When I started TheSkiDiva more than 13 years ago, I made an important decision: no politics or religion on the forum. Why? For a very simple reason: I can’t think of anything more likely to divide a community than either one of those two topics.
Over the years, this decision has served us well. TheSkiDiva is known throughout the ski industry as a friendly, supportive environment. Sure, we’ve had a dust-up or two, but the problems we’ve faced have been few and far between. I’d like to keep it that way, so this policy is not about to change.
But today, I’m making a bit of an exception — just for the blog and just for this post. Because while it’s lovely to write weekly about skiing and fitness and resorts and how to take care of yourself, it’s also a bit like driving in the dark with your eyes closed. As much as we’d like the world to be a peaceful, snow-filled wonderland where our only concern is how to make the perfect turn, each of us is profoundly affected by the events around us. And right now, those events are just not good.
Let’s start with the coronavirus. As skiers, our main concern has been what’s in the cards for next season. But there’s a lot more to COVID-19 than that, and all of us know it. People have fallen gravely ill and had to be hospitalized. Some of us have lost loved ones — more than 100,000 have died. We’ve seen businesses struggle to survive, and we’ve watched as friends and family wrestle with unemployment and the strain of isolation.
Then there’s George Floyd. I don’t need to say anything else to remind you about his senseless murder by a police officer in Minneapolis. Over the past week, we’ve witnessed violence in the streets, businesses on fire, injustice and division on a massive scale. Racism in our country is nothing new. It’s deeply ingrained in our history and our culture, and as much as we’d like to believe things have gotten better — hey, didn’t we have an African-American president? — it’s really just an illusion. Even skiing is not immune. Check out any ski resort on any ski day, and you’d be hard put to find people of color enjoying the slopes. Sure, I know about the National Brotherhood of Skiers, the African-American ski club formed in the early 1970’s. But the most recent statistics released by Snowsports Industries America show that African-Americans make up only 7.3% of US skiers. And yes, I think there’s something very wrong with that.
I don’t have a solution to any of this. Hopefully, there’ll be a vaccine for COVID-19 in the months ahead, and we can at least put that problem behind us. And ending racism — well, if I could wave a magic wand to do that, I certainly would.
Perhaps I should stick to writing about skiing and all the good things associated with that. And I promise I will, in the weeks to come. But I wanted to take this opportunity to just remind all of us to do what we can to make the world a better place. This might be as simple as wearing a mask when you go to the grocery store, to treating everyone around us with respect and love. As a society, we need to take a hard look at who we are and how we want to be in the years ahead, and then work together to make it so.
After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy said, “In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in.”
Let’s move in a direction we can be proud of. Let’s make it so that the very hardest problem all of us face is how to make that perfect turn.
Please stay safe. Please take care of yourself, and please take care of one another.
Because yes, there are some things that are more important than skiing.