Equity – an Update from Ignite Adaptive Sports
Equity! That is what Ignite is about. Ensuring equity of access for those with disabilities to enjoy snowsports. I know that our Volunteers, Students and Donors stand for Equity and I am sure most work hard to make sure we live in a just and equitable world.
The events of the last two weeks have made me look at Ignite through the lens of equity – but this time with a different filter. One of race.
I want to share with you the reason this letter has taken me so long to write. I spent time reflecting on my own reaction to what is being asked of each of us – about racism, about injustice, and about inequity.
I was ten years old and lived ten miles away when the 1965 Watts riots occurred. At a young age and with the encouragement of my Daddy, I began my work in social justice. Then in 1992, the Rodney King riots occurred, and I was stunned and shocked that this call to action needed to happen again. I was sure that collectively we had made more progress than what we really had. Now in 2020, once again our fellow Americans are rightfully demanding equity and justice.
What is different for me this time, is I have had to ask myself, am I contributing to a system of racism? – Not consciously, but with my own biases.
This self-reflection and internal searching has allowed me to better understand that, for most of my life I felt I was not racist. After all, my family includes interracial marriages resulting in bi-racial nieces and nephews, I have black friends, and I consider myself open minded and progressive. However, what was missing from my own work (both privately and professionally) was the understanding of the difference in racism, injustice, and equity.
The sport we all love – is a sport of privilege. In all the years I have been skiing, I rarely see a black person, let alone a black family, on the slopes. When I did – I was surprised. Knowing that, I now ask myself why I was surprised? When asked by a funder of Ignite what we were doing to reach marginalized communities, I thought we had that handled. But do we?
When I think about the world I want my grandson to grow up in, it is one of equity and justice for all.
For now, I want to focus on what we at Ignite can do to bring our world closer to the one I envision for my grandson-and for that, I need your help:
- How can we include more people of color, both as students and volunteers?
- What ideas do you have, what insights are you willing to share with me?
- How can we be part of the solution together?
I want to thank each of you for your love and dedication to Ignite and our mission. As I have said many times before and will continue to say – Ignite has the best volunteers, students, and donors!
With deep gratitude,
Carol Nickell, Ignite Executive Director