Over the past year, our nation has been gripped in a discussion on racism. As skiers and snowboarders, how does that impact us in a sport that's not exactly known for its diversity? How inviting are we to minorities? How can we all help to change? What does it feel like as a Black skier or rider? And what contributions do Blacks make to the lifestyle of our sport?
This episode of Last Chair takes a look at skiing and snowboarding through the eyes and art of a Black snowboarder, Lamont Joseph White.
Growing up in New York City, Lamont became infatuated with skiing. He was mesmerized by lift tickets hanging on the jackets of his friends. But as a young Black boy in Queens, it just wasn't in his family's realm. He eventually made his way onto the slopes and has remained a lifelong snowboarder. Today, Lamont splits his time between his homes in Park City and the artist community of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
… you feel like people are wondering why you're there, like, what's your story?
His new collection, Skiing in Color, tells a vivid story of Black skiers and snowboarders - the colors, the styles, the clothing, the attitudes all reflect the presence of Black culture in the sport, seen through different eyes.
As a skier or snowboarder, this is an important episode of Last Chair to absorb. Lamont talks about inclusion and how it's viewed by Black skiers and riders. But he also speaks about what they bring - blending their own culture into the lifestyle into the sport we all love.
What captivated you when you first came to the Utah mountains?
Oh, gosh. The snow itself, the terrain, just the whole atmosphere. When you get out to these resorts that are so full of experienced skiers - it's just such a full ski and outdoor environment in places like Park City and other resorts in Utah. It's