When I sat down on Monday morning to map out blog and social content for the week, everything seemed unimportant. I know that hundreds of thousands of Americans were protesting the unnecessary death of another black man and systemic racism more broadly this weekend, but let me tell you about how much I love the new Salomon Sense Pro 4. How tone-deaf.
So instead I opted to lay low, but not check out — the week has been an opportunity to watch, listen, and learn; to reflect on my own white upper middle-class privilege; and to consider if and how I could be part of a solution that would be more material than simply condemning racism or blacking out my Instagram feed but that would also be achievable for a company with one full-time employee that’s been upended by a global pandemic.
From very early on, my parents, teachers, and coaches led me to believe that I could do anything that I wanted. And I generally proved them right: I attended and ran at one of nation’s premier universities, Duke; I walked across North America and around the American West; I started a guiding business that hinges on the trust of complete strangers; and I bought a house in Boulder, Colo., that’s an 18-minute run from the famed Flatirons.
In a truly perfect Union, similar focus and hard work by a person of any race, gender, sexuality, or socioeconomic background would generate the same results. But obviously that’s not where we’re at, in neither outcomes nor opportunities.
On my Sea-to-Sea Route hike in rural North Dakota in spring 2005, a local policeman pulled up behind me because, “We received a report of a man with a backpack walking down the road.” When he told me that and asked for my ID, I thought he was joking. He wasn’t; but he was respectful and unassuming, and I was quickly on my way since I had a good story and no warrants for my arrest. Never did I think that I might end up like George Floyd or even Boulder’s own Zayd Atkinson, and never did it remind me of stern warnings from my parents about how to behave around the police.
To date, I’ve embraced few causes for the greater good, even those that are very close to home like the protection of public lands. They’re either not my fight or it’s not my time, my thinking has (selfishly) been.
So probably like many people and many small businesses, I’m at the beginning of the process, don’t necessarily know my eventual destination, and am intimidated by not knowing what I don’t know. To start I plan to borrow Amanda’s copy of Me and White Supremacy; longer-term I’m compelled to further diversity the guide roster (which has greatly benefited from female representation but which is still all-white) and to create a scholarship fund (which I’ve wanted to do but so far failed to implement).
I’m open to other suggestions. What do you think are appropriate and sustainable measures for an organization like mine to be part of the solution? And who and what would you recommend reading, watching, listening to, following, and donating to?