Reflections on Outdoor Diversity, with Gnarly Athlete Joslynn Corredor
Reflections on Outdoor Diversity, with Gnarly Athlete Joslynn Corredor

Reflections on Outdoor Diversity, with Gnarly Athlete Joslynn Corredor

Dealing with current events feels like we’re still dealing with the past; our country’s history is filled with race and inequality issues. Unfortunately, many people feel this way in the outdoors, too. But the natural world is what connects all humans, and I don’t think anyone should ever have to feel like they don’t belong when they’re outside.

As a woman of color, I have always felt different in the sports I was a part of. I was the only brown person and typically the only one who also had curly brown hair. I was the only woman of color on my high school cross-country team, one of the few on my college track/cross-country team at Oregon State University. Even now it feels rare to run into another woman of color while climbing.

But this isn’t something I’ve been vocal about before, because I didn’t want to stand out more than I already did. I wanted to feel “normal,” to blend in. And if I did speak up, I wasn’t sure anyone would even listen.

Photo by Kevin Capps

Growing up in Dana Point and Laguna Hills, California, I have always felt different. My parents were never together. I didn’t have light skin or straight hair like my stepsisters.

Now, when people ask where I’m from, I answer “California.” To which they always follow up with: “But like … where are you from??”

I never knew why the question bugged me until I got older. I think it’s because I wasn’t asked this as much when I was a kid living in southern California, because it is quite diverse. Now, I live in Boulder, Colorado, where the population is mostly white.

Photo by Galen Peterson

I always felt I never had a true role model while growing up. I looked up to my mom, but she didn’t have the same darker skin color or the same curly hair as I did. As a child, you are frequently asked who your role model is. My mom was a hard worker and she was also my role model; however, I felt like I deserved what my white counterparts had. I should have been able to look up to famous athletes, artists, scientists, politicians, and historical figures who looked like me.

Because the outdoors are a common space shared by everyone, I believe it should also be a space where children, regardless of their genetics, can seek role models who share their identity. I hope I can fill this gap – to be a role model for others that feel they’re the odd one out, and for women of color in general. I am currently raising awareness this month about breast cancer. I try to be the best version of myself (I know super cheesy) and hope that others notice that in some way. I hope to inspire others to do the same. I think before the Black Lives Matter Movement I was afraid to speak up and say how I felt; that my opinion did not matter because no one had ever told me that I mattered. It is inspiring to see others speak up about feeling the same way about discrimination. I now feel a community rising up.

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