We recognize our initial silence and now better understand that silence makes us complicit in the violence against Black Lives - that is the last thing that we want.
Moving forward, we want to make something absolutely clear: We are not interested in the potential negative political ramifications – we are interested in forward progress and protecting Black Lives, in doing our part to amplify and elevate the Black Community, and in pressuring elected officials to institute better long-terms solutions that create equal protections and opportunities for the Black Community.
It is time that businesses, neighborhoods, and communities take a stand and send a message of solidarity with the Black Community. We believe that racist justice systems must be demolished, and that any institution that props up white supremacy must be terminated precisely and swiftly.
We support the Black people that make our neighborhood, city, state, country and world so vibrant and beautiful!
we see you.
we hear you.
we love you.
we stand with you.
BLACK LIVES MATTER.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was brutally murdered by four police officers in Minneapolis, MN with a crowd pleading for the abuse to stop. The horror of this scene has repeated itself over and over in Black communities across the nation, and without the national outrage we have all witnessed, it would have become just another unjust killing in a long list of others. Police violence against the Black community has become all too familiar and has exposed a sickness in our collective consciousness as a nation still coming to grips with an ugly past that has allowed systemic racism and genocide to persist and infect our country. This has both on a personal and a professional level forced us as individuals, and as a company, to reckon with our own biases and to confront the ultimate question - what is our place in this national dialogue and what are we going to do about it?
Wilderness Exchange was founded on the mission to make getting outdoors more accessible and affordable. We have fallen short of this mission as it pertains to the urban community that we serve. As an industry, we have fallen short. As a 20 year fixture in the city of Denver, we have fallen short. Instead of taking actions to increase diversity and inclusion in our business, we have blamed greater social and economic realities and have rationalized that there is nothing we can do about it. This dialogue has made us increasingly aware that the lack of diversity in the outdoors has also been reflected in the lack of diversity in our own organization. Now we need to ask a tougher question: "why do people of color not feel comfortable applying for a job at Wilderness Exchange, how has this perception been created, and what can we do to change this?" Looking at it this way, it places the responsibility for our part in this squarely on our shoulders, as it should be.
If we want to see change, we must first seek that change in ourselves. We do not want this moment and opportunity to slip by us - now is the time for action. We intend to be very vocal about using our platform and podium on social media to express solidarity and amplify the Black Lives Matter message as well as amplify Black voices in the outdoors. This is still not enough. We are making donations to organizations that advocate for Black participation in outdoor activities - specifically Outdoor Afro and Brothers of Climbing to name a couple. This is still not enough. We need to have an intention and a way of confronting our own biases collectively and open up a dialogue internally to make inclusion and diversity a strong component of our company culture, which is why we are committed to inviting educators from E.L.K., an inclusive non-profit organization that develops inspired and responsible leaders through science education and outdoor experiences for underserved, urban youth, into our store to deliver JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) Training to our staff. This training will take place as our Q3 company meeting in July. JEDI Training will be required for all WEU staff, and be conducted annually, moving forward. This is still not enough. We intend to seek long-term cultural change within our company and to build a strong bridge to our local BIPOC communities in a meaningful and enduring way.
We have a vision for the future - we will one day be a company and industry that will become increasingly equitable for everyone - and we will be stronger for it. We will have people of color employed at our company and in positions of leadership. Communities that have looked at the Front Range mountains their whole lives but have never played in the snow will experience the life-changing stoke that we all have for the outdoors. We are not going to change the world, but we sure can change the little corner in it that we occupy through positive action and forward progress.
The Wilderness Exchange Crew