Thoughts on Our Current Situation

Thoughts on Our Current Situation, BLISTER

May 31, 2020

From Managing Editor, Luke Koppa:

I want to preface this with the fact that the resources below are far more important and useful than what I’ve personally written below.

This week, like many people, I’ve been feeling a lot of things: disheartened, useless, hopeless, confused, just deeply sad.

But above all I’ve felt uncomfortable, and that’s a good thing. As a white man from a great home in suburban Wisconsin who’s spent his last several years in the mountains of Colorado, I’ve lived an extraordinarily privileged life. The only times I’ve been even remotely fearful for my own safety have been self-induced: a sketchy downclimb, an exposed ski line, an afternoon thunderstorm in the mountains.

After the murder of George Floyd by a police officer this week and the countless others before him, the irony of my situation was once again brought to the forefront of my mind. Once again, I needed to confront the fact that black people in our country do not share the same privileges I take for granted every single day.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a very non-confrontational person. I don’t like getting into arguments, I’m scared of saying something offensive or incorrect, and that selfish, simple fear of people not liking me for speaking out is why I often avoid just that.

But it’s become increasingly clear that my own silence, even if I’m not going to reach many people, is not only not making things better, it’s making them worse.

So to take the most basic step to reverse that, we wanted to put this big, dark spot on the website as a reminder of the big, dark, uncomfortable issue that is still very much a part of this country, but that we can so easily ignore. So that we can hopefully not forget about it until the next catastrophe, so that we can continue to remain uncomfortable, so that we can continue to remember not just how fortunate we are, but how so many of our friends, relatives, and fellow human beings with different colored skin do not share that privilege.

For now, I’m doing my best to listen, do research, become better informed, and to find ways to take constructive action. Thank you to everyone who’s shared resources, please continue to do so, and we’ll do our best to do the same going forward.


We understand that saying something is only the bare minimum, so we’ve listed several organizations that are currently working and have been working toward anti-racism. Each are accepting donations, and many also have petitions you can sign and resources for further education. We have donated to a number of these organizations because it is one way we can do something right now, and we are working on further steps to take in the future. Below we’ve also included the link to register to vote for anyone in the U.S.

Register to Vote in any U.S. State or Territory

Update: June 2, 2020

From Blister Founder, Jonathan Ellsworth:

Cities are burning.

The violence is increasing.


Why weren’t all four officers promptly arrested for the murder of George Floyd?

And why has this still not happened?

If it had, the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd would not have looked like this.

But it hasn’t.

So how can anyone be surprised that people have hit a breaking point?

Without justice, there cannot — and should not — be peace.

Update: June 3, 2020

All four officers have now been charged.

New York Times

Wall Street Journal

Update: June 15, 2020

Many of these policy changes are long overdue, and some represent the most basic advances. But several significant reform measures have recently been passed:

  • Colorado state legislature passed police-reform Senate Bill 217, which Governor Jared Pollis says he will sign and that, among other things, does the following. (Colorado Sun article)
    • Requires law enforcement agencies to outfit all officers with body cameras
    • Requires law enforcement agencies to release body camera footage within 45 days of a questionable police encounter
    • Bans the use of chokeholds and carotid holds
    • Requires law enforcement agencies to collect racial data on officers’ encounters with the public
    • Requires law enforcement agencies to report to the state when officers unholster their weapons, point their weapons at a citizen and use deadly force
    • Requires officers to intervene if one of their colleagues is using inappropriate force
    • Prohibits police from using deadly force against people accused of a minor or nonviolent offense
  • New York passed a police-reform package that, among other things, does the following. (New York Times article)
    • Bans the use of chokeholds by law enforcement
    • Repeals a law that has kept police disciplinary records secret in the state
    • Codified into state law a special prosecutor’s office within the state’s attorney general’s office to investigate and prosecute police killings of unarmed civilians.
  • Iowa passed a police-reform package that does the following. (KCRG article)
    • Bans police chokeholds
    • Allows Iowa’s Attorney General to investigate deaths at the hands of officers even if local prosecutors decline
    • Prevents hiring an officer if they have been fired or resigned because of misconduct or convicted of a felony
  • San Francisco will be replacing police officers with trained, unarmed professionals to respond to calls for help on non-criminal matters involving mental health, the homeless, school discipline, and neighbor disputes. (LA Times article)
  • The Minneapolis City Council pledged to dismantle the Police Department, promising to create a new system of public safety. (New York Times article)
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47 comments on “Thoughts on Our Current Situation”

  1. Thanks for that Luke–I appreciate the pause to acknowledge the situation. Racism. Stereotypes. Suspicions. Fears. Biases. Assumptions. They’re in all of us. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but how can we solve it if we don’t talk about it? How about a podcast or some interviews about racism in outdoor sports? Or some material that explores the obvious “whiteness” of skiing, climbing, mountain biking, etc.? There are great programs getting kids from urban areas or minorities into wilderness areas, onto mountain bikes, onto rock, onto waves…perhaps some recognition, exposure, and publicity could help? How can you guys use your platform, even in a very small way, to work toward progress? I guess that’s the question we can all ask ourselves. Thanks again, Luke.

    • Yep (to you and Spencer below, who seconded this), I think that’s a great idea and something Jonathan and I are going to be working on going forward. At the very least, if you haven’t seen this film from Patagonia MTB, I thought it was excellent and will be including it in our next “What We’re Watching” post:

      • Eliot Jackson (Giant MTB) just released a really thoughtful, heartfelt video on what it really means to support diversity in MTB & those who suffer discrimination in general. ( ) He’d be a fantastic first guest for a podcast.
        And Kudos to Luke & Blister for taking the initial steps that Eliot spells out as foundational: simply calling out a wrong for what it is, and supporting those who seek to right that wrong.
        I for one will continue to support Blister for as long as it has the courage to follow its conscience!

