Story and photos by Azzah Ahmad
I would like to share a story I shared at the MEC Nation Summit.
I always wrote stories as a child, and even as an adult. When I look back at the stories I wrote, I noticed that the characters names were "Mike," "Karen," "Emma" and so on. I noticed that all the characters were white. It struck me that the world that I knew and that I would go on to create is a world of only white people. I now know that the reason is because I have, for the vast part, lived a life in a single story.
Sure, there were peeks of coloured people: on shows, in books, in schools, but it didn't matter. They were tokens. What I looked up to, what I romanticized, what I wanted to live as, was white.
This is the product of a world dominated by white marketing. It excludes any other colour, culture, way of life and when you are excluded you are invisible and when you are invisible you eventually forget who you are. Why would I want to be Azzah when it looks so much more appealing to be that blonde-haired blue-eyed fit woman in the advertisement? She looks so happy. So comfortable. So wanted.
I no longer want to be a Karen or an Emma. I want to be Azzah. Azzah, the woman galavanting across mountains. Azzah, the 41-year-old single mom lacing up her Keens to painfully trek her chubby 6-week-old around Lynn Valley. Azzah, the Muslim who isn't embarrassed to offer her prayers when she reaches a summit. I want to be included because I want to have my own story. I want future Azzah's to use my name in their story, not Karen or Emma. I want to be seen. We all do. The millions of diverse men and women who have been invisible in industries for far too long.
Thank you MEC, for your honesty and vulnerability. We look forward to seeing change.
Read the letter from MEC’s CEO: Do white people dominate the outdoors?