It actually matters.

This short film. I don’t have many words to express my thoughts and feelings. This girl made up her own idol and then became her. That’s cool and all. But, think about why she had to do something like that. The same reason I grew up with my adventure icon being a cartoon badass girl with purple hair; Reggie Rocket from the show Rocket Power on Nickelodeon.

The cool thing about Brooklyn Bell, and a big reason why I feel this short film at a very personal level, is that we both live in very, very similar situations. She’s a black woman in a predominantly white town, playing predominantly white male sports. Aside from me being a snowboarder and her being a skier, we live that same struggle. Although I didn’t grow up in Steamboat, I went to a very diverse grade school, followed by a mostly white, Catholic high school. I’m used to being the odd one out. I’m usually the odd one out.

During a live Q&A on the Patagonia mountain bike Instagram account, there was obviously lots of talk about representation and why it matters. At one point in the film, while talking about her experience showing up at races and how “there’s a lot of anxiety in the social part of it.” I think that phrase sums up simply one of the main reasons why it’s important that black and brown people are being shown taking up space in places where we feel uncomfortable. That’s the point of representation. I remember for my AASI level 3 certification exam (instructor stuff), out of the four different events taking place that weekend at that location, there were only two females. This is out of like 30 people. Luckily, she was in my event. Guess how many other people of color there were? One. Me.

So here’s how I think about it. Have you ever heard a white person ask and make assumptions that things always end badly when “look what happens when a white person goes into a black neighborhood.” What happens?? The answer is typically nothing, but I’m sure it’s still intimidating and kind of scary for a white person put in that situation. It’s the same thing the other way around, except we’re being scared out of having fun outdoors. Walking through Gondola Square in my Steamboat instructor uniform on during the busiest times of the year, I can FEEL people staring at me, even when I don’t see them. I had a tourist last winter sit on her husbands lap on the bus while clutching her purse, instead of sitting in the seat between us right after she began to sit down then made eye contact with me. It’s a rough life out here that not many people of color are willing to endure to live the lives that people like Brooklyn and I live. But it’s been well worth it.

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