  2. Heartfelt statement Luke. Nearly everyone who lives a privileged life has difficulty thinking too deeply about how, really millions and millions of people, are under stress, duress and worse at any given moment, while life for us, though not perfect, is a vastly more positive experience. I am guilty of it myself, I know it. But I have been active in working toward change for a long time. It seems to me this moment offers us a chance to force a change in the law regarding how police use deadly force. It should be against the law for them to use deadly force against citizens being arrested (under suspicion) of having committed a petty crime (like passing a counterfeit $20, and hundreds of other petty crimes). This is really sickening and I know that far too many of our society condones this. Let’s just face it, nearly 50% of us are racist, and this fact is frightening. But all is not lost, these people can learn to accommodate, learn to live and let live, and maybe show a little love or empathy sometime. We can prevent environmental catastrophe, we can stop treating billions of animals that end up on our dinner table so cruelly, we can offer people a better choice than killing as many people as they can on their way off this mortal coil. The future is in our hands if only we stop living in the past.

  3. Well said, Gregory. I’ll just highlight two things you wrote, “‘…Nearly 50% of us are racist…,” and, “…these people can learn to accommodate….” I don’t think you were trying to set yourself apart in a group of “non-racists,” but I do think language is important, and these words could be construed as a way to separate “us” from “them.” Fundamentally, I think it’s critical that we all examine our own thoughts and prejudices, as much as we are able. Like many people from this site, I imagine, I grew up in a white, middle-class, privileged family, taking a broad view, certainly among the luckiest 0.0001 percent of people who have ever lived. My family was also liberal, progressive, open, and there was about as little racism on display as you can hope for. But I also grew up in NYC in the 1970’s and 80’s, when the city was a rough place, and because I was white, I spent the ages between 10 to 18 trying to avoid getting beat up, robbed, mugged, or worse, by gangs of predominantly black and sometimes Latino kids. Did that effect me? It must have. I can’t imagine that it didn’t influence my behavior and thoughts somewhat. For example, I think I probably started bicycle racing, to which I devoted 20 years of my life, as a way to find a place to prove myself that wasn’t the streets. And when I’m in a city or any environment I’m constantly reading people, making judgements about their potential threat, and skin color has got to be part of that. Now I’m a high school biology teacher. After years of students asking me questions like, “Is it true that black people develop muscle mass faster?” or “Why are Chinese people so good at math,” I decided to take some time and try to figure out, as well as I could, what modern biology says about race. It took me a long time to make sense of the research, and I tried to approach it with an open mind, ready to accept whatever our best understanding of race is at this time, no matter what I thought I knew, or hoped was true or untrue, and so on. I can honestly say that, after a huge amount of research, my conclusion is that 1) there are no significant genetic differences between groups of people around the world, and 2) there are good reasons to believe that we will never find such differences. That might seem self-evident to many people, but obviously an equal or greater proportion of people would strongly disagree, despite the evidence to the contrary. That material–race and genetics–has now become part of my regular high school biology and geography syllabus. I’ve worked through the material with a great many young people, and it’s an interesting and powerful process. One of the most important steps, I think, is to create an environment with enough trust and support that students can feel comfortable sharing their views and questions, whatever they may be. That’s one of the ways that I have tried to help. But, of course, I doubt my own motivation; have I made this material a regular part of my classes because of my guilt as a privileged white man? Do I teach my students that there are no fundamental differences between black and white, Asian and Indian, and so on, because I’m really trying to convince myself? Does this distinction even matter, if I change even one mind? That’s the kind of reflection and exploration I think we all need to get these issues out into the open, and deal with them. Thanks again for your words.

    • I completely agree that race is a social (and all too often a political) construct, with no underlying scientific justification.

      I believe that social and economic differences (“class”, for lack of a better word) have very real, well-demonstrated impacts on outcome. By discriminating based on a construct like race we effectively relegate people to lower positions in our social and economic hierarchies. Discrimination thereby creates and perpetuates correlations (NOT causal relationships) between “race” and outcomes including crime. It’s all too easy to learn the wrong lessons from those correlations, as you point out when discussing your youth. When we do so that become part of the feedback loop: Discrimination -> Disenfranchisement -> Poor Outcomes -> Discrimination.

      My $0.02, worth even less than usual.

  4. Nice words Luke. Good to see Blister taking a stance. Bruno’s idea to give coverage to outdoor programs for urban and minority youth sounds excellent.

  5. This is not a place for politics, but there are time’s it is good to stop and look at the bigger picture. You feel compelled to stop.

    I think I broke my collar bone yesterday doing down hill with my kids. But it was such a good day. But I felt sad that not everyone has the same opportunities as me. More opportunities to break bones doing something fun, less chance of dying during a F’g traffic stop.

  6. I’m not from the USA or NA for that matter, so take my comment with a grain of salt.

    I’d rather you keep this to your personal pages like Instagram (I follow you there and wouldn’t mind that). But here it’s business, and I’m paying to read your gear reviews (btw since this is turning to a rant, baby clothes reviews are horrible content-wise and direction-wise at the same time).

    People at the office normally don’t discuss sex they had last night, last call at the bar is not a good place to argue who is a better driver, etc. I’m sure you get my point.

    Skiing is a priviledge? I work hard at a stressful and demanding job to be able to ski and go outdoors to be in that moment. And you better bet that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

    • Blister posts a lot of free articles which are not part of the product you pay for, and this is one of those. And the whole point of this post is that saying these things in this forum and others is important and does matter. Being silent is being complicit with maintaining the status quo, and maintaining an oppressive status quo is an act that contributes to oppression.

      Privilege in this context refers to difficulties that you haven’t faced as a result of uncontrollable factors like skin color, gender, and sexual orientation. A lot of people who have benefited from these privileges get touchy at the mention, but having privilege and being able to acknowledge the privileges you’ve benefited from doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been difficult. It means that those uncontrollable factors haven’t contributed to making your life harder.

      If you haven’t been discriminated against due to your race, gender, or sexual orientation, you probably benefit from some sort of privilege. If you don’t feel like you might be accosted and hurt by police for no reason, you benefit from privilege. If people in positions of authority and power look like you, you benefit from privilege. If the other people you see when you go skiing look like you, you benefit from privilege. If the majority of people in well-paying, well respected professions look like you, you benefit from privilege. If you feel like law enforcement and police are protecting you and on your side, you probably benefit from privilege. For the most part, these are not privileges that black people in America get to benefit from.

      If you’re not from the US, it’s understandable that the current events might feel distant from you. The fact is though that while the groups who benefit from societal inequality differ, it’s a problem in almost every country on earth. It’s easy to feel like your own experience is a baseline and take for granted the privileges you benefit from. It can be uncomfortable to step back and recognize the ways in which society is built to be easier for people similar to you. Instead of rejecting the reality that most societies benefit their members in unequal ways, try to understand the issue, educate those around you, and effect change for the better. Be more like Luke.

