Friday, August 5, 2022
An Open Letter to American Curlers in re DEI
Hi, I’m Bobbie Todd. Besides being a curler, I am a retired lawyer, a NASCAR fan, a digital communications professional, and a Black woman. And I have just resigned from my role as chairperson of the USA Curling Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Task Force. Here’s why:
In 2020, I joined the DE&I task force in order to help shape and prepare USA Curling for the future. While this task force was largely founded in response to the events of George Floyd and racial unrest that occurred during the summer of 2020, it came together under the singular purpose of working to better USA Curling’s ability to reach people of all races, genders, colors, creeds, socioeconomic status, etc. In the simplest of terms, we wanted to help curling clubs to better reflect the local communities that they are in.
When it comes to DE&I work, it is easy to satisfy the performative aspects of this term by ensuring that the correct quantities of young people, women, and people of color (POC) are “included.” But true DE&I includes much more than quotas. USA Curling is a national governing body for the sport of curling. On the macro level, this means that USA Curling should seek inclusion from as many parts of the country as possible. Furthermore, as any human resources department will tell you, allowances must be made for people who may have a medical or other life-changing situation to deal with. My goal in working with the DE&I task force has always been to enable and empower as many people in the country who want to curl to do so regardless of any given characteristic a specific individual may or may not have. Simply put, I want curling clubs in America to reflect the demographics of the communities they are in.
When the news broke on July 22, 2022, regarding the USA Curling board planning to vote in support of kicking the Grand National Curling Club (GNCC) region out, I was stunned. For the past two years, I have been working on the DE&I committee to ensure that access to curling and outreach to local communities improved. I was proud of the progress we were making. However, this was short-lived as four days later, at their July 26, 2022 board meeting, the USA Curling board of directors approved the charter for the DE&I task force with the express mission of “work[ing] towards a more inclusive tomorrow by upholding the mission of the National Governing Body” (NGB). The mission of USA Curling is “to grow, strengthen, and advocate for the Olympic and Paralympic sport of Curling in the United States by prioritizing accessibility and programmatic development from grassroots to podium.” (Approved Charter, pg. 1). Yet at that same board meeting, voted unanimously to remove the GNCC region from USA Curling.
While there are a number of truths, lies, misunderstandings, rumors, etc. circulating about how this decision came to be, I feel that I must address the problem here on the nose. The USA Curling board of directors cannot in one vote seek to remove a large population of curlers (GNCC) that have struggled since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, and then in the next vote, seek to affirm DE&I. Basically, in one week, USA Curling has voted to remove around 30 percent of curlers from its ranks while simultaneously seeking to “expand curling.” This is unacceptable.
As a member of USA Curling, the GNCC, and my local curling club [Curling Club of Virginia (CCVA)] which has not collected nor paid dues as we have not been able to hold league since the COVID-19 pandemic began, I am one of the curlers that USA Curling no longer wants.
However, USA Curling will let my club become an “at-large” club in exchange for fealty and no further representation. Or we could join a curling region that is geographically separated from our club and likely would not have our best interests in mind. No matter which path is chosen, it is abundantly clear that USA Curling would rather fight to exclude a large portion of U.S. based curlers, instead of seeking inclusion and actually growing the curling community.
My goal when it came to curling DE&I has always been to have curling clubs reflect the communities they are in and expand the sport to reach as many people as possible. I personally do not believe that attempting to kick out the largest and arguably most diverse region in the country from the national governing body advances that goal. Do you?
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