photo by Katie Sugarman
Race & Representation Outdoors
I have been an avid, non-professional rock climber since 2006. As part of a small community of Black and/or queer women in this sport, I actively participate in and support organizations across the country that are doing work to improve DEI in rock climbing, and write non-academic pieces on race and representation in outdoor sports.
We are a collective using art to explore our relationship to climbing as queer people of color. We want to create a climbing narrative stripped of the echoes of colonial domination, neoliberal self-determination, and patriarchal control-- and invite perspectives that re-member the earth to our collective stories, loves and traumas.
photo by Lam Thuy Vo
"Like learning to belay on an ATC, protecting others is a learned, embodied and habituated response to the need to care for one another, rather than relying on what Audre Lorde famously called “the master’s tools.” Instead of using a GRIGRI, participate in gris-gris by cultivating safety, protection and well-being for those who have been exploited. Instead of settling for representation, demand or provide reparation: Ask what it would look like to not only acknowledge Indigenous stewards, but redistribute the resources that companies like Petzl have accrued while appropriating the unacknowledged icons of Black and Indigenous peoples."
"If we are contaminants, we are the kind that infiltrate individualist, white-washed representations of place. And when we emerge from the trees to find a group of young girls of color staring in surprise, swapping admiration and sour plums, we know that this is our legacy. This is why we run. Not in shame, not because we are being chased, but toward a future in which running is a right to move anyway and anywhere we want to."