Listening & Learning

Last week our country had yet another sobering reminder that our society continues to be plagued by systemic racism. The VMBA board of directors, the staff and I took a minute to listen, take stock and begin uncovering the best ways to be a part of sustained, measurable solutions. I’m not pretending to know exactly what to do right now. I don’t. What I do know is that listening is a place to start and being silent moving forward isn’t an option.

Some reading this would rather their mountain bike organization not enter into racial justice issues – “just make sure we have trails to ride.” The types of solutions that we need right now need to come from everywhere. Our core mission is to chapters and trails – it’s also to ensure that everyone that wants to, has an equal opportunity to enjoy them. But, candidly, this issue isn’t about mountain biking – it’s about something much more important.

VMBA is committed to learning how we invite the world to participate and launched an active diversity team to examine how we can be more inclusive. The work ranges from verbiage/images on websites, rethinking event types and channeling funding to new adaptive trails. A big part of this learning will come from Chapters. This effort represents the beginnings of our work. We acknowledge that putting effort into diversity and inclusion doesn’t mean that we’re effectively facing racism head on.

Moving forward, VMBA will engage other organizations and encourage them to band together and work towards a more just society in Vermont and beyond in the following ways:

  1. We will be seeking new partnerships with organizations/businesses that are taking measurable steps to share education for us all.
  2. We will look for opportunities to partner with organizations/businesses that are taking tangible steps to support minority initiatives and share these connections in newsletters.
  3. VMBA appreciates and respects the difficult job that law enforcement has. Moving forward we will keep VMBA members informed of any legislation that will support our law enforcement to receive more diversity, implicit bias, and de-escalation training.
  4. Each week, we will be reaching out to one Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) business owner and offer opportunities to share a message with the VMBA riding community about their business.
  5. VMBA will sponsor free diversity training to anyone that wants to attend – dates will be announced with plenty of notice. This will be virtual and all are welcome.

In case you haven’t seen the list BIPOC-owned businesses in Vermont, take a look at the attached spreadsheet. Please make note of the links at the top of the page and keep these businesses in mind going forward.

BIPOC-Owned Vermont Businesses

I know this is just a start. We will keep learning, working and doing all we can to be a part of the solution. Thank you for reading.


Tom Stuessy

5 thoughts on “Listening & Learning

  1. Thank you for your quick response on this issue and taking steps to make a sport that we all love, more inclusive. And thanks for the list of BIPOC-Owned VT businesses!

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