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Last year, Gym Climber received an article submission from rapper and climber Devin Dabney. The article discussed the climber archetype, drawing parallels to rap culture, and essentially exploring the question of what it means to identify as a member of our community. Inadvertently, with use of the N-word throughout the article, Dabney raised a second question: Is it ever ok to use the N-word?
Pocket Outdoor Media (parent company to Gym Climber) consulted DEI expert Teresa Baker, founder of the African American National Park Event. Ultimately, after much deliberation, we declined to publish the article. Baker proposed an alternative way to further discussion: a webinar diving deep into the all the uncomfortable thoughts and nuances regarding the use of the N-word. Baker would moderate.
The webinar took place yesterday, Feburary 16. Panelists were Dabney, Dr. Carolyn Finney, (storyteller and expert on African Americans and environmental issues in the U.S.), Alison Desir (founder of Harlem Run and co-chair of the Running Industry Diversity Coalition), and Dhani Jones (former linebacker in the NFL and Strategic Advisor and Board member at Pocket Outdoor Media). The experts discussed the N-word’s various connotations to them as individuals, community members, and society at large.