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Why SheJumps Takes a Stand against Racism—and You Should, Too

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

Author's Edit: We would like to specifically call out the actions taken against black people, and do not wish to confuse the larger topic of “diversity” with the specific actions that have been ongoing for the hundreds of years. To combat anti-blackness, we do believe in sharing resources that go beyond the term “diversity”. As acknowledged in the post, this work is a journey and we do not wish to forego engagement at the risk of being wrong, so thank you to our audience for pointing out the need to specifically identify the actions taken against the black communities. Thank you @tinyhumanespresso for your emotional labor and engagement to ensure we add this detail.

Nothing we say or do as an organization matters if we live in a world where black and brown people fear for their lives in the outdoors and beyond. Ahmaud Arbery’s murder was singular in a multitude of devastating murders that underscores the deep racial divide in our country. More recently, the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are added to that list. It’s easy to wave a hand and say “we’re not a social justice organization,” but ultimately embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is core to making a better world, and it’s core to the evolution of SheJumps. Our mission is to increase the participation of ALL women and girls in outdoor activities, and that mission is fundamentally tied to equity. As an organization, SheJumps stands against these injustices and commits to building an equitable outdoor community where our platform and programs support and promote equitable participation, safety, and access for all in the outdoors.

Before I became aware of the mistakes I was making when it came to DEI work, it was easy to think that good intentions would suffice; that being friendly and passionate would be enough to make everyone feel welcome. But it's a position of privilege to believe that welcoming and including are the same thing.

A central tenet of SheJumps’s ethos is based on the concept of taking risks to live a life of adventure, potential, and growth. But taking risks isn’t just about backcountry skiing or traditional climbing, it is also working to disrupt the subtle but powerful elements of institutionalized racism. An example of this would be for our organization to approach what happened to Ahmaud Arbery or George Floyd as if it’s not our business to interfere because they’re a male and because we’re not a social advocacy organization. But that, too, would be a decision based in privilege.

SheJumps is committed to doing the work required to become an organization that represents the diverse human landscape of this country. Through this work, we acknowledge:

1) Access to the outdoors is not equal and has been restricted at an institutional level since the beginning of colonization.

2) The future of outdoor recreation depends on our commitment to DEI efforts from an economic, social, and environmental justice standpoint.

As an organization, SheJumps has been committed to the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) for the past 18 months. We have a DEI committee that works to create foundational shifts and strategies around a comprehensive DEI plan. Our goal is to weave a DEI lens into every decision we make, not simply fill our social media channels with black and brown bodies. We recognize that this work is ongoing and will never be done. It's work we are dedicated to, but we are also realizing that we have failed to address it more openly, both internally and externally, for fear of making a mistake—a common theme amidst DEI work. We are committed to more transparency with our ongoing efforts. Dismantling the system of oppression needs to start by shining a light on it.

We recognize that we are a predominantly white organization that struggles with diversity. We commit to using our platform to instill change. We aim to provide more visibility, representation, and education that contributes to a more diverse outdoor community. Our community needs to be one that creates a safe space for all people of color to be celebrated. Individuals should be uplifted and encouraged, supported and embraced, and seen as whole people not minorities with an asterisk as part of a single outreach program.

I want to acknowledge the many BiPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) who have shared their emotional labor and input to our organization over the years to help us understand our blind spots and implicit bias. As we continue to push forward, we want to invite our community to join us. We will continue to share resources that move and educate us, and that do not educate white people at the expense of BiPOC. We hope you’ll take time to engage and sit with these resources, share them with your community, and send us links to any resources you’ve found helpful for us to share in the future.

Thank you,

Claire Smallwood

Executive Director & Co-Founder

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