      • Brilliantly put rc. Points well made.
        And ‘well done’ Blister. Thank you for making a stand. I’m proud to be a subscriber of such an ethical online publication.

      • I agree with Qilimanjaro on this.
        And this is not because I expect to see only the content I pay for and nothing else.

        The reason is that I, like Qilimanjaro, don’t think this is the correct outlet for such political topics. There are more than enough such outlets out there.
        I realize that you think this is a more important topic than gear reviews and should not be ignored by anyone.
        I think I speak on behalf of everyone here that we value Blister for the thorough and unbiased reviews and I think that this article does not follow the same style. This is after all someone’s own opinion on a social and political topic.

        While realizing I might be called the Devil’s advocate, the fact that the word “murder” is used so freely without there being such a conviction at the time of writing is indicative of what I am trying to say.
        I hope I don’t have to remind anyone that in any liberal society a person is innocent until proven otherwise and courts exists for that purpose.
        And I’m sure most people, including myself of course, don’t know all the evidence for us to pass judgement.
        And if the officer is indeed guilty I see no reason to believe that he will get away with murder, after all murders happen every day of people of any race and most of them are resolved according to the law.

        The reason I am so serious about this is that I think most of the problem in this case and the reason for a potentially peaceful protest to turn into such an ugly riot, which has already cost lives, is that this issue was blown up by media and likely instigators within the protesters.
        Of course I am not going to accuse Blister of deliberately doing that but if you want to cover such a sensitive topic you have to make sure that you only convey the proven and unbiased truth.
        And this is why I think such a topic should be left out of publications such as this one.
        Many people come here to wind down, not be reminded again of the same topic being blasted everywhere.
        To Blister, I can assure you that anyone interested in world events even on the other side of the world from you is informed on the topic and we don’t need to be reminded of it from all sides.

        And to reply to your post in particular, rc, I hope you can realize how irrelevant all this talk about privilege sounds to someone born and living outside the USA and what used to be called The First World.
        I think anyone born in the USA, regardless of race and ethnicity, is more privileged than people in such countries.
        But I am not going to go and “protest” by burning down the American embassy.
        This idea of guilting someone by telling them they are privileged, I think, also exists only in the USA and doesn’t work much outside it.
        You have to live with what you have and will only be judged by the choices you make in your life and what you are able to make of your time.

        Sorry for making this so long and I hope I have show why such discussions don’t belong on an innocent site like this one.
        At least I don’t feel comfortable having them.

        • This post is full of white supremacist and alt-right dog whistles. If this is unintentional I hope I can raise this to your attention, lainovlopata. Otherwise let this serve as a warning to other normal folks who might be scrolling by and miss the deeper message.

          You have a lot to say about due process and presumption of innocence for a white police officer, but what about that same treatment for innocent black people killed by police? Despite saying that you “see no reason to believe that he will get away with murder”, the precedent is that police officers absolutely do get away with murder and manslaughter in the US. That is the point of the protests. On its own, the call for presumption of innocence and due process seems very reasonable, the same way that “all lives matter” is not a statement anyone supporting BLM would disagree with. However, in the context of advocating that black lives matter and that due process and fair treatment should be fairly applied to blacks in America, emphasizing application of those rights for a white police officer – whom nobody really doubts is going to enjoy a fair if not favorable treatment – is a countermessage.

          Requesting that people and news outlets “only convey the proven and unbiased truth” is another cute sentiment, but a red herring that distracts from the topic at hand. Blister is a review site that is inherently and unabashedly opinionated. Blister likes heavy gear that skis well. Other sites like OGL like light gear that tours well. On top of that, this is an op-ed piece. Even at large, news agencies aren’t under any obligation to provide an “unbiased” reporting, should such a thing even exist. “Proven truths” are nearly as hard, and essentially don’t exist outside of pure mathematics. Even scientists refer to evidence “supporting” a hypothesis, and not establishing proof. Best to ignore this one and move on.

          You say that “Many people come here to wind down”, but the fact is that being able to compartmentalize police brutality is a privilege disproportionately afforded to white and white-passing people in America. Furthermore, based on the overwhelmingly positive response to this article in the comments, I would disagree and say that many people care deeply about inequality in America and are pleased to see that Blister isn’t staying silent on this topic.

          It is complicated to talk about privilege across different societies, and you’re arguing against a straw man by claiming I’ve said things that I haven’t. The discussion around privilege is not about shaming people for having privilege, it is a call for people to understand what privileges they enjoy and to recognize that others don’t enjoy those, and that the discrepancy is a societal problem that can be fixed.

          • Well said.

            By the way, wtf is an “innocent site”? One that only presents content you agree with? If you want that, pay for your own hosting and do your own writing.

            • To Patrick Chase.
              Perhaps the word “innocent” was not the best choice.
              Excuse me for my poor English vocabulary.
              This doesn’t give you the right to put words into my mouth however.
              I think I made it clear at the beginning of my post that I don’t have a problem with seeing content I don’t like being posted.

              The point I was trying to make is that there is a good reason why media is called The Fourth Power.
              And in our time it probably has the biggest power to influence people’s opinions and therefore world events.
              Therefore it should be handled with a lot of responsibility if you don’t mean to do any harm this way.
              I am sure Luke and the rest of the Blister crew don’t mean any harm and are honest in their feelings about the topic.
              But it is one thing to say “I prefer my skis heavy” and another to say “This man is getting away with murder”, especially since we don’t actually know what happened and that no one has gotten away with anything yet (I know this is not what Luke actually said – I am using it as an example).

              If what happened is murder it is definitely an issue and we now know that all suspects are faced with charges so they will face judgement for that.
              However there is another issue here and the reason why we are all discussing this or have even heard of the incident. The riots.
              And I don’t think we can blame the prosecution being slow to press charges for them because this always takes time, especially when the issue is politically important.
              I think a large part of the blame goes to the media for (purposefully or not) painting a picture that will anger a lot of people.
              And this is why when covering such a topic you have to be careful what you say, especially when you know the message will reach many people, some not even old enough to be able to make an informed judgement.

