Skaters worldwide unite to promote diversity in figure skating

Sylvia

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I’ve started this thread to combine 2 earlier threads (re. Joel Savary & Asher Hill; click on their names to view their respective threads) so that any pertinent news & discussion can be consolidated into this thread, starting with a recap of recent events by IFS:
Excerpts:
Following the murder of George Floyd, Baldé, Mariyah Gerber, a professional figure skater, and American coach Michelle Hong started the Diversity and Inclusion Alliance, a movement that aims to make figure skating a more diverse and inclusive sport. The goal is to find resources not just for black and brown communities, but also for other under-represented minorities to encourage and enable them to get into sports such as figure skating.
[Vanessa James] also noted that the Diversity and Inclusion Alliance has received positive feedback from both Skate Canada and U.S. Figure Skating. “The USFS sent out an email stating it was going to put together a group to help, support, discover and increase diversity in the sport. So that is a big step … for U.S. Figure Skating to actually have a body of people trying to make an impact in this area is very nice to hear, especially within just a short time after the start of this movement.”
Figure Skating Diversity & Inclusion Alliance: https://www.instagram.com/figureskatingdia
 
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Sylvia

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Good Morning America Digital's video interview with Starr Andrews after her recent "Black Like Me" performance, filmed by On Ice Perspectives' Jordan Cowan (ETA new link):

Posted in the U.S. Ladies thread last month:
Jordan Cowan's 4K video of Starr Andrews' performance to "Black Like Me" by Mickey Guyton [with Starr's own intro] is embedded in this article:
 
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B.Cooper

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U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and Athletes’ Advisory Council Convene TEAM USA Council on Racial and Social Justice

Announced yesterday:

From the announcement:

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee, Athletes’ Advisory Council, National Governing Bodies and the U.S. Olympians & Paralympians Association today convened the 44 members comprising the Team USA Council on Racial and Social Justice. The athlete-led council, formed to address the rules and systems in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movements that create barriers to progress, is committed to working collaboratively to provide solutions and recommendations with the aim of eradicating social injustice and cultivating change through strengthened athlete voices.

.....

The product of athlete town halls, individual athlete discussions and ongoing meetings with outside experts about systemic racial and social injustice present in our country, the council will create pathways for dialogue, advocate for action and work toward implementing impactful change across the movements. The group will focus on four priorities:

  • The right to protest and demonstrations, to assess current policies and alternate options.
  • Athlete voice and advocacy, to empower athlete voices on Team USA platforms.
  • Institutional awareness and cultural change, to review USOPC and NGB diversity and hiring policies.
  • Racism and acts of discrimination, to enhance reporting and dispute resolution processes.
.....

The 44-member council consists of 23 Team USA athletes, five Team USA alumni representatives, five NGB representatives, five USOPC liaisons and six external consultants and thought leaders – all serving in voluntary roles. Thirty-six individuals will sit on one of four subject-specific steering committees dedicated to addressing four areas of focus. Overseeing each of the four steering committees will be an eight-member leadership team, with the assistance of a distinguished team of outside experts. The council is currently supported by an additional group of community ambassadors featuring 26 Team USA athletes, alumni and USOPC and NGB/HPMO representatives, but with the ability to expand as interest grows.

Figure skaters involved in the council:

Steering Committee: Institutional Awareness and Cultural Change
Rachael Flatt

Community Ambassadors
Alex and Maia Shibutani
 

AxelAnnie

Like a small boat on the ocean...
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U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and Athletes’ Advisory Council Convene TEAM USA Council on Racial and Social Justice

Announced yesterday:

From the announcement:



Figure skaters involved in the council:

Steering Committee: Institutional Awareness and Cultural Change
Rachael Flatt

Community Ambassadors
Alex and Maia Shibutani
I will be interested in seeing their plans and benchmarks of success.
 

Sylvia

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Elladj Baldé's 2-minute performance to "No Justice No Peace" by Marquez “Soulay” Alexander: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CGF6bmhJsYx/

No Justice. No Peace. ✊🏽

People have been asking how I’m feeling. I wanted to express it in the best way I know how.

African. Russian. Immigrant. Black Male. Figure Skater. Every time I step on to the ice I am a living breathing protest to a society as well as a sport that thrives on oppression and elitism.

