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Hiking is too white: The North Face outdoor brand wants more diversity

Is hiking too white? Are there too few black people who take walks? And do white men from the bourgeoisie want to share nature among themselves? If the popular outdoor clothing brand North Face has its way, apparently yes. And that is why there is an urgent need for action.

The clothing brand, which is best known for its popular black wind and weather jackets, proudly announced on Sunday on its German-language Instagram account that it wanted to tackle this problem. For this purpose, Emilia Zensile Roig, a bestselling author, was hired for the company's EMEA consultancy team.

The committee advocates “more equality, diversity and inclusion in outdoor sports”. For this it has a multi-million dollar fund at its disposal. "As part of a larger team, Emilia will help raise $ 7 million to nonprofits that all share the same vision."

In addition, Roig is presented on the Northface account with a suitable quote: "Hiking and outdoor activities are perceived as a white, male and bourgeois domain that is neither accessible nor inviting for many people," criticizes the publicist and demands: "That has to change, because nature does not belong to anyone."

The 38-year-old is no stranger to observers of the Critical Race Theory. Roig is the director of the Center for Intersectional Justice (CfIJ). The NGO based in Berlin-Mitte was founded in 2017 with the help of funds from the Open Society Foundation of George Soros, the Hertie Foundation and the Berlin Guerrilla Foundation and at the same time cooperates with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, which is close to the Greens. The US American Kimberlé Crenshaw, who is considered to be one of the leading thinkers of the "Critical Race Theory", is the Honorary President of the CfIJ.

Roig often appears as an interview partner on public broadcasting. Only a few weeks ago she criticized on Deutschlandfunk that knowledge, logic or reason were instruments invented by white people in order to maintain their white supremacy. “Knowledge is still seen as universal, objective and neutral,” complained Roig. "We have to realize that knowledge production is still dominated by white people, males and people from the global north."

The fact that some companies in the outdoor industry do not feel diverse enough is also not a new phenomenon. Already three years ago the largest manufacturer of outdoor clothing in Canada, the Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), apologized for showing too many white models in its advertising.

These pictures would perpetuate the largely false idea that black people in Canada do not ski, hike or climb, regretted company boss David Labistour in an open letter entitled: "Do white men dominate the outdoor industry?"

Nature in the USA reserved for whites
Last year, the question was why there are hardly any black athletes in climbing, mountaineering or skiing. The newspaper cited US journalist James Edward Mills as an explanation, who justified the underrepresentation of “People of Color” in outdoor sports as follows: Racism developed in our society.” Also, outdoor activities are usually quite expensive, which is why socially disadvantaged groups of the population cannot afford them financially.

Mills also provides another explanation for the alleged over-representation of white people when hiking: The basic requirement for this hobby is a certain passion for nature, the paper quoted him as saying. Many blacks would not be able to do this because nature in the USA has been reserved for white people for centuries. For whites, it has always been a place of relaxation. For blacks, however, it has long been a place of danger.

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