              And you could extend your narrative by asking “What is Blister’s stance on the Hong Kong protests? Or does Blister agree with the CCP? If they posted about one issue but not the other does that mean they don’t care?”.
              I hope you can see what I mean and how taking on such topics opens up a big rabbit’s whole and should be handled with great responsibility.
              Yes, I am aware that other media outlets are no saints in this regard as well.

              My second point is that we could all just as well be having this discussion on Twitter or whichever else public platform you prefer.
              And that includes Luke and Jonathan stating their opinions publicly.
              So why have it here in-between all the gear reviews?

          • I can see that this issue is emotionally charged for you and I challenged you by responding directly to you.
            But throwing words like white supremacist and alt-right, whatever meaning you may put in them, is a little too much in this case don’t you think?
            Please re-read my post with a clear mind because you missed my point entirely.

            I am not defending the white police officer, nor the Asian police officer, nor for that matter the black man being arrested.
            I am defending the principles of justice and what should and shouldn’t be presumed without knowing all the facts.
            I am not familiar with US law but I am 100% certain that the words “Every person deserves a fair trial and is presumed innocent until proven otherwise” exist there in some form as basic principles (and here proven means in a court, not mathematically – I feel stupid for even having to explain that).

            These words were specifically chosen to not be subject to context, whether that context is an interracial crime or not.
            And I am sure that if one day you end up in court you will want to be treated by the same principles instead of by a mob rule from people that were led to believe something about you.
            And what if the roles were reversed in this case – something which, according to Stephen Garvin’s post below, also happens often enough
            Would you still feel the same way about the issue? Because I would and I think everyone should also. But I don’t see this being the case.

            I am not going to assume your race, ethnicity, or political ideas like you did to me, because it doesn’t matter in an intellectual discussion.
            You apparently don’t appreciate it but the US justice system is actually one of the best in the word when looked as a whole.
            You may appreciate this fact if you lived in a country which does not give you these rights (at least not de-facto) and where such a case may not get any attention not only by the mainstream media, but also by the prosecution.
            I urge you again to not assume that we are all living problem-free because we are not faced with white-on-black police brutality.
            Other problems exist out there, sometimes much worse and harder to escape from.

            Please also appreciate that this issue, no matter it’s resolution, will not affect me in any significant way, I don’t live in the USA and have no business placing political dog whistles in my posts.
            I do however care about how the opinions of people can be manipulated to serve a certain agenda, whether willingly or not. I have seen this used for very bad outcomes multiple times and this is why I felt a need to post my opinion.
            I also appologise if my tone seems confrontational – I am not eloquent enough to express myself any less bluntly.

    • This comment is analogous to the NBA fan that pays for a ticket and then feels entitled to demand(?) that the players “stick to sports”. It is a moral imperative for people with a platform to speak up during events as monumental as these. Luke’s post is not just typical water cooler talk at the office.

      The issue of unequal-ness under law for black people is a malignancy on civil US society. It defines us as a country and no one should put their head in the sand thinking it doesn’t affect them in some way.

      • Few bullet points on different aspects.

        1) The “moral imperative” is ridiculous. I am acquainted with a few professional sportsmen, and they are not exactly versed in politics or complex topics that involve any normative (“A is good”, “B is bad”) judgements. Reminds me of “get your philosophy from a bumper sticker” line. Vesting any moral imperative in someone else is sort of demanding more for your money and time. I suggest you don’t generalize here.

        2) Black pictures and avatars, thougths and prayers, rainbow flags once a year equates to jumping the band wagon and virtue signalling in my book. It’s easy to join the crowd now. It was easy to scorn and condemn their behaviour. It was not so easy to stand up for MSP when Coalition Snow demanded something from them. The North remembers, fellas.

        3) Platforming and no platforming is where it gets interesting. In this day and age everyone has a platform on their own social media. A business taking a stance here feels like self-looting to me. Well, it’s their choice to me, but why not just sideline it, make a blank post with links to JE’s and LK’s social media and their statements there?

        4) You all are entitled to feeling privileged, sure. But assuming you can right these wrongs by doing this and that is… privileged and entitled? By assuming that you know better how to help those who you think need help? Don’t mind the sophistics though. Compared to other speakers, I’m not privileged at all.

        • Hi Quilimanjaro.

          Thank you for positing. It’s always interesting to hear other views. That said, I don’t agree with what you wrote. I offer my thoughts below.

          In your first post you wrote, “Skiing is a privilege? I work hard at a stressful and demanding job to be able to ski and go outdoors to be in that moment. And you better bet that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.” In your second post you wrote, “Compared to other speakers, I’m not privileged at all.”

          Your words indicate the following: 1) You don’t think skiing is a privilege, you think it’s a right you have earned by working a stressful and demanding job,” and 2) You think that the way you work (hard) and the job you do (stressful and demanding) is not everybody’s cup of tea. Another way to phrase that is you believe many people don’t like to work hard at difficult jobs, or that many people are lazy and indolent. Is that the way you feel about the people involved in the protest movement? That’s a rather bold position. If you can ski regularly, your job is definitely more remunerative, and absolutely less stressful and demanding, than the work performed by the poor. I have no idea what kind of work you do, but the idea that high-paying, demanding jobs are stressful and bad for your health and deserve some kind of special recognition is a myth: stress and health track income, at all levels, controlling for other factors. That is, if you ski regularly, you are are wealthy and healthy enough to do so, and enjoy great privilege, especially compared to poor minorities in urban areas, people who you might believe do not work as hard or are not as stressed as you, and somehow do not deserve the same moments in the outdoors that you enjoy. Or, to employ the admittedly annoying language used by the young, “Check your privilege.”

          Regarding your bullet points:

          1) One can take this argument to whatever level of abstraction and philosophy you like, but, in the end, civil society is founded on collective right/wrong, good/bad moral judgements, flexible as they might be, and change as they may over time. I suspect that, despite you apparent objection, in a different situation, you would have no problem asserting moral imperatives, or saying one thing is good, another bad. For example, how would you feel about people walking around wearing Nazi symbols, or clothing advertising child abuse? I hope you’d take a vocal stand about that, and support others doing the same. I suspect that what you object to here is not that people are expressing their views, but something about the issues themselves, i.e. race relations, the justification for police to use force or not, individual responsibility vs. environmental determinants in communities, and so forth. Basically, I get the feeling from your posts that there’s much about this civil movement that you do not agree with.