I am fueled by my mother and father who sacrificed everything in order to give me this life and this freedom knowing that many don’t have this same privilege.

I am fueled by responsibility for the young BIPOC figure skaters of tomorrow who will see a Black man on the ice and feel welcome in this sport.

I recently co founded the Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance so that I can start making change within my figure skating community where it is greatly needed. Any donations are warmly welcomed [link added]: https://www.gofundme.com/f/fjajdg-figure-skating-diversity-and-inclusion-alliance

Let’s change figure skating culture.
 

Sylvia

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Skate Canada attempting to make program more inclusive through systemic changes (Oct. 2, 2020): https://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/...skate-canada-updates-safety-program-1.5746831
Excerpts:
"I think one of the biggest things for me and for us is seeing an independent body that recognizes systemic racism," said Elladj Baldé, a former national figure skater and co-founder of the Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance. "Because those are the things that the BIPOC community feels, but that a lot of people that are in the system, working in organizations don't necessarily feel.
"So for us to see that be recognized is a huge step forwards."
The FSDIA has created an international community and highlights Black skaters, pushes for policy change and is creating an education program that organizations like Skate Canada and its skaters will hopefully use.
"Education is one of the single most important things to happen in order for real change to actually happen," he said. "There's this grip that figure skating has on what it's supposed to look like and feel like.
"When that grip kind of loosens up that's when we'll see more Black people and indigenous skaters and people of colour actually stay in the sport."
 

Sylvia

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The video was filmed in Southern California a couple of months ago: https://www.instagram.com/p/CEvFyRFjMrw/

This GFM was launched last month:

Related news thread started earlier today: https://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/th...ent-on-equity-diversity-and-inclusion.107721/
 

Sylvia

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USFS' Skater Spotlight article on Michelle Hong:
Excerpts:
"For me, it was all about giving back and creating an opportunity and a resource bank where there’s lack of,” she said. “Skating is something that is really difficult to get into. A lot of people feel like there’s a barrier to enter. … For me, it’s all about making sure people around the world feel they can have the opportunity to skate.”
Four and a half years later, the 27-year-old has made major headway in making the sport accessible to a global audience, having amassed nearly half a million followers. In addition to the website, Hong also has a growing presence on Instagram (47.6K followers) and YouTube (26.2K subscribers), plus a rapidly growing TikTok account (353.6K followers) she launched earlier this year that has already been verified by the platform. She said only 31 percent of her followers are in the U.S., while the rest range from Mexico to Indonesia.
Hong exudes authenticity in every aspect of her life, which is why she dedicates so much of her time to bettering the sport and the experiences of those in it through important programs like U.S. Figure Skating’s Aspire, U.S. Figure Skating’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, and the Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance.
...
"My Cambodian heritage is so near and dear to my heart, and it’s something that you wouldn’t guess when you first see me,” she said. “People never guess my parents are from Cambodia and they survived a genocide in which 2 million of their own people were killed. My parents came here with nothing but that strife they had, that wit they had to be able to provide for our family, and it’s crazy that I ended up in figure skating coming from a country that knows nothing about it.”
:respec:
 

DreamSkates

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Elladj Baldé's 2-minute performance to "No Justice No Peace" by Marquez “Soulay” Alexander: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CGF6bmhJsYx/

No Justice. No Peace. ✊🏽

People have been asking how I’m feeling. I wanted to express it in the best way I know how.

African. Russian. Immigrant. Black Male. Figure Skater. Every time I step on to the ice I am a living breathing protest to a society as well as a sport that thrives on oppression and elitism.

I am fueled by my mother and father who sacrificed everything in order to give me this life and this freedom knowing that many don’t have this same privilege.

I am fueled by responsibility for the young BIPOC figure skaters of tomorrow who will see a Black man on the ice and feel welcome in this sport.

I recently co founded the Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance so that I can start making change within my figure skating community where it is greatly needed. Any donations are warmly welcomed [link added]: https://www.gofundme.com/f/fjajdg-figure-skating-diversity-and-inclusion-alliance

Let’s change figure skating culture.
And I hope, you have felt the welcome and acceptance of the figure skating community.
 

