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BCM: In Support of Justice and Black Lives Matter

We at Big City Mountaineers support the Black community in seeking justice for the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and the countless others that have lost their lives and livelihoods to systemic racism via police and vigilante violence. We are listening to all the grief and rage, both from staff of color and our greater communities. And we are committed to doing the work required of us as an organization serving Black youth to be anti-racist, supporting our students in ways that respect their voices, their opinions, their autonomy, and their needs.⁠

…Still not sure what Black Lives Matter has to do with Big City Mountaineers? ⁠

People like to say that the outdoors is an apolitical space. You’ve probably heard things like “Nature doesn’t discriminate” in response to concerns from Black and brown people about racism and physical safety in the outdoors. And while that’s true about nature, we share those spaces with other people, too.⁠

We could talk about Christian Cooper and the attempted assault-by-proxy that happened in Central Park, but…⁠

…we’ve seen our students express concern at getting out of the van in rural communities, because they know being Black or brown in those spaces could be dangerous.⁠

…we’ve seen law enforcement confront students who were fishing, and who they perceived as unlicensed troublemakers attempting to flaunt the law.⁠

And while it might be well-meaning, we’ve seen group after group question what our students are doing in the wilderness in the first place. When it happens that often, you start to get the sense that you don’t belong there.⁠

And that’s just what *we’ve* seen. What have our students picked up on that we haven’t?⁠

Prejudice follows Black and brown people everywhere – sometimes to a life-threatening degree. EVERYONE deserves to feel safe, both in the backcountry and in the frontcountry. We’re committed to making sure our students not only are physically safe on our trips, but feel emotionally safe, too – and we’re committed to the task of self-work, examining programs, partnerships, trainings, and processes that will get us closer to that goal.

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