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Chockstone Forum - General Discussion

General Climbing Discussion

 Page 1 of 3. Messages 1 to 20 | 21 to 40 | 41 to 60
Author
(Institutional) Racism in Climbing?
spicelab
1/04/2011
1:14:44 PM
Time for something a bit controversial.

Reading this article (and the comments) about the lack of black-skinned cyclists I was reminded that I've often observed the same thing in climbing.

http://inrng.com/?p=2304

Given that climbing favours the naturally powerful and athletic, all things being equal shouldn't we expect to see by this stage in the sport's evolution people of black African descent with a strong presence at the high-end?

Anyone care to comment on what's going on?

tnd
1/04/2011
1:26:29 PM
It's similar to swimming, isn't it. I think it's not so much racism in the sport itself as kids' exposure to the sport amongst their social group. There are plenty of indigenous kids playing footy because that's what they see around them. And footy is a cheaper sport to play than cycling and rock climbing, which are essentially middle-class pursuits for people with the wherewithal to buy expensive equipment.

ambyeok
1/04/2011
1:28:58 PM
If you check out the quarying that went on at the top (or half way up!) araps you will see that Australian aborigines were infact the hands down leaders in the sport of free-solo.
Wendy
1/04/2011
1:49:45 PM
I've been poopooed for saying this before on here, but i still stick by it - Australia still has no lack of racism. My observations of the US, UK and France and other hotspots of climbing activity suggest similarly.

But as to climbing in particular, i'd say a few things -

Getting into climbing is often about who you know and where you live. The opportunity to try it needs to present itself in some way. This leads to some degree of homogeneity in the population.

Other than the odd group such as Brown and Whillans, climbing generally is a very middle class sport, and I suspect only getting more so. Even those of us living the climbing bum lifestyle are often uni drop outs or choosing not to utilise our govt sponsored education to the extent of our abilities.

Getting set up costs a bit and getting to crags involves time, transport and money. There's a whole bunch of stuff about priorities in here that is hugely different for people of different socioeconomic groups, cultures and disadvantaged backgrounds.
Sturge
1/04/2011
2:03:26 PM
To paraphrase Mallory;

"Because it's there and I'm white and middle-class"

nmonteith
1/04/2011
2:50:33 PM
It's certainly not racism - but opportunity. I've done a lot of climbing in America and I can only think of a couple of African American climbers I have ever met (one was Slo who runs the climbing guiding service at HaLong Bay in Vietnam).

I think it comes down to demographics a lot - African Americans live for the most part in poorer parts of the inner city - places with no rock, and no easy access to rock further away. You need cash to buy climbing gear and a reliable car. Both of these are not available if you are on minimum wage (which in America is about $5 an hour!)

The whities live in the mountain regions and outer suburbs and in the smaller cities and towns.

It's also very much a generational thing. Have a think about how you were first introduced to the outdoors, chances are it was either a family member or a local school or uni group. If none of your family had ever even been to the outdoors (a serious proposition if you lived in central LA or NYC) then you probably won't have much interest either.

Climbers certainly are not racist. They are one of the most welcoming group of people I have ever dealt with - a truly international band of brothers. Unlike many sports there is very little nationalism amongst climbers. On a roadtrip its very typical to be mixing day to day with people from all around the world - and to be getting positive encouragement and invites to stay from everyone!

One of the things I would like to see happen to make 'a better world' is for the outdoors to be introduced to the poorer inner city parts of our cities. I think for many urbanites the bush is a big scary place. Thus they don't put a real world value on it apart from a source of resources and material for documentaries. I think if everyone got a bush experience early on in life they might care about their impact a bit more...
Damo666
1/04/2011
2:56:55 PM
There's no money in climbing, so pretty much zero motivation for some people.

There are any number of studies, mostly in the US, that aim to examine the success of Afro-Americans in certain sports - sprinting, football, basketball mainly - and they usually come down not on the side of genetics (% fast twitch fibres etc) but:
- potential of the sport to offer a 'way out' (pardon the cliche) of poverty or other socio-economic disadvantage, and
- exposure in their childhood environments (tv, school and street etc)

And of course those go a little hand-in-hand. Poor inner-city schools don't go on weekend trips to the Rockies.

The potential financial rewards of certain sports are more obvious and attractive to some than others. ie. those of lower socioeconomic strata. That in itself is not inherently racist. Nearly all of us like money, at least a bit. The fact that a greater proportion of people in that strata may be non-white is obviously part of a larger question of race-based disadvantage.

nmonteith
1/04/2011
3:05:02 PM
another random thought... perhaps poorer African Americans feel that its better to succeed in a sport which offers more hope for financial benefits (basketball, football - heck anything that isn't climbing!).

Sort of the American Dream aspirational type situation. Work hard and then you'll succeed. Climbing doesn't really offer an opportunity to get out of a shit school, suburb, job and debts. A college football scholarship on the other hand can get a whole family out of deep trouble for many generations to come.

I think most middle class whities just don't realize how much of their 'success' has come from the fact that their descendants had decent jobs and property wealth. Aboriginal Australians didn't become citizens of their own country until the 1960s, and African Amercians were out and out slaves up until quite recently (historically speaking).

nmonteith
1/04/2011
3:06:26 PM
You beat me to it Damo666!

Miguel75
1/04/2011
6:26:35 PM
It's just another example of whitey holding the brother down!

nmonteith
1/04/2011
7:05:50 PM
Keep this topic positive and DO NOT even think about posting racial slurs.
Duncan
1/04/2011
8:23:24 PM
It amuses me that in a thread about racism, you all assume that all black people in Aus and the US are poor.

