The Treasure Island Sailing Center (TISC) was founded to increase accessibility and equity in the sport of sailing. We believed that creating opportunities would help change the course of a child’s life, whether by learning new skills in a new environment or choosing to excel in a sport that provides life-changing opportunities that extend beyond sailing such as college admittance, first jobs and careers. We thought that opportunity would, in time, close the race gap that exists in our sport. However, recent events have provided the stark realization that providing opportunity will never be enough to adequately address the systemic racial inequity in either our society or our sport.
It has been 20 years since TISC began and yet we still do not see the changes in our sport or society that we envisioned. As we come to grips with the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, we realize that we must do more. We have failed to listen, to understand, and to stand with our community of color to proactively dismantle racism in our sport. We can and will do better.
Therefore, we are pausing to reflect on how we can be more vocal leaders and instruments for change at and beyond our organization. Some concrete actions that are underway include:
• Providing additional funding to support black and brown teens to return as Junior Instructors and inspirational examples for younger children; our staff should reflect the diversity of our children
• Incorporating curricular lessons on diversity, empathy, implicit bias and racial equity, so that all of our children, white, black and brown, understand their responsibility for social justice and racial equity
• Connecting with black and brown sailors around the world who can be role models for our children so they see people like them thriving in our sport
• Creating a Diversity & Inclusion Committee to discuss ways that we can educate our community and empower our children of color on and off the water
• Extending the influence of TISC to support facilitators and remove barriers for sailors of color when participating with other sailing groups (e.g., yacht clubs, high school/ college sailing teams, fleets) and events such as regattas and clinics
Our actions need to extend beyond our own organization; therefore, we ask our long-time friends, peers, constituents and extended sailing community to join us. For too long, we have all compartmentalized social and racial inequities in sailing by making diversity and access the primary responsibility of community sailing centers. Yet, social and racial equity will not come without intentional responses by the entire sailing community. Children of color will only get so far in a society that provides asymmetric challenges, barriers and threats to safety because of their skin color. We want our sport to reckon with the part that we are playing in this.
So, we ask the entire sailing community to also take this time to reflect and determine how each of us can use our individual and collective privilege to dismantle the racial inequity in sailing and in our day-to-day world. As Venus Williams recently stated, “Just as sexism is not only a ‘women’s issue,’ racism is not only a ‘black issue.'”
Our privilege comes with the power to empower others in meaningful ways to bring about change. Doing anything less is being silent, complacent and contributing to the systemic racial inequities that have been the Achilles heel of our society and our sport.
We reject silence.
We embrace a better future.
Members of the Treasure Island Sailing Center Board of Directors, Community Sailing Programs (CSP)
Committee, Facility for Advanced Sailing & Technology (FAST) Committee & Staff
Board of Directors
Carisa Harris Adamson, William Hoehler, Paul Heineken, Bill Kreysler, Douglas Smith, CSP & FAST Committees, Meredith Muller Brody, Chris Churchill, Melinda Erkelens, JJ Fetter, Dave Guinther, Pamela Healy, Ted Huang, Rolf Kaiser, Kimball Livingston, Katie Pettibone, Adam Spiegel, Leandro Spina
Leadership Staff & Instructors
Travis Lund, Laura DeFelice, Cazzie Cutting, Chris Davis, Alex Francois, Joshua Leihe, Dinah Luomanen, Miles Raneri, Hana Kim Rupnow, Luxine Smith, Ry Ulmer-Strack, Riley Timken, Raphael Weiner, Matt Bernard