You may have noticed that we feature a black female rock climber on the cover of our guidebook (photo by Leslie Timms/Kyle Thomas). This was intentional. The cover woman is Sabrina Chapman, one of the strongest female climbers in Ontario making the first female ascent of the route “The Man In Me” (5.13d). Right now, we believe the cover features the first black woman on a guidebook.
The cover has generated plenty of discussions. Most of it has been positive (“It’s about time”, “She deserves it”). Some of it has been positive but loaded (“It was a good choice, but only because of the historic accomplishment, not race”). Some mixed (“Covers shouldn’t have an agenda”). And a very small minority have voiced their disapproval in passive-aggressive and other unpleasant forms. Good or bad, it’s important that it generates discussion.
The diversity theme is present in our Ontario route climbing guidebook as well as our Niagara Glen bouldering guidebook, which also features a visible minority on the cover. The cover choices were not as easy as it seems but were necessary, as discrimination still exists in the climbing and outdoor adventure communities. Thankfully, times are changing and climbing is becoming even more inclusive than ever!
This one is for the brown girls. The women of color, the biracial girls who never quite fit in, growing up having or wanting blonde hair blue eyed Barbie dolls, who were told that there was something inherently wrong or ugly with the black dolls. For the women of color who felt their entire lives that their features were less than perfect because they deviated from whiteness. That curls were too much and too distracting, that full lips and full eyes were flaws. We hid our hair, burned it, chemically altered it to become in the likeness of whiteness. We changed our tone, we watched ourselves twice as closely, we endured “where are you from, originally?” and hands on our hair without permission. We were told we were angry, too sassy, a problem in school for showing up. We see ourselves reflected so little in positions of power, advertisements, our careers and hobbies. And when we talk about these things at all we invariably upset a predominantly white audience. We grow up and live like we are somehow always wrong. . . Not all women strive towards whiteness. Not all women have these experiences. This is what we mean by intersectional feminism. . . Melanin queens, you are so beautiful. Whiteness has been seen for too long as the standard of beauty and perfection. We and our daughters and our daughters’ daughters will rewrite this story. We are worthy and beautiful. #browngirlsclimb #brownisbeautiful #blackisbeautiful . PC @rei