THE POWER OF REPRESENTATION
Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room, shall we? Hopefully, we all agree that racial and gender stereotyping in sports and other industries is a thing. Remember when some people used to say that black people couldn’t swim? If not, don’t take my word for it and take a minute to google it, and see what comes up - you’d be surprised.
Ultimately, the over exposure and/or lack of visibility of certain groups of people engaging in a specific activity impacts the way we perceive it and creates myths around certain people’s abilities vs. others. Remember the movie Cool Runnings? This combined with a range of different factors like culture, religion, location, language, age, education etc. creates the perfect storm for the persistence of long-held stereotypes, like blacks don’t hike.
CHALLENGING THE STATUS QUO
In all honesty, if you’d asked me, let’s say three years ago, what I thought of hiking I wouldn’t have much to say other than “not my thing”. But what strikes me now is that, unconsciously, I had discarded this activity because of all the unspoken myths attached to it - like hiking is mostly a sport that my white friends do - which meant that I never actually pictured myself doing it. Would I have been more open to the idea if it was more popular among the black community or if I had seen more representations of people like me doing it? Maybe. Unfortunately, I can only speculate, but given my love for running and nice landscapes I think it’s only fair to assume it could have been something I’d have enjoyed.
MY HIKING LOVE STORY
In the past couple of years, I’ve fallen in love with hiking by accident. It’s funny because when you stop trying to label things you open yourself up to so many new experiences. My first encounter with hiking was on a trip to Marrakesh where I went to what I thought was a regular tour of the Atlas Mountains which turned out to be my very first hiking route. Since then I caught the hiking bug and went to a few other places. There, I couldn’t help but notice that I was often the only black woman. I started wondering if other black women had experienced the same thing as me. I know some of you might say hiking is not necessarily something for everyone regardless of our skin colour - which is fair - but don't you think we should all at least have the chance to be represented in the hiking space? I, personally, think we should.
The good thing about living in Barcelona is that I have easy access to a few hiking spot, but I know it’s not the case for everyone. This weekend I went to a small town near Barcelona called Collbato, from there I hiked for 14km to Montserrat and back. For anyone else looking to start of their hiking journey and who happens to be in Barcelona I would definitely recommend it – plus the views from the top of the mountains are to die for.
Do let me know if you have experienced the same thing as me or would be interested in joining me on one of my hiking trips