White trash
Online Now
1/04/2011
8:26:54 PM
On 1/04/2011 duncan wrote:
>It amuses me that in a thread about racism, you all assume that all black people in Aus and the US are poor.

wash your mouth out with soap my good man. not only are they poor but they are also often considered to be filthy!
(sarcasm intended)



On 1/04/2011 nmonteith wrote:
>Keep this topic positive and DO NOT even think about posting racial slurs.

i am considered white trash by my darker, and more mellow, complexion mates.
is what they say to me, and I say to them while out climbing, considered a racial slur?

given that the topic is (Institutional) Racism in Climbing, the moderators on this site seem to be overly precious in their attitude in my minor opinion.

i did not always agree with Whinging panther, and neither do I always agree with the wet slippery wide identity, or the someday hero, but they have made me think and reinforced my belief that Australia has become too politically correct especially when debating racism.

i doubt the moderators of this site will let this post stand too long, as it will likely affront their senses.

freesolo
1/04/2011
8:30:51 PM
there are historical as well as socio-econ reasons which apply not just to climbing. winter sports originated in northern europe at a time when ethnic groups were not mixed. even though skiing has been a popular sport for 2-3 generations, it is only popular in certains regions. surfing as well follows this trend somewhat. certain geographical regions lend themselves to skiing and surfing.
and it is not solely about AfricanAustralians. percentage wise, few Latinos are skiers, climbers, surfers. And of course, the socio-cultural bondage/ boundries of Islam prevent that group from participating.
there is of course the start-up costs and operating costs as mentioned above as well as future potential financial rewards. and of course, the media, whether climbing mags, hollywood or simply the news outlets, have rarely, if ever, highlighted, celebrated or mentioned non-majority ethnic groups in any of these sports.

Miguel75
1/04/2011
9:17:53 PM
On 1/04/2011 spicelab wrote:
>Time for something a bit controversial.
>
>Reading this article (and the comments) about the lack of black-skinned
>cyclists I was reminded that I've often observed the same thing in climbing.
>
>Anyone care to comment on what's going on?

I really don't think there's anything controversial about this issue, aside from some Chocoholic responses. I reckon most people will take up a sport that is common to their social group, regardless of socio-economic demographic. When I first moved to Utah I was playing B'ball frequently and found a court close to my house. Every Sat morning I'd head out early to shoot around and ended up making a whole bunch of awesome friends, 99.9% African American. I managed to get a few of them snowboarding but their interest waned after a few tries, for whatever reasons.

I was watching an NBA (Basketball) game on tele the other day and wondered about the dearth of anglo saxon players! Is it racism that they exist in very small numbers?

I've always wanted to take up curling but have yet to meet that special someone...
Kieranl
1/04/2011
10:01:41 PM
Why so few indigenous Australian climbers?
First reason probably because they are a small proportion of population (<5%).
Second because probably lower socio-economic group as a whole.
Then there are probably issues related to the racial history of Australia that reduce the already tiny potential pool

Miguel75
1/04/2011
10:40:50 PM
On 1/04/2011 nmonteith wrote:.
>One of the things I would like to see happen to make 'a better world'
>is for the outdoors to be introduced to the poorer inner city parts of
>our cities. I think for many urbanites the bush is a big scary place. Thus
>they don't put a real world value on it apart from a source of resources
>and material for documentaries. I think if everyone got a bush experience
>early on in life they might care about their impact a bit more...

When I worked at Snowbird we actually ran a program to introduce under-privileged kids to skiing
& snowboarding. It was quite big, think 200 kids per week and was a lot of fun to be part of.

I only ever, personally, knew 4 African American snowboarders. 2 of whom were at the professional level.

stugang
1/04/2011
11:13:53 PM
Maybe its cos climbing is dumb. And they are smart.
Wendy
2/04/2011
9:56:46 AM
On 1/04/2011 Duncan wrote:
>It amuses me that in a thread about racism, you all assume that all black
>people in Aus and the US are poor.

I wouldn't assume that ALL are poor, but it is very well documented that they are overrepresented in poverty. Something like 70% of indigenous australians have incomes below the official poverty line and even putting aside actual money, the other associated issues of high rates of preventable diseases, infant mortality, poor rates of education completion feeding high unemployment, low life expectancy, large families, inadequate housing, add in mental health issues and substance abuse and you can see why maybe they have other priorities than taking up climbing.

I'm going to risk making an ass of u and me and assume that both indigenous and african americans have similar issues as they result from years of race based disadvantage, dispossession, discrimination, oppression and abuse, although my understanding is that indigenous australians are about as badly off as it gets.
Wendy
2/04/2011
10:04:06 AM
On 1/04/2011 nmonteith wrote:

>
>Climbers certainly are not racist. They are one of the most welcoming
>group of people I have ever dealt with - a truly international band of
>brothers. Unlike many sports there is very little nationalism amongst climbers.
>On a roadtrip its very typical to be mixing day to day with people from
>all around the world - and to be getting positive encouragement and invites
>to stay from everyone!
>

Whilst climbers can be a diverse and well travelled group, i wouldn't say they were immune from racism. Like any group, there are everything from blatant racists through well meaning people unaware of their assumptions or participation in racist norms to those actively trying to call out and challenge those norms.

Whether we as individuals are racist or not, we live in a society that has been built upon the oppression and dispossession of others and that continues to affect what we do, how we live and puts certain people in a better position than others at the starting line. Climbing is just a very tiny bit of the many many aspects of living affected by that.

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