If you’re one of those people who treat winter as a no-travel time because you think things like skiing and snowboarding aren’t for “us,” Brother, are you in for a shock.
It won’t be long before the fall foliage has fallen and winter is upon us. For much of the country north of, say, Las Vegas, that means ski season is fast approaching.
And to a lot of active black Americans this winter, that means…absolutely nothing.
The reason: a lingering bit of urban mythology, namely that black folks don’t ski. Or snowboard. Or ice skate.
This ranks right up there — or down there, depending on your outlook — with “Black folks don’t…:”
- …ride bikes
- …play hockey
- …drive race cars
- …fill in the blank: _________
You get the idea.
If you’re one of those, regardless of race, who believes all or any of that, prepare to be very surprised.
Start with the National Brotherhood of Skiers, which has been around since 1973. NBS began as a coalition of 11 black ski clubs around the country.
Three of those were in California — Oakland, Los Angeles and Compton — none of which could be called snow country.
If you check the NBS Web site today, you’ll find a listing of 77 black ski clubs in 43 U.S. cities. Alas, a goodly number of those clubs are no longer active, but 45 of them still are. One club, the Washington DC-based Black Ski Inc., claims more than 1,000 members alone.
NBS puts on a good half-dozen regional ski trips a year, not to mention an annual Black Ski Summit that draws black skiers (and others) from all over the world.
And if you think that doesn’t draw some second looks, consider this from the NBS Web site:
“There is nothing more impressive than seeing the mountain filled with Black skiers and snowboarders getting off the chair lifts, filling the après bars, emptying the shops, and partying the nights away. Once you meet some of these adventure seekers, you learn that these are doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, engineers, dentists, and every other profession you can think of. The local residents and other visitors are often speechless, and often hilarious when they try to figure out the best way ask innocent questions.”
Say hello to Kwame Nkrumah Acheampong, who represented Ghana in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver — as a skier. A one-man ski-team, self-taught.
They call him “the Snow Leopard.”
What about ice skating, you ask? Vanessa James and Yannick Bonheur represented France in the ice skating pairs competition in those same Olympics.
But you don’t have to be an Olympian, or a professional. You don’t even have to be all that good.
On my Christmas markets visit a few years ago to Strasbourg, capital of the Alsace region of eastern France, I saw a young brother doing his thing on the ice skating rink set up next to the city’s massive cathedral.
In the short time I watched him, he spent as much time falling as skating. But he was clearly having a blast.
Ice? Snow? Yeah, we do that.
Looks like some fun, doesn’t it?
Beats the hell out of just shoveling your drivewway for three months every year.
What’s more, taking up a winter sport gives you a whole new reason to visit other parts of the country, or the world, that you might not have otherwise.
so if the only thing that’s been holding you back is the fear pof not seeing a familiar-lookng face on the slopes or on the skating rink, stop. We’re already out there.