Hip Hop in Climbing: Part IV

This article also available as a podcast here.

Part IV: Climbing Demographics and Inclusion

  What are the stats on how many Black women, trans, and non-binary people are actually in the climbing community? According to the American Alpine Club 2019 State of Climbing Report, 41% of all climbers surveyed are female and 1% of all climbers surveyed are African American.28 1% surveyed preferred not to answer the gender question of female, male, or prefer not to answer. There are no statistics on trans and non-binary which also speaks to an entirely different problem and it’s not good enough for the LGBTQIA2S+ community.

   With such a low statistic for African American females we can see who obviously sets the standard for the climbing community: white males overpower at 85% white and 72% male. Next in line as most numerous are white females: 85% white and 27% female. Where can a filmmaker find African Americans to collaborate with on a Hip Hop film that showcases climbing?

   The first resource would be the one cited above: the American Alpine Club’s 2019 State of Climbing Report. At the end of the report, it lists some recommended diversity, equity, and inclusion organizations. That would be a great place to start for anyone unsure of where to seek out the Black community for collaborators. This film could have easily taken a different direction.

   First and foremost, it is not a requirement to be an all woman run project to submit to the No Man’s Land Film Pitchfest that Hip Hop Gone Wild was funded through. The criteria is “an opportunity for woman-identified filmmakers, storytellers and athletes to come together and pitch their ideas to a panel of judges.”29 Men can and often are involved as indicated by films with an all male production crew such as Mothered by Mountains30 showcased in their 2019 festival.

   Could the makers of Hip Hop Gone Wild have brought in African Americans? How long would it take to find a Black person who does Hip Hop and actively climbs?

   Accepting the challenge, a call out for this description was put on a single social media platform: Instagram.

   36 direct messages sent.

   Ping. Ping.

   Only 15 minutes have passed and one hit: a male presenting MC.

   Ping. Ping.

   2.5 hours later. One woman presenting MC. Declined to be interviewed.

   Ping. Ping.

   3 hours in: Two male presenting people. They never answered any direct messages to be interviewed.

   2 days total: 10 people found in all. 3 women presenting out of those 10.

   There are Hip Hop climbers out there. It seems to be such a new development that everyone interviewed was surprised to hear there were more. Three individuals agreed to be interviewed.

   This, of course, is not a good indication of how willing these artists were to participate in a film about climbing and Hip Hop. This article is an entirely different project. The climbing world is a small place and taking a stand one way or the other can be a precarious place, especially for Black folks. So thank you to these individuals who stepped in to give an opinion on the film. One performer who should be noted in particular is One Chain Two Binerz31 whose mission was to marry Hip Hop to climbing. They were not available for comment.

   The biggest surprise was not how many were actually out there, but that the creator of Hip Hop Gone Wild actually knew and contacted one of these individuals right after being awarded a grant from NMLFF. Enter Devin Dabney32 Oh, I know this lady! Becca?..I think that we follow each other on social media and I remember us messaging back and forth one time because she was into Hip Hop and she beat boxed and stuff…this was put out in Sept 2018 our conversation was Jan 31st of that year [that the film showed loaded on Youtube] so 8 months later.”33

   Pump the brakes. Not only did this film project not spotlight any Black people, but the creator of the film actually knew someone who actively practices Hip Hop and climbs, who is Black. And yet there was a decision made to not include Devin Dabney. Adding one Black person in the film doesn’t make it right, however, it may have been a step in a good direction.

17 Dec 2020

Author: Crystal Rose H.

Cited Sources:

18. Ashley, Amanda. “Profile: The Rise of Kris Hampton” Climbing Magazine, 6 Jun 2017, https://www.climbing.com/people/profile-the-rise-of-kris-hampton/ 3 Nov 2020.

19. “Climber, Rapper, Artist: meet Kris “Odub” Hampton” YouTube, Uploaded by Lizzy Scully, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2yyy6rfxzQ&feature=youtu.be.

20. Leininger, Charles F. “Going Home: the struggle for fair housing in Cincinnati 1900 to 2007” Housing Opportunities made equal, 2008, http://homecincy.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Going-Home-2008.pdf 3 Nov 2020.

21. Abel, Georgie. “Climber Spotlight: Kris “Odub” Hampton” Climber Spotlight Journal of Moja Gear,  https://mojagear.com/climber-spotlight-kris-odub-hampton/ 3 Nov 2020.

22. Ashley, Amanda. “Profile: The Rise of Kris Hampton” Climbing Magazine, 6 Jun 2017, https://www.climbing.com/people/profile-the-rise-of-kris-hampton/ 3 Nov 2020.

23.  Valley Uprising. Directed by Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen, 2014. 35:07

24. Harris, Ida. “Code-Switching Is Not Trying to Fit in to white Culture, It’s Surviving It” Yes! Solutions to Journalism, 17 Dec 2019, https://www.yesmagazine.org/opinion/2019/12/17/culture-code-switching/ 3 Nov 2020.

25.  Dictionary.com, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/appropriation?s=t, 3 May 2020

26. Jackson, Lauren Michele. “When We Talk About Cultural Appropriation, We Should Be Talking About Power” In These Times, 9 Oct 2019,https://inthesetimes.com/article/cultural-appropriation-appropriate-stereotype-hip-hop-culture-power, 3 May2020.

27. “Paul Mooney: Everyone Wants To Be A Nigga” YouTube, uploaded by Jay Denson,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMX4R9Wz8ns.

28.  American Alpine Club. “State of Climbing Report, 2019” https://aac-publications.s3.amazonaws.com/articles/State_of_Climbing_Report_2019_Web.pdf 3 May 2020

29. “FILMMAKER GRANT” No Man’s Land Film Festival, http://nomanslandfilmfestival.org/pitchfest 3 Nov 2020.

30. “YETI Presents: Mothered By Mountains” YouTube, uploaded by YETI, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0NeI9RSYWY.

31.  https://soundcloud.com/onechaintwobinerz

32.  https://deuceishiphop.bandcamp.com/

33. Dabney, Devin. Personal interview. 27 June 2020.

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