Sylvia

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THAT FIGURE SKATING SHOW (Dec. 2, 2020)
"Over the summer, Asher and Dylan helped found the Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance. Other athletes like Vanessa James, Maé-Bérénice Méité and Elladj Balde are members as well. See what the group has been doing to make figure skating a safer place." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCiA6Ca6V_k
 

Sylvia

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Kaitlyn Weaver is Skate Ontario's December Skater in Residence:
Excerpts:
This summer, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and fight for racial equality around the world, the Skate Canada Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Working Group was formed. I remember sending the e-mail confirmation that I would accept a position in the group, but I was confused. I didn’t know how I would be able to contribute, but I was alight with motivation to help create change. I quickly learned that I can, and it was my responsibility in this community to do so. Together, we committee members are hard at work to create a safer, more inclusive space for athletes in our sport across Canada. I’ll be honest, it took time for us to even identify where the starting point was, where each of us sat in our overt or unintentional systemic racism, and how to direct ourselves to any solution (enter: Dr. Tina Chen, a teacher, a role model, a literal gift from God) This work isn’t easy for anyone, but the opportunity to listen, learn, and become the change that our sport needs is life-changing and necessary.
These two huge experiences changed me, and my role in skating evolved again — from athlete, to activist— and to my surprise, it’s only gaining momentum. This is what I’m learning this year, and I hope that all of the athletes in Canada come to understand it, too. You have a voice, you have power, and you have impact. Our job as athletes or role models in sport doesn’t end on the ice, and it shouldn’t.
 

Sylvia

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From Skate Canada today:
Recognizing the need to have open dialogues about race, to listen to the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC), and to keep our community engaged, Skate Canada is pleased to announce the first Talking About Race in Skating Panel on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 7pm ET. This virtual panel will be available for all community members to watch and will be recorded for later viewing.

The virtual panel will feature BIPOC voices in skating discussing why talking about race will strengthen our community.
...
During the premiere of the panel, the YouTube Q&A chat function will be available for viewers to join the conversation and representatives from Skate Canada’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group will be available to respond to written questions and comments.
Panelists (read more about them in the press release linked below):
Uzoma Asagwara
Elladj Baldé
Patrick Chan
Vanessa James
Andrea Satar
Megan Wing
 
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Sylvia

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Diversify Ice Foundation's Mental Health & Mentorship Event for skaters FREE EVENT on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 7:30 PM Eastern / 4:30 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada): https://www.instagram.com/p/CJmDJn1nJBz/

Let's get ready and focused to start our training year off right with our Mental health and mentorship virtual event for skaters. Diversify Ice partnership with Onyx Therapy Group will have lead clinical therapist focusing on key areas for skaters:
-Stress Management
-Navigating challenging situations
-Thriving in the face of adversity

**This event is geared to support skaters of all backgrounds and levels. We encourage all skaters, particularly skaters of color and those that are underrepresented, to register for this complimentary free event!

Direct link to register: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0odOqorDsqGNfcryeGHtXCXFPNw2zND9D6
 

Sylvia

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The Figure Skating Diversity & Inclusion Alliance will launch their first mentorship program this year called "Big Skater Little Skater" (details to come): https://www.instagram.com/p/CJhWevoLRcj/

Just a reminder that Skate Canada's TALKING ABOUT RACE IN SKATING PANEL event is scheduled to happen on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 7pm ET:
Panelists (read more about them in the press release linked below):
Uzoma Asagwara
Elladj Baldé
Patrick Chan
Vanessa James
Andrea Satar
Megan Wing
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group:

ETA that Skate Canada's Dailymotion channel has been showing conversation excerpts between Vanessa James and Kaitlyn Weaver (2 members of the EDI working group) on this topic during today's livestream of Challenge.
 