          2) Of course, in some sense you are correct; after this round of protests, social media posts, arguments, and so on, much will likely return to the way it was before. And many people will never take any real steps to work toward change, beyond re-tweeting a post or two. However, would you prefer people did nothing? Let’s suppose that for every 10, 20, or 100 posts, perhaps a few people donate to the NAACP or Campaign Zero, talk to friends and family, write letters to elected officials, and vote. That’s positive. All the talk and awareness building is part of a process that may (slowly) change people’s thoughts and actions. Recognizing this, I don’t know how somebody can be offended by that process, unless they fundamentally disagree with the content or direction of the movement.

          3) Why should we, or how can we, separate business from important social and moral issues? We live in a time when our conduct in our “personal” sphere influences our “work sphere” and vice versa. Has it ever been any different? Should it be? It’s impossible to create a space devoid of larger influence, and that’s a good thing. Now, Blister readers know that the people behind the site care about these issues. That’s a good thing. And it’s good business.

          4) In your last point you extend the argument that it’s a kind of arrogance or superiority for one group of people to think they can help another group of people. Or, more simply, it’s arrogant and superior for white people to presume to know how to solve the problems of black people. I’ve heard this argument before, I think that it’s often valid. But not in this case. In the original post, I don’t see any presumption of knowledge, just a call to address issues, whatever they may be, and to listen, talk, and learn as much as possible. Furthermore, seeing as white people are one-half of this problem (white vs. black), as well as the group that enjoys privilege and wields power, they obviously need to be part of the solution. They need to be involved–how could they remain silent? Again, I don’t think you would have levied this argument at all if your central point was not to share your distaste for the sentiments expressed by this movement.

          I apologize if I’ve miss-characterized your views; clarifications and ongoing discussion welcome.

          • Hey Bruno, that’s ok, apologies accepted and appreciated. You got me wrong, but that might be due to my rusty English. I was saying that not everyone can or will appreciate skiing the way I, for example, do, or you do. Would they? Should they?

            Re: bullet points, I’m only going to consider your reply to 3). First of all, separation of work and personal life is necessary. Remember that diversity? thing? That was all the rage in the 00’s. People with different views and backgrounds working together was considered beneficial. Have the underlying assumptions change?

            I have no judgement or attitude towards the movement itself. It’s your country and your communities, you get to decide what is important, what needs to be vocalized and expressed. But I have do have strong negative feelings towards marauding, violence and property damage. I was but a kid when my parents’ business was vandalized (minor damage), but I still remember that feeling. Good thing that internet businesses can’t be vandalized or marauded like that. Means and ends should be aligned for a decent policy intervention to work, but I feel that widespread echo-chamber support encourages that violence in the streets. So silent donations may do more good in this case.

            I wish you all peace and safety in these troubled times though.

            • Separation of work and life and workplace diversity are matters between employers and their current and potential employees. If, say, Sam Shaheen felt offended by this advocacy then he would have standing to take that up with Jonathan. That’s not something that you or I or anybody other than that small group of people have standing to police or weigh in on.

              Again, if you don’t like it, don’t read it. But please don’t tell them to stop. They’re free to use their platform to express themselves (and they’re nicely allowing you and I to use it to express *our* opinions. They actually don’t have to do that. Nothing in the membership terms entitles us to comment, either).

            • Hi Qilimanjaro (cool name, by the way). Thanks for your words. It is difficult, or impossible, to great real sense through writing posts. It would be interesting to sit down and have a discussion, perhaps on a chair lift, or after a day or skiing. All the best.

    • Legalistically speaking you’re paying to read whatever Blister decides to post. The terms of membership say that you’re entitled to certain content (deep dives, flash reviews) but don’t place any constraints upon other content.

      I for one wouldn’t find much meaning in grinding out another flash review or whatever under the current circumstances. Many of the possibilities going forward are frankly terrifying

  7. Hello Fellow Blister readers,

    As somebody who posted early on this thread, I’d like to step back in with a few thoughts.

    First, to add to the important list of links posted above, I would add Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp.

    Second, there’s the whole question of whether of not a forum like Blister is an appropriate space for a political, social, or moral discussion. That’s a personal matter, but, in my view, Blister is not simply a business, but a community, and it seems to me that Jonathan, Luke, and the whole team have worked to make it so. Therefore, like in any community, when there are events in the world that are important, and when strong case could be made that remaining silent contributes to the problem, I fully support having these discussions. And to Blister, I would say, for every member you might disappoint by providing this space, you will gain the loyalty of others. I admire that fact that you have let this thread stand. Thank you.

    Last, there’s the whole question of racial differences, and the extent to which they are or are not supported by biology and genetics. This is really another topic all together, but, because it is so directly related to racism, and because it is a subject I have engaged with deeply and teach frequently, I would like to highlight what Patrick wrote above, “I completely agree that race is a social (and all too often a political) construct, with no underlying scientific justification.” That is absolutely true; race, in the way it is commonly understood, has no scientific basis. And yet, there is some biological and genetic meaning of “race.” For example, race can be an important clinical factor in medical settings. Or, to take another example, if you took a group of people from around the world, who had a minimum level of knowledge different countries and continents, and showed them pictures of a characteristically Northern European face, a Native American Indian face, an Australian aboriginal face, an Asian face, a Central African face, and so on (setting aside for a moment the difficult question of what constitutes a characteristic face from a particular region) most people could, with a high degree of accuracy, classify these faces by the term we call “race.” To state this a different way, physical differences between people around the world often show a high degree of “inter-observer correlation.” So what does that mean? Is there such a thing as race, after all? This is why the subject of race is so difficult to talk about or teach. I think it is not enough to simply say, “There is no such thing as race,” because that contradicts our common experience. Instead, we have to think carefully about what race does and does not mean, in terms of biology and history. If you do so, as I said above, the evidence shows that there are no fundamental genetic differences between groups of people around the world, and there are good reasons to believe that we will never find such differences, reasons based on science. If anybody does want to learn more about this subject (a very deep dive), get in touch, and I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned.

    All the best.

  8. I was mulling over what to write here as I feel that I want to support and contribute, but also feel under-qualified and somehow overwhelmed. Luckily Bruno’s eloquence beat me to it. Regarding his second point I wholeheartedly agree. You are not trying to tell me what to think, but you are giving a view and it’s clearly from the heart, not to curry favour.

