Asher Hill says Skate Canada ignored his complaints of "racism, misogyny, homophobia, abuse of skater"

Sylvia

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Asher discussed his career, institutionalized racism in skating, and Black Lives Matter with Nam Kiwanuka on TVO's The Agenda program earlier tonight:
 

Sylvia

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Tweeted by Asher today: https://twitter.com/AsherHill/status/1283913550566756353
The document that FSDIA has been working on has now been published and sent out to @SkateCanada! Join the many Olympic, World, National, athletes', performers, coaches, choreographers, and professors in supporting our "6 Calls to Action"
Link to the Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance's petition:

ETA:

FSDIA = Figure Skating Diversity & Inclusion Alliance https://www.instagram.com/figureskatingdia/
Our mission is to foster a more diverse & inclusive figure skating environment world wide for the next generation of athletes. ✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽✊🏼
 
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Sylvia

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Asher Hill just tweeted this CBC article about fellow FSDIA member Mariyah Gerber (she competed in the U.S. as Mariyah Thurston then retired at 17 to skate professionally with Disney on Ice and eventually met and married former Canadian-born ice dancer Peter Gerber with whom she performed as an adagio pair): https://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/...sports-figure-skater-mariyah-gerber-1.5655858

FSDIA member and U.S. coach Michelle Hong had an Instagram Live (part of her "Paving the Way” series) with Mariyah Gerber on July 2nd: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CCJwTH5JTsg/
 
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rrobinson

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Each Black Skater's experience will be different based on their physical appearance/ethnicity/culture/socio-economic background and generation they entered the sport. Debi Thomas faced strong initial challenges as she was the very first Black skater. That subsided when her upper-middle class background and persistence in the sport became apparent. She also acknowledged having plastic surgery which somewhat lessened her "ethnic" appearance.

Surya Bonaly faced more Colorism than actual "Racism" as she was much darker than Debi and had very strong African features which clashed with commonly held beauty standards. Mei-Berenice Meite, who like Surya, is an ethnic Ivorian (Surya's birth parents were from the Ivory Coast NOT Reunion); confirms that she frequently receives racist taunts and even threats on-line for looking "too Black". I actually suspect Asher Hill actually dealt with more "Colorism" than "Racism". His experiences seemed much more intense than Elladj Balde's.

And what about Vanessa? Vanessa James is likely being 100% truthful that she experienced little to no racism. While she is dark-skinned, she possesses "delicate" facial features and an extremely petite body type which conform more to the skating community's expectations than either Surya's or Mae- Meite's.

All of this combined with the fact that she comes from an extremely affluent and prominent Washington D.C. family would make her "race" significantly less noticeable.


When I saw his original tweets, I thought I was having a fever dream or acid trip. I'm gobsmacked by his bravery, and so happy he's speaking out. I believe this is good for current and future competitive skaters, as well. Kudos doesn't cover it.



I'm sure her experience as a true international athlete gives her a different perspective on racism. (International being Canadian-born, lived in Bermuda, Represented US/UK/France, etc) But I'd be super curious to find that interview. Maybe she did say she was lucky to not experience racism, and maybe she did mean in general. A black friend of mine is hella racist herself, and doesn't think she experiences "much" racism, so it's not unheard of for me. But I find myself wanting to assume she was just saying it to keep an interview drama-free, and that is my own unfair assumption.

This from last year doesn't prove either way, because it's the kind of mega-positive spin Vanessa seems to put on everything. She shouldn't have to talk about race in the sport just because she's black, and I get a small impression she's more comfortable keeping it at a distance.





Thank you for this. Agreed.

I've sadly long-compartmentalized the ISU's ass-backward mode of operation. Whether it's a snooty European caricature of a federation head, or Skate Canada chirpily playing the "well, we aren't the USA" schtick, I just expect the worst and enjoy when I'm pleasantly surprised.
 

Japanfan

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Surya Bonaly faced more Colorism than actual "Racism" as she was much darker than Debi and had very strong African features which clashed with commonly held beauty standards.

Could you please explain what you think the difference is between colorism and racism?
 

Lemonade20

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Each Black Skater's experience will be different based on their physical appearance/ethnicity/culture/socio-economic background and generation they entered the sport. Debi Thomas faced strong initial challenges as she was the very first Black skater. That subsided when her upper-middle class background and persistence in the sport became apparent. She also acknowledged having plastic surgery which somewhat lessened her "ethnic" appearance.

Surya Bonaly faced more Colorism than actual "Racism" as she was much darker than Debi and had very strong African features which clashed with commonly held beauty standards. Mei-Berenice Meite, who like Surya, is an ethnic Ivorian (Surya's birth parents were from the Ivory Coast NOT Reunion); confirms that she frequently receives racist taunts and even threats on-line for looking "too Black". I actually suspect Asher Hill actually dealt with more "Colorism" than "Racism". His experiences seemed much more intense than Elladj Balde's.

And what about Vanessa? Vanessa James is likely being 100% truthful that she experienced little to no racism. While she is dark-skinned, she possesses "delicate" facial features and an extremely petite body type which conform more to the skating community's expectations than either Surya's or Mae- Meite's.