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Sylvia

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:respec: Elladj for using his newfound social media fame/platform to talk about FSDIA and other issues he cares about:
As Black athletes continue to break discriminatory boundaries put in place by an exclusionary system, Baldé has made it his mission to dismantle the status quo and make room for young BIPOC seeking to make a name for themselves as athletes. "One of my main missions in the last few years has been to really change the way people perceive skating, that it's not one direction," he said. "It's not this one mold that we have to fit in. You can actually be different, look different, do different things, and be extremely successful at it, and that's kind of where my purpose lies in everything that I do."
Taking this goal a step further, Baldé cofounded the Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance, a nonprofit organization committed to combating racial inequality in the figure-skating world by addressing the racial wealth gap and racial bias prevalent in the sport. In doing so, Baldé and the members of the FSDIA hope to make figure skating more accessible for the BIPOC community. "We want to help them through mentorship programs and doing events and scholarships and helping them with equipment, helping them with their finances, whatever it is," he said. "We want to make the sport more diverse, more inclusive, and work with big federations and national sport organizations like US Figure Skating and Skate Canada and be part of changing certain policies that are not helpful, potentially, to a specific community."
Elladj's viral videos thread: https://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/th...-passion-for-skating-in-viral-video-s.107898/
 

Sylvia

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Sylvia

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USFS' Skater Spotlight article by Sarah Brannen on the Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance (FSDIA), published on March 3:

New on Figure Skating Diversity & Inclusion Alliance's YT channel in the last month are Conversations in Color discussions. Co-Hosts Acacia and Asher Hill "are joined by the highly melanated and excellent Vanessa James, Maé Bérénice Méité, and Elladj Baldé" - Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QII3mhSQrpA
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2ZCh8xyVOw
Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4N3JIZgphw

FSDIA's Friday Community Meetings: Trauma, Race, and Skating with India Johnson (March 3): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42QAAD7-8tA

USFS' Skater Spotlight article by Jillian L. Martinez on Eliot Halverson who is transgender non-binary (she/her):
“I identify as trans because the sex I was assigned at birth does not match my gender,” Halverson explained. “My gender is non-binary. For me, that is a fluid mix of being a man and woman. [Nonetheless,] I feel safe, happy and comfortable presenting as female. That is why my pronouns are she/her.”
Since gaining attention for being a trans non-binary skater, Halverson has welcomed the pressure that has come with being an advocate and educator on LGBTQ issues, a role model for young skaters and an example of how gender norms can be broken in a very gendered sport.
“I’ve experienced what it is like to be three separate categories of people who are not liberated in the sport,” Halverson said.
She recognizes learning about identities outside of the social construct can be complicated and confusing. However, she said she hopes people will turn their confusion into empathy.
Halverson still skates beautifully and coaches at Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers in NYC:
https://www.instagram.com/p/CKoxr4snSOu/

Diversity on Ice! Skating Show at Bryant Park (NYC) Hosted by American Ice Theatre + Miki's Ice Events: https://www.mikisiceevents.com/ice-shows
Date: Friday, March 12th 3:15pm-4:20pm (Rain date: Friday, March 19th 3:15pm-4:20pm)
Location: Winter Village at Bryant Park in New York City (Between 5th-6th Ave/40th-42nd St, New York, NY 10018)
One of the featured skaters is 2021 U.S. Junior Men's pewter medalist Jacob Sanchez, who was mentioned at the end of last month's Rohene Ward article on USFS' Fan Zone: https://usfigureskatingfanzone.com/...skating-the-tapestry-that-is-rohene-ward.aspx
Ward was transfixed as he stood near the practice ice boards as the 13-year-old from Montgomery, New York, skated his short program to Kenny Loggins' "Footloose."
"He looks just like me when I was his age," Ward [whose mother is Puerto Rican] thought.
Ward was blown away by Sanchez's raw talent and believes the young Latino skater has the potential to be a force in the sport. When he ran into Sanchez and his coach, Oleg Makarov, Ward unleashed compliment after compliment.
Sanchez went on to win the short program and earn the junior men's pewter medal.
When he was a young competitor, Ward used to plead to the universe that minority skaters would one day get the spotlight they deserve.
 
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mjb52

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Thought this was a good article in The NY Times: https://outline.com/Tu7dDU - the point about the judges was a good one. I think a younger generation of judges more influenced by the way the internet spreads ideas and culture will help, but I wonder if there is a way to create more of a pipeline to encourage POC skaters to be interested in judging or tech panels as their competitive careers wind down. I don't know much about how people get into judging, it seems like it's not very well-paid so that may limit who is interested in it?
 

MacMadame

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I don't know much about how people get into judging, it seems like it's not very well-paid so that may limit who is interested in it?
It's not paid at all. It's a volunteer position though you can sometimes get some expenses reembursed.

In the US there is a fast track for former competitive skaters and they are actively recruited.
 

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