DANIELLE WILLIAMS (Photo Credit: Don Carrington)

DANIELLE WILLIAMS (Photo Credit: Don Carrington)

I founded Melanin Base Camp in 2016 in order to increase ethnic minority and LGBTQIA participation in adventure sports. There was only one problem with that. The more research I did the more I realized that we already surf, hike, climb, skydive, kayak—all the things I assumed People of Color didn’t do. That was a good lesson to learn. I didn’t know because I had never seen any images of Senegalese surfers or Asian-American climbers. In my world they didn’t exist. I watched television but couldn’t recall a single U.S. outdoor retailer ad featuring an adventure athlete of color. I used GoPro, Contour and SonyCam but I couldn’t remember a single ad with an African-American snowboarder or wingsuiter. So I assumed we didn’t exist. But I was wrong!

Anyone who’s ever watched a skateboarder nail a 360 Dolphin flip or Jeb Corliss ‘grind the crack’ on YouTube knows that images are powerful. They influence the stories we tell about ourselves and the people we aspire to become. Melanin Base Camp is our story. We are strong, empowered and resilient. We care about our communities and we care about conserving public lands. We’re passing on our love of the outdoors to the next generation and we realize that representation matters. 

So here’s our new goal—to increase the visibility of adventure athletes of color, to increase our representation in the media, advertising and in the stories we tell ourselves about the Outdoors. 

Whether you shred, grind, carve or send, Melanin Base Camp is your own home too. Keep the stoke high and join us as we work to make the goal of #everyonesoutdoors a reality. Along the way we won’t shy away from sensitive topics (race and gender) but we’ll do it in a way that’s respectful of all.  Join the movement and help us #diversifyoutdoors!