like its their God-given right.