Equal is not equitable

Ask yourself where are all the women? Where are the LGBTQ+? The BIPOC community? Immigrants? Refugees? The physically-challenged, mentally-challenged, the-handicapped, disadvantaged, limited, disabled? Orphans?

Who is representing these groups?

How can a place be inclusive if you look at the fabric of the leadership (and its founders and members and customers) and only see those of the dominant class in power and participating?

It was only 80 years ago, during the segregation era business owners were allowed to post signs like this:

Sure, today, most anyone can join a club or walk into places like a pool or grocery store and not be excluded. Outright racism shouldn’t be tolerated. But what I am talking is to do more than just allow anyone to walk in your door but to welcome everyone through. It’s not good enough to not be a racist but to develop a posture of anti-racism (or anti-sexism for that matter).

Recently, I had an experience taking a family member skiing for the first time. She is black. And there are no words for how disappointed I am in the ski community. There are obvious hurdles of gear, ticket prices, environment including altitutude and parking. Things we expected. By the time you get through those, you are hit with another layer of frustrated employees trying to keep it together with limited resources. You feel like you did something wrong with how they talk to you. From misunderstanding the rental procedures (where they admitted is a terrible interface for online rentals) to when instructors asked us to move after she fell in front of the lift. At one point, someone had accidentally stolen this family member’s rental gear. When talking to the rental department their first reaction is “we are not responsible for lost gear and you will be charged if it isn’t returned by the end of the day.” To demonstrate how rare this is the shop tech said it had only happened eight times all season. To think of the tens of thousands of rentals that have happened. Thankfully, the person who accidentally took the skis returned them and it sorted itself out. But I can’t imagine the conversation going well of accusing the only black person on the mountain stealing their rental skis.

There are unlimited ways to talk to people. Some invite possibility while others crush hopes.

Truly disappointing to see a group that claims to be a bit more “woke” do this. Am I mad at the multiple interactions with people making 13 bucks per hour–of course not. It is a system, invisible lines, and culture at work. It was a BIG deal for her to be there and fortunately was an experience she will not forget. (She road the bunny hill top to bottom on her own by the end of the day without falling. The smile on her face alone delighted my soul.) But while I was shocked at this interaction this was just a Saturday for her.

Those in power must have more awareness. When there is only one black customer walking through your door, you might want to 1) treat different people differently and 2) ask why is it that only one black person is going to participate in this amazing sport. (I think #1, in particular, will ruffle some feathers. No, treating everyone the same isn’t the same as equitable.)

It isn’t just with skiing. In Utah, we have got to examine who we elect, what policies are in place and need to change, judges, police officers, leadership positions at major companies, housing, the dominant religion, education…

We all have blind spots. Some of ours are much larger than others when you are only used to looking at the world through one lens.