    Bruno’s first point and the link to know your rights camp made me smile as I had been thinking about one of my favourite bands, The Clash, and their song Know Your Rights. Released almost 40 years ago now, but still sadly relevant. Written at a time in Thatcher’s Britain where we saw race related riots, but plenty of other issues mixed in (miners strike, shift to capitalism, mass unemployment). Alternatively I could cite the Consolidated/Paris song Guerilla’s in the Mist, which still gives me goosebumps as you hear the sheer anger relating to those who murdered Rodney King.

    So what’s the point? This is not a trawl through some great protest music, but rather a question about what next. I could be pessimistic and say we are just playing out the same scenario and expecting a different outcome (the good old definition of insanity). I choose to be optimistic, which is far from easy at this point. It’s too easy to sit back and expect change to come from the top in any part of our lives, but change also has to come from within and from ourselves. If we tolerate or turn a blind eye then we are not true to ourselves, so I commit to be more bold on this topic where I can have an influence, to commit to listening to the leadership from my daughters and their generation, because goodness knows this generation has got it wrong on so many topics.

    Keep up the good work and keep encouraging the dialogue, not just now and the next five minutes, but all the time, make it part of the fabric.

  9. Alright Blister:

    First – I don’t think we are likely to have a productive conversation here about these issues but since it’s happening AND I love and care for the outdoors and a life of adventure I figured I would chime in. If there is anywhere to have a respectful online discussion maybe this is it. We’ll see.

    Second, as someone who has been in law enforcement (as a prosecutor) for nearly 25 years I have some actual experience, training, and education on the issues.

    Third, the EVIDENCE does not support any systemic racism or institutional police brutality against African-Americans. The narrative being pushed by the mainstream media and the BLM folks is FALSE. There are very few instances of unarmed people of any race being killed by police. In 2019 for example nine unarmed black Americans were shot dead by cops and 19 unarmed white people were also shot and killed. Looked at each individual case indicates that most if not all were justified shootings. I have read multiple studies on the issues and actual books (I know – I’m a dinosour) that look at this issue. If someone who knows the issues wants to have a substantive respectful debate of this issue I am happy to discuss but this point is pretty clear. The numbers above came from the Washington Post and you can study this for yourself :

    Fourth, the evidence does not support that white Americans are more violent towards black Americans. Here is some older data but I doubt it’s changed recently. “Between 2012 and 2015, blacks committed 85.5 percent of all black-white interracial violent victimizations (excluding interracial homicide, which is also disproportionately black-on-white). That works out to 540,360 felonious assaults on whites. Whites committed 14.4 percent of all interracial violent victimization, or 91,470 felonious assaults on blacks. Blacks are less than 13 percent of the national population.” The reality is that young black men are mostly killed by other young black men, most homicide victims are killed by someone of the same race, interacial homicide is the rare exception.

    Finally, there is no debate that officers sometimes commit crimes. And there is no debate that when that happens they should be held accountable and prosecuted. I have personally prosecuted officers, corrections officials, and the kid of a judge. No one is arguing this and the cops that appear to have killed Mr. Floyd have been arrested and are facing charges as have many other officers across the country. We don’t need protests or riots to establish this point. It’s uncontested.

    So why are there currently riots? My pinion, and that’s all it is, is that this is happening because there is a political party supported by the mainstream media that thinks dividing us and sowing hate will accrue to it’s benefit. They don’t care about the truth and they don’t care about crime victims. The majority of crime victims are poor people – often minorities and the media and the ruling class couldn’t give two craps about them – only how to keep power. That’s what this is all about.

    I’m happy to discuss or we can get back to gear and the outdoors – your call Jonathan and Luke.

    Respectfully, Steve.

    • This my only reply to this as I really have no desire to turn Blister into some FB ramble of politics. But I’d like to merely point out that the above post seems like pre-canned propaganda. Anytime you see “EVIDENCE” in all caps and a reference to the front page of the Washington Post and no specific study, ya gotta wonder.

      1. There are many studies showing systemic discrimination for minorities in American. Particularly the criminal justice system. Since you used the front page of the Washington Post, I used an actual article, though I always recommend anyone to look at source material.

      2. Yes, blacks have a better chance of dying from another black person. 200+ years of slavery another 100 of discrimination destroys committees. However consider that the basic pillars of civilization are not on your side. Or any confrontation with the police is a gamble. I have lived in predominately black neighborhoods and the level of distrust in the police is palpable. In some ways, my neighbors liked that white people moved into their neighborhood because police would start actually policing crime. I could call, and a cop would show up for incidents.

      3. What is the mainstream media? You hear this over and over, but it remains this generalization without any substance. If you want good news, there is good news out there. My personal favorite is actually reading the Economist. But let’s say you’re a “conservative” and only conservative news is true, Christian Science Monitor I find refreshingly different. In general stay away from any TV news. Read articles more than five paragraphs (one could argue 10). Check source links.

      4. My ‘pinion? People are DEMONSTRATING because they are pissed off seeing black people killed for doing things I can’t imagine being killed for. No one is rioting. But there is looting. See there excellent article by vox below. And the cops that should be deescalating, are escalating using tear gas, physical intimidation and light munitions. Since the world demonstrations, all four cops are now charged, and the primary suspect …see the above for current circumstance. I think this is crazy. I lived in Japan. People don’t die from gun violence, and the cops don’t go around killing people. It can be done, and not from a show of force.

      vox looting:

      But what do I know? I’m part of the ruling class. We are firmly in control. Do not be alarmed.

      • Nice. Classic move – start with an ad-hominem attack to de-humanize the person you disagree with. I said I would be happy to have a real discussion but not with garbage like this. Cheers, Steve

    • Hi Steve,

      Thanks for posting. I really appreciate your contribution. I think your perspective is important; You are a veteran prosecutor, certainly somebody with an interesting perspective, somebody who should be part of the conversation!

      Nonetheless, as you might gather by my previous posts, I don’t agree with what you are saying at all. In the spirit of respectful discussion, I’ll share my thoughts below.