All of this combined with the fact that she comes from an extremely affluent and prominent Washington D.C. family would make her "race" significantly less noticeable.
“Colorism”?? FFS are you serious?
 

Sylvia

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ETA an excerpt:
The funny thing is, the word colorism doesn’t even exist. Not officially. It autocorrects on one’s computer screen. It does not appear in the dictionary. Still, the author and activist Alice Walker is the person most often credited with first using the word colorism, out loud and in print. In an essay that appeared in her 1983 book, In Search of our Mothers’ Gardens, Walker defined colorism as “prejudicial or preferential treatment of same-race people based solely on their color.” Light-skin preference had been common practice in the black community for generations, but Walker gave it a name and marked it as an evil that must be stopped in order for African Americans to progress as a people.
 
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rrobinson

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Seriously?

“The funny thing is, the word colorism doesn’t even exist. Not officially.”
I would prefer not to deviate too much from the original thread or stir debate as my intention was to offer insight as a Black person with an insight in skating. I can strongly attest Colorism is something many persons of African and South Asian descent deal with or have dealt with. It's been heavily researched and documented throughout the years.

I feel very uncomfortable explaining the meaning of Colorism here because I am not certain this is a safe subject to bring up in this forum. Based on the response so far, I'm genuinely afraid of being attacked. However, There are hundreds of informative articles, many scholarly, as well as videos on the subject available through Google Search or Youtube.
 

marbri

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I didn't understand rrobinson's original post about colorism. I googled to learn more and realized I have heard of this, just wasn't aware of the term. I originally heard about it years ago when I saw a product, face bleach, being advertised for Asian women. Didn't understand at the time why anyone would want to bleach their face and learned all about "colorism" in Bollywood and other Asian countries.

I don't want to speak for someone with much more knowledge and experience but what I am picking up is that rrobinson is saying that Asher's experiences within seem much more intense than Elladj's is due to Colorism. Asher is darker than Elladj. The lighter the colour the "better" the experience.

Here are two easy reads that might help. Nothing scholarly here but a quick read to give an idea :

Colorism in Hollywood:

And a quick read explaining a bit about the type of product I mentioned:

ps.. Don't want to step on rrobinson's contribution but as she seems uneasy/afraid I thought I'd jump in on the odd chance it helps get her point across.
 

Barbara Manatee

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genevieve

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“Colorism”?? FFS are you serious?

Seriously?

“The funny thing is, the word colorism doesn’t even exist. Not officially.”
Why are you being such a dick about this? It took me a 2 second search to find numerous sources for what colorism is and how it differs/fits within the spectrum of racial discrimination.
 

Orm Irian

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In support of rrobinson and other posters above, colourism - increased discrimination against people of colour with darker skins as compared to people with lighter skins - is absolutely a real phenomenon which has been documented across many cultures, including the US and Canada, the UK, India, South Korea and right here in Australia, where it bordered on a genocidal practice. If you've ever heard a reference to the 'paper bag test' in the US, that was colourism - companies with a policy of 'officially' being equal-opportunity but in practice never hiring anyone whose skin tone was darker than a paper bag, parents advising their children never to marry anyone likewise so that their children would be more likely to have pale skin, etc. In India and South Korea, as marbri mentioned, there's the emphasis on women in particular needing to have pale skin (implying that they've never had to work in the sun, ie are not working-class), in Bollywood and kpop and society in general). In Australia one way it manifested was in the policy of removing Aboriginal children with lighter-coloured skin from their parents by hook or by crook so that they could be adopted by white families or hired by white employers and made 'white by association', which not to put too fine a point on it was part of a deliberate attempt to kill off Aboriginal people altogether. It is very real, it is definitely a facet of racism - including internalised racism and survival strategies, see the paper bag test and 'passing' in the US - and I can absolutely believe it has impacted the skating careers of darker-skinned skaters including Asher Hill, Surya Bonaly, Debi Thomas, Emmanuel Savary and Mae-Berenice Meite in particular. I have personally seen some absolutely vile racist comments on YouTube videos of Mae-Berenice's programs and they attack her appearance, the colour of her skin and her physical build almost every time, comparing her to animals and saying she has no place on the ice, and while I've seen racist comments directed at Vanessa James as well, they're more likely to be coded and less likely to be about her appearance. It's one more thing the skating community needs to be aware of when it's working on addressing issues of racial discrimination in skating - including in judging.
 

Lemonade20

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My apologies, I had no idea what the whole context was. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard of colorism and it absolutely upset me.
 

rrobinson

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If hearing a word like "Colorism" is upsetting, please consider how upsetting it is for Mae-Berenice Meite to be called a "Primate", and told she doesn't belong in the sport because she's "too Black". If you go to the comments under her Youtube videos, the overwhelming majority are polite; but there is a very vocal minority who criticize Mae for having strong African features.

Mae acknowledges she's read these comments and mentioned that they are deeply upsetting.

