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Thanks Sanesh! Great article and a lot resonated with me.
I started MTB as a 40yo woman of colour with no trail experience whatsoever. Just wanted to take up a new sport and mtb looked like fun. Did I see myself anywhere? No. Did I feel welcomed? Yes! Did I attempt to ride BP from Lilloet to Hyannis? Of course! :|
But feeling welcomed doesn't preclude the barriers for entry for many others (cultural and/or socio-economic etc) and it also doesn't distract from inherent feelings of discomfort or "not belonging" when you don't see yourself in a community. It's hard to explain and I have no wise solutions, just many feelings.
So while I have never felt discriminated against, I haven't always felt comfortable and a few times I felt kinda "other"ed. Every interaction has had good intentions, that much I know, but the outcome has, at times, not made me feel good. I don't blame people for affecting me and others in a way they may not be aware of. Which is why dialogue is so important. It's ok to "get things wrong". Ask questions, be humble, be open. And please, just listen sometimes. Allow the words to sink in and attempt to empathize. Feelings are just feelings. They aren't right or wrong they simply exist for that person, whether you like it or not. To dispute or minimize is kind of dehumanizing.
Also it's important to understand that it is EXHAUSTING to have to explain your life experience all the time. Most of us just wanna go riding. So if someone doesn't want to engage, that's also ok.
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