      Let’s start with the numbers you quoted. You state that in 2019 nine black people and nineteen white people were shot and killed by police. There are probably other groups included in the source numbers (Latino? Asian?) but let’s just stay with the numbers you gave. Nine plus nineteen is twenty-eight total deaths. Nine black people represent thirty-two percent of that total; nineteen white people represent about sixty-seven percent. And yet, as you state, black people make up about twelve to thirteen percent of the US population. Therefore–according to your numbers–black people are killed by police than twice as much as you would expect based on their percent representation in the population, if there was no systematic racism or institutional police brutality involved. I’m the first to acknowledge that numbers are tricky (“Statistics never lie, but only liars use statistics”) and I know these numbers could be looked at from other perspectives, but, if nothing else, this shows that much of the evidence you cite would almost certainly be interpreted in different ways by others.

      The remaining numbers you quote concern assault. You wrote, “The reality is that young black men are mostly killed by other young black men, most homicide victims are killed by someone of the same race, inter-racial homicide is the rare exception.” I would add that, based on your numbers, when interracial assault does occur, it’s usually black-on-white, and not white-on-black.

      There’s nothing I want to contest about those numbers–they seem plausible, and I have no reason to believe they’re not true. But there’s something at the heart of these numbers–at the heart of this whole conversation–that I think is important to talk about. I’ll address that below, but first, I’d like to briefly touch on some related issues that are important to mention before going further.

      First, during these protests, I have not heard anything contradicting your numbers. That is, I haven’t heard leaders proclaiming that hordes of white people systematically attack blacks, or that black-on-black crime is not a problem. Instead, as much as any widespread movement has a single focused message, this movement is about police brutality, the excessive use of force, which results in a disproportionate number of blacks deaths at the hands of police. This is supported by your numbers–see my point above. In this sense, the latter numbers you quote aren’t really relevant.

      Second, you have presented numbers about violent assaults in the last decade. For the sake of argument, let’s extend that time frame back…one hundred years, two hundred years, three hundred years. I think it’s obvious that, if we did so, white-on-black violence would absolutely overwhelm black-on-white violence. Some may claim these events occurred too far in the past to make a difference today, but I think they are a critical historical factor that can help explain the present. As Faulkner (a white writer from the South) said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

      Third, you have focused on assault, but what if, as above, we expanded our definition of crime? What if we included robbery, property crime, and so forth. At first glance, not much would change. I am sure the numbers would show the black people are the perpetrators of far more of these crimes than white people. However, what if we included crimes like financial malfeasance, fraud, insider trading, predatory business practices, and so on. I think we would agree that white people would overwhelmingly be guilty of these crimes, compared to black people. And when you consider the practices of large business, and the people who run them, for example, banks that speculate on real estate, chemical companies that pollute the environment, oil companies that support corrupt regimes, and on and on and on, I think it’s impossible to escape the fact that white people are behind these crimes, and that they get away with murder, certainly figuratively, often literally. Therefore, I think that, before we fall into the convenient trap of believing that, “most crime is committed by black people,” we have to expand our perspective.

      However, let’s set these abstract arguments aside, and tighten our focus. As your numbers show, a great deal of crime in the US–violent crime, property crime–is committed by black people. I imagine that police, public defenders, prosecutors, judges, prison guards, social workers, and so on, must struggle with this fact. Over and over, black suspects, black criminals, black prisoners. It must be saddening, depressing, frustrating. I’ve heard police defend themselves by saying, “it’s not racial profile–I’m just doing my job! More crime is committed by black people!”

      It’s hard to know where to start when confronted by this reality, but I think one way is to consider poverty and history. Quite simply, a disproportionate number of black people are poor, and crime tracks poverty. So, the problem is not one of race, but one of poverty. Or, the problem involves both race and poverty. How can we explain the great poverty of black communities? By history, and institutionalized and structural racism, at every level, laid out in terrible sequence, from slavery, to segregation, to the creation of ghettos and red-lining, to school funding, job discrimination, access to health care, and so on. Now, I’m well aware that this, in turn, opens the door to another broad argument about to what extent the achievements of a person or a group of people can be explained external and environmental factors as opposed to personal characteristics and actions, but before going down this road, consider the alternative: if we do not explain black crime and poverty through history and external factors, how can they be explained? Historically, they have been explained with racist views: “Blacks commit crime because they are criminals by nature,” or, “Blacks are poor because they are lazy, stupid, inferior, and so on.” Clearly, that’s what a good number of people believe today, either consciously or unconsciously. And that brings me back to my argument about race and genetics–these kinds of views are the reason that I build a high school syllabus around exploring the biology of race and genetics. That’s my way to approach the problem.

      All the best, B.

  10. Luke, Jonathan, et Al at Blister.

    Thank you again for this post. And those saying Blister shouldn’t post or speak out with things like this they are dead wrong.

  11. Stick to your knitting, as people from lower class Wisconsin like me used to say.

    I don’t subscribe for this pretentious, shallow, sophomoric, guilt ridden virtue signaling.

    What’s next – rating skis by white privelege manufacturers and users?

  12. Nicholas–your post is too offensive to ignore.

    Where to start? How about your first statement, “Stick to your knitting.” That’s about as sexist as it gets, telling people to stick to their specialties (in this case ski reviews), the way that women should stick to knitting. Yes, of course, it’s just a saying, but I can only assume your views of women are repugnant as your views on race.

    Or what about the second thing you wrote? “As people from lower class Wisconsin like me used to say.” That’s virtue signalling, clear as day. You are broadcasting your belief that your upbringing (presumably in a poor part of Wisconsin) lends you some special sort of special status, wisdom or validity, compared to others who grew up with more money in other states.

    As for your list of adjectives (pretentious, shallow, sophomoric, guilt-ridden) I suggest you think about how they apply to your own post. And I suggest you actually read through the comments above; you may not agree with the content, but your chosen terms simply don’t apply.

    Last, about rating skis by white privilege of manufacturers, why not? Consider how often people make purchasing decisions because a product is or is not made in America? What your propose is no different.

    If all companies were transparent, if we could see the values that are represented within, or whether work is being done to improve society, we would have important information for making decisions.

    I wouldn’t buy a pair of skis–no matter how well they performed–from a company that did not support the current social movement.

    So, yes, “rating skis by white privilege,” or, more broadly, taking the values and actions of business into account when making purchasing decisions.

    I’m all for open, intelligent debate with people who have opposing views (see above comments). But voices like your really aren’t about conversation, they’re just shouting, from a position of anger and fear.