The purpose of bringing up Colorism was merely to explain how some Black skaters may face certain additional challenges on top of just being Black.
 

tony

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Colorism 100% a thing within Hispanic communities as well. The darker you are in some circles, the more uneducated/poor you are by default for some people, regardless of what your wealth or education actually are. We heard a lot about this 'white versus the rest' stuff when it came to certain Latino immigrants supporting Trump, and I don't think there's any place better in the US to repeatedly see this kind of behavior than good 'ole Miami.
 

kwanfan1818

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Colorism is rampant in ballet, too. Even at Cuban National Ballet, the most diverse ballet company color-wise in the world, Carlos Acosta was encouraged by his teacher to leave Cuba, citing the example of an exceedingly talented male dancer whose career was held back because he was dark-skinned. And men in ballet have it easier than women.
 

bladesofgorey

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You know what? I'm still amazed that in the 21st century, we are facing racism. So many educational programs, so many Hollywood movies that treat this topic. I don't understand why people are still discredited by color, race. Does God say that there is a superior race and there is an inferior one? You know, in a country as developed as Canada, discussions about racism still exist, and that's not normal. Likewise, there is political corruption in this country, which seems even more worrying. Have you ever heard about this guy https://calgaryherald.com/news/poli...rek-fildebrandt-wont-be-allowed-back-into-ucp ? Such news amaze me.
This has nothing to do with the topic at hand, new user with 3 posts unrelated to skating.
 

Japanfan

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If hearing a word like "Colorism" is upsetting, please consider how upsetting it is for Mae-Berenice Meite to be called a "Primate", and told she doesn't belong in the sport because she's "too Black". If you go to the comments under her Youtube videos, the overwhelming majority are polite; but there is a very vocal minority who criticize Mae for having strong African features.

Is this a competition between ethnic insults?


The purpose of bringing up Colorism was merely to explain how some Black skaters may face certain additional challenges on top of just being Black.

Whose purpose? Your purpose?

I've actually not heard the term 'colorism' before, but I have not read this whole thread and missed something?

I always thought that prejudice against people because of their skin color or ethnicity was just racism. Perhaps I'm just old-fashioned?
 

bladesofgorey

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Good Lord Japanfan. Colorism is a real issue. It's pretty straightforward: in the U.S. (and elsewhere). Lighter-skinned Black people are treated better, given more opportunities, experience less racism, and are portrayed more favorably in media than darker-skinned Black people. I honestly can't believe you are attacking a Black person for pointing this well-documented fact out.
 

Japanfan

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Good Lord Japanfan. Colorism is a real issue. It's pretty straightforward: in the U.S. (and elsewhere). Lighter-skinned Black people are treated better, given more opportunities, experience less racism, and are portrayed more favorably in media than darker-skinned Black people. I honestly can't believe you are attacking a Black person for pointing this well-documented fact out.
Point taken. I get it. Small brain fart, I guess. Same story was true for aboriginals (Rabbit Proof Fence, anyone?).

Case in point: actresses/actors with more Caucasian type features tend to have more success in Hollywood. I've most certainly noticed that.

Anyway, I get it, but guess I am more largely focused on racism itself. But TBH, as I said above, I've actually not heard the term used before. Probably have, but don't remember?
 

Orm Irian

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aboriginals (Rabbit Proof Fence, anyone?).
We don't use that word of human beings any more. It's considered rude and dehumanising - not to mention ungrammatical, given that it's an adjective and not a noun. Please say Aboriginal Australians, Torres Strait Islanders or First Nations Australians instead, or if you know a person's nation (e.g., Kaurna, Larrakia, Ngaragu, Dharawal) use that.
 

PeterG

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Good Lord Japanfan. Colorism is a real issue. It's pretty straightforward: in the U.S. (and elsewhere). Lighter-skinned Black people are treated better, given more opportunities, experience less racism, and are portrayed more favorably in media than darker-skinned Black people. I honestly can't believe you are attacking a Black person for pointing this well-documented fact out.

I see people asking questions to be someone who is doing so to grow and become better informed (rather than it bring an attack).

We don't use that word of human beings any more. It's considered rude and dehumanising - not to mention ungrammatical, given that it's an adjective and not a noun. Please say Aboriginal Australians, Torres Strait Islanders or First Nations Australians instead, or if you know a person's nation (e.g., Kaurna, Larrakia, Ngaragu, Dharawal) use that.

In Canada, within the last five years, we celebrated Aboriginal Day in regard to the Indigenous people here. This Government of Canada post from 2021 uses the term Aboriginal:


Some people may use the word aboriginal as a blanket term to be inclusive of all Indigenous people around the globe. Australia and other places you mention are not the only places to have aboriginal/indigenous people.
 

Vagabond

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I've actually not heard the term 'colorism' before, but I have not read this whole thread and missed something?

I always thought that prejudice against people because of their skin color or ethnicity was just racism. Perhaps I'm just old-fashioned?

It's not a new term. The first known usage is from 1964.


In 1965, Lyndon Johnson issued Executive Order 11246, which "continued and reinforced the requirement that federal contractors not discriminate in employment and take affirmative action to ensure equal opportunity based on race, color, religion, and national origin."

If Johnson had thought that racism and colorism were the same thing, he would have worded the Order differently.
 

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