REI Presents: Brothers of Climbing

REI Presents: Brothers of Climbing

I feel like, in the black community, there’s like this misconception, oh, black people don’t do that. Only white people do this. And they have every right to believe that, because, you know, their
outlet to the world is what you see on the
TV and on the Internet, and if you don’t see any black people or any people of color climbing, you’re not gonna think you can do it. Yeah, nice. I was curious. I was like, are there any black climbers? So I literally typed are
there black climbers in Google and I came across this
forums and someone said black people don’t climb. I grew up in Queens. I went to elementary school
five minutes from here. Out here there’s no rock climbing gym, there’s no mountains, there’s
nothing out here like that. Like, my idea of the outdoors
is the backyard, you know? (siren wails) grew up in Harlem. You can’t just go to, like, Riverbank and find a climbing wall there. Know what I mean, like, my
dad wasn’t into climbing, my mom wasn’t into climbing,
my family wasn’t into climbing. No one knew that that was like a sport. This was like one of the sports
that I got into by myself and I kind of found by myself. I think I was like the
only Dominican there. I think I’m still like the
only Dominican doing this. (subway clacking) I’ve had kids, black kids
say, oh we don’t do this, yeah, we don’t do this. And then that made me like,
damn, this kid is saying that what else could he think he
can’t do just because he’s black or he has not seen another
black person do that. I love climbing so everybody
that knows me they’re like you climb now, I’m like why
don’t you come and find out? – When I first came to
the gym back in 2009 there was maybe one other black guy. Any time you saw someone
else was black, like, we made it a thing to
say hey, what’s going on? I remember when Pete first came. You know, we kinda
like just saw each other and then slowly moved
towards each other, like hey, he looks like me and
not that I was like feeling out of place, I’m sort of used
to being the only black guy in everywhere, but. I really wanted to see more black people in the gym right? I just thought, like climbing,
could benefit from it. I went by myself, I
climbed for a couple hours. I didn’t know anybody there. I was in an area of Brooklyn
that I’ve never to before and I think I just watched this
group of guys just killin it and I just gravitated toward that. Saul, he looked like he wanted a crew to just climb with. I was like, yeah, like I
can learn something here. Then we said,
okay we have to come together. This is gonna be the crew
that takes over climbing. The crew was actually
a mix of both, I guess, us and a lot of other Asian people. At first, it was
like blacks are climbing and then it was Asians are climbing. I don’t know who made it up. I think someone said brothers of climbing which kinda made more sense at the time and then people would just shout it out. Like, they’d see us and
be like B-O-C B-O-C. I think it’s just the
energy the group brings, just helps me climb better because they’re the ones that
first brought me outside. You know, they’re the ones
that taught me a lot of things, they push me a lot. Come on, stick with it. Yeah, one over. Look at this guy crimpin’. (laughs) Crimps are my favorite. Who taught you how to do that? Like it came to a point
where we were actually hanging out outside of the gym. You know, we would go,
you know, go get some food and then, I don’t know when
it hit us, we were like, let’s all go to Chattanooga
and let’s just do a trip. That would be so much fun. I definitely have,
like, gone places where you feel like, maybe
we should not be here. If you’re traveling in
a car with other people and they all happen to
be black or whatever, like you do put yourself
in a certain, you know, and outside of that, like,
just experiencing, like, standing around and like
cops driving past two times and then they’ll stop and be
like what are you doing here. You know, we tried to buy a
guide book, talked to the lady for like 10 minutes, and she was like so what do you need it for. I was just like, we’re going climbing! Like why do you think
we were talking to you for the last 10 minutes? Like, and her face was like
what you’re going rock climbing? Swing it up, bump it up. Got it. Alright, pull the feet
up, got the undercling. Got it. Got it? Got it. Alright, keep it going. Okay. Like, just
goes back to, you know, not being exposed to the
outdoors, right, and that the problem is we’re telling
ourselves that we can’t do it and on the other end, there’s
no one telling us we can do it so it’s a problem on
both sides of that coin and we have to attack it from both sides. It is up to us for us to, you know, make that representation,
show people there are black people in climbing. That’s what we’re trying to
do now, is kinda show people that, hey, you can, you can do this. As you climb up try and work
your feet up a little bit until you feel comfortable. Yeah Katie. Come on, come on. Just bring it,
bring it to the top, man, we got you, we got you down here. There was a woman in
California who was looking for a group forever and she
found our Instagram. She was like, there’s a black
climbing group somewhere like, she was looking, you know, so, someone out there is looking
and they might be the only one. So BOC’s mission
is to increase involvement of minorities in the outdoors. Right now we’re starting with climbing but I want to see more of us participating in outdoor activities because
if more of us are out there then it would just be
more of a common thing. I don’t think I would be where I am without them.

67 thoughts on “REI Presents: Brothers of Climbing”

  • wow, so now we are back to the old days… dividing people into skin-colour-specific-groups. Well done, well done. I dont care whether black people climb or dont, because I dont even want to think about the skin colour. There are lots of people who do not climb. And many of them are black. But that "many of them are black" does not add any valuable information. Thumbs down.

  • JohnnyGification says:

    Thanks REI. Now I know black people climb too. Wait, every color climbs! I don't give a crap who climbs as long as I climb. Please give me back my 7 minutes.