  13. Hey Bruno, thanks for the undoubtedly unintentional but predictably hilarious reply.
    I didn’t say anything about women or race, but how did you forget homophobic in your no doubt well practiced litany of knee-jerk mindless ranting accusations?
    If you Google you will find that the origins of “stick to your knitting” had nothing to do with women, but with business.
    My “virtue signalling” was just to establish where I learned the “stick to your knitting” saying.
    If you want to think I think it somehow lends me special status – go ahead. I would rather have had real special status.
    Maybe you can help me understand how my adjectives apply to my post. All I said was stick to your knitting and what’s next re rating skis and users by white privilege.

    To the next part of your reply, I say, good for you, your choice.

    You sure make a lot of assumptions about people you don’t know, like my voice is just shouting from fear and anger?
    But I guess I’m not a person, I’m “voices like you”.

  14. Hi Nicholas.

    With due respect, I am consistently surprised how people reference material that undermines their own arguments, as Steve did above with his numbers, and you did with “Stick to knitting.”

    I did what you asked–I went and Googled “Stick to your knitting.” Guess what I found? As you suggest, it is commonly used in business. But it has an undeniable sexist meaning, a use supported by considerable evidence. It appears that one of the earliest uses of the term, if not the earliest, was the following, from an Evangelical magazine in 1839:

    “Also, an earlier form of the expression goes back considerably farther, with an unmistakable gender-conscious edge. From John Austin, “A Voice to the Married,” in Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate (June 28, 1839):

    In neglecting to repose this confidence in his wife, does not the husband cast an ungenerous suspicion upon her capabilities? When he keeps her in as total an ignorance of his affairs as possible—when he will not deign to consult her even in relation to transactions of the most grave and weighty importance, and which may involve her and her children in poverty and want through life—what is it but virtually saying to her—”your mind is too feeble, your discernment too contracted, your general ignorance vastly too great to become my adviser!—attend to your knitting and sewing, look after the cooking, take care of the children—for these are all the subjects which you have ability to comprehend!”

    So, when you tell the Blister crew to “Stick to their knitting,” you are repeating the advice offered to married evangelical women in the nineteenth century. Now that’s hilarious!

    There is another citation from the same source that is relevant to our discussion. It’s from 1898, and it involves business, advertising, propaganda, and patriotism. It describes a use of the term during the Spanish-American war; an author suggested that people resist the urge to advertise the war effort, and instead stick to what they know. This is much closer to what you perhaps intended:

    “In the heat of anticipated events there will be hard work to keep “war” out of advertising. It goes against the grain to keep still when everybody seems to be talking upon a subject in which you are interested. It seems almost like a repression of patriotism.”

    So what’s correct? What’s patriotic? To give voice to and support the current political movement? Or to remain silent? Clearly, people have been arguing about this for hundreds of years.

    Regarding your adjectives–pretentious, shallow, sophomoric, guilt-ridden–I reiterate that I don’t see those qualities in the original post nor subsequent comments. If you care to, identify clearly the words and sentences of others that you take issue with, and speak directly that.

    Otherwise, it’s just you shouting.

    • I’ve thought quite a bit about whether to say this, but two sayings come to mind:

      Don’t feed the trolls.

      Don’t wrestle with a pig (even a virtuous one from Wisconsin). You’ll both get muddy, but the difference is that the pig likes it that way (alternately: “Don’t argue with an imbecile. They’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience”).

  15. As all of you deniers of white privilege get more and more and more alienated by the tidal wave of businesses, websites, celebrities, athletes, friends, and family throwing their support behind BLM, I encourage you to consider why your safe space is getting even narrower. I’m often wrong. You may be.

    • While I strongly believe in white privilege and its pervasive and corrosive impacts, I recoil a bit at arguments based on “what influencers/businesses/etc believe”. Popular figures’ opinions are fickle, while morals and ethics more constant (though not absolutely so, depending on which philosophical worldview you subscribe to – I’ll leave that thorny topic to people with more knowledge than I).

      IMO murder by police without due process for minimal crimes crosses a hard and fast moral line. So does systematically oppressing and disadvantaging an entire community over many centuries. If we need “influencers” to tell us that this is so then we are fundamentally depraved as a society.

      Before “appealing to authority” I think that we should ideally ask: Would my opinion be any different if those authorities believed the opposite? If the answer is “no” (as it is here) then just don’t go there. If it is “yes”, then IMO we should worry that we have fallen prey to mob psychology, and consider whether to add our voices at all.

      Don’t get me wrong: Supporters with widespread influence are a terrific boon to any movement like this, and they are doing good work by using their platform to get the message out. All I’m saying is that their status alone (as opposed to the content of that message) should not be a reason to reconsider one’s opinions. All IMO.

  16. The premise of your response if false, Patrick. I’m not sure how you could misread so much into my post; it’s only two lines long, and it very obviously does NOT state that Black lives matter BECAUSE that’s what influencers think. You’re not reading carefully. Try harder.

    • No, I understood perfectly well. Perhaps you don’t recognize what your words meant?

      “consider why your safe space is getting even narrower” is a direct call to consider his opinions based on those of others (the former providers of said “safe space:). It’s as explicit an appeal to mob psychology as any.

      To be clear I agree with your bottom line, I just disagree that whether that opinion is socially “safe” (your wording) or not should have nothing to do with it.

  17. Look at the rest of your comment. You write: “If we need ‘influencers’ to tell us that this is so then we are fundamentally depraved as a society.” I didn’t say that. Don’t put words in my mouth. You also write: “murder by police without due process for minimal crimes crosses a hard and fast moral line.” Nothing I wrote refutes that. Don’t put words in my mouth. Seriously. Stop attributing DUMB arguments that I DID NOT make to me.

  18. Anyone else read through all of these comments and walk away thinking “Bruno Schull is the Man!!!”

    I wish everyone communicated their thoughts and feelings as well as he did. His ability to show others respect regardless of their opinions, and engage in meaningful discourse was impressive. I hope others try to emulate this approach in the future.


  19. Hi Steve, thanks for the kind words. It does take time and consideration, but I’m lucky that in general written words come easily to me. I really do think the issues are important, and over here in Europe, where I live, it’s hard to watch the events unfolding back home, and not feel a desire to participate, somehow. All the best, B.

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