“Black Everest” And Why It Matters

I’m tired. So much for the holidays. Working over 40 hours, caring for a house and spouse, keeping up with all things COVID, and of course, working out. I added a new routine to my routine, but that’s for another post.

This one is about people who are probably more tired than me on any given day. They are also more driven. They have to be. They are heading for Mt. Everest.

Full Circle Everest is an all-Black expedition, the first of its kind with the goal of climbing Earth’s tallest mountain. Eight men, three women, with very diverse backgrounds, but a shared love of travel, challenge, the outdoors, and making a difference will begin the adventure more than 10,000 other climbers have done since the first attempt in 1921, and the first successful summit by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. Of the thousands who have tried, only 10 Black climbers have attempted the journey: 29,032 feet, requiring about two months for the ascent and almost as long for the descent — if the weather is good and you’ve done the training and preparation and nothing goes wrong.

Why are they doing it, aside from the challenge that it’s out there and they can?

Because Blacks are heavily underrepresented when it comes to the great outdoors. Blacks make up 40% of the US population, but visitors to national parks are overwhelmingly white (70%). Where you live also dictates access to open spaces and sports facilities: Blacks and other people of color are more likely to live in urban areas that don’t offer playgrounds, pools, soccer fields, gyms, and tennis courts. Maintaining these facilities is expensive, and towns and cities with lower tax bases cannot afford to do so. Blacks with lower incomes and less vacation time are less likely to take advantage of sports recreation as a pastime or provide their children with swimming lessons, dance instruction, or simply the free time to enjoy nature. It’s about inclusion and diversity and spreading the word that the outdoors should not discriminate.

And there is racism. The fear of the person you don’t know engaging in an activity that for so long has been white-dominated. And doing it in such an in-your-face big and dangerous way as to put it out there and really tempt Fate. It makes people uncomfortable, angry, nervous, and afraid. In the case of Full Circle Everest, it makes people envious, I’ll bet. The snack cake-stuffing, soda pop-quaffing, pizza-puffed minions on their couches are not happy about the nerve of this group.

Good. Let ’em stay on the couch. You go Full Circle to Everest. We will be watching and cheering. And if you want to show a little love and support, check out this link.

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