  • Awesome video! It's nice to see minority groups come together and build a new community that has never existed before. As Americans, we should be encouraging these types of groups.

  • Dang, there's a lot of hate on this video right now! I think it's really cool, they're going out there and trying to get people involved in outdoor sports, and that's awesome.

  • Great piece. I watch a lot of outdoor videos (too many) and it was great to see one with more "story" to it. Credit to the production team here and success to BOC.

  • I always think it's the coolest thing ever when people get involved in the outdoors for the first time! Took my coworker, an immigrant from Ethiopia, on his first hike this summer and I could not believe the smile on his face. Keep crushing guys, you're inspiring!

  • Dude, if BOC is for increasing more minorities in the outdoors, how can we not love that? The way we are going to protect our outdoor spaces is by getting ALL peoples to value that! I always thought it would be great to see more black people climbing and I am excited to see you all when I get out there! What's up!

  • That's an awesome thing you guys have going there 👍 I never thought of that, but it's true: you don't see many black people climbing. And why is that so? I think it's very encouraging watching you leaving your comfort zone. You have my biggest respect for that and if some of you guys ever come to Munich or the Alps, just let me know and I will show you some good spots to boulder/climb 😎 Regards, Alex

  • the afro comunity will take over climbing, and its going to be awesome , we may see some really crazy sends in the future , thats been my theory for years, cheers brothers !!!!

  • i never even thought that black people were excluded from climbing, i just saw people climbing i dont think ive ever payed any attention to climbers colour

  • Sa'ad Kamal-deen says:

    I love this video sooo…. much #PREACH!!! Brothers. I just started climbing, hiking, and the whole shebang. I am from Nigeria originally, life in the UK but currently work in China. I relate so much with BOC its crazy!!! I was actually looking to start a hipster (not really just super chilled, dirty bags/wayfarers) climbing society in Nigeria to connect people back to nature and value it more instead of being scared of it. Ooh i just had to say this "I am a Nigerian prince", Jk or am i :-p .

  • Tawnee Conklin says:

    This is awesome! Love seeing people of all different walks of life getting outdoors! Breaking barriers!! Keep it up!

  • Nicolas Falacci says:


    I started climbing in 1986. In NYC. There was one black guy in the city that climbed … Dennis Walker. And there was one black guy up in the Gunks who climbed … a fantastic climber … Mike Freeman. I started the first climbing club in NY and we thought we could expand the demographics of the climbing community because we were in the city and we helped the Parks & Rec dept. with some programs for kids.

    Obviously there's nothing inherently racial in nature about climbing. It's a basic human activity. It's just a matter of being exposed to the sport. When I bouldered around in Manhattan I would often attract the attention of kids. Kids are naturally attracted to climbing. We felt it was really only a matter of time before enough black people were exposed to climbing that they would become involved and the diversity would increase. It's cool to see that finally happening.

    A bouldering crew of brothers in the Gunks!

  • This is inspiring. Representation is important & inspiring. Those who take offense in this video & its advocacy miss the point.

  • LOVE this. Nice to see someone shining a spotlight on a very under represented group. More like this please!!! Anyone offended by this inspiring story is an idiot….period.

  • Very cool ! Love to see the climbing community getting larger! Y'all need to come out to Kentucky! The Red River Gorge Rocks!!! God bless

  • This is awesome. One of the coolest collaborations of black and asian communities. We need more of this around the country.

  • Many things are social economics related. When I watch my daughter play soccer its primarily a white sport, why is that, to play on the club teams its very expensive. i got into climbing back in 74 with the help of the AMC club, they charged me a one dollar a day for lesson, I could have never afforded to climb in a climbing gym back in the day. The same thing goes for many sports, skiing, hockey, lacrosse, on and on. I love the outdoors and have watched many of the REI video's but to be honest most of them feature white people that have been raised with a lot of money and privilege. Climb on, by the way the Gonks are just up the road from you. Take care

  • I stopped the video at ten seconds. The first words out of his mouth are what divides us today. Just climb, just hike, just get out and do it. No one cares about your skin color.

  • Ever heard about Black Swedish Rock Climbers before?
    Well I can tell you for certain that there is at least one Brother of Climber over here in Sweden, and I found this video was totally inspiring, and I really do relate to what the climbers in the film are talking about. Much love …

  • Same with brown ppl. I am only Indian climbing in our Big Rock climbing gym and people give me weird look like I dont belong here.

  • Great video and your mission of increasing access to the outdoors for minorities is laudable and long overdue. I hope you succeed!

  • Hi, I'm some random dude on the internet. And I approve this message!

    I hope this is still around, I want to participate. Here in NC we have meetups and rock climbing gyms. I've been meaning to go so I can prep for the outdoor climbs. Sorry about that Tennessee experience, smh. It gets weird sometimes, Im not surprised

  • This is the same after i hiked the Appalachian Trail. There are so few blacks out in the outdoors and its great to see its changing. Rock on!!🤘🤘🤘🤘

  • crescian medston says:

    Free solo and this got a nigga feeling like doing some dumb shit. Bout to start training to climb up the faces on stone mountain. Stop tryna inspire me bruh

  • Hi. I use to say black ppl don't do that. But to myself surprise there are some who do climb mountain's. Grear to hear. Okay what about going into tight caves. Exploring them. Are any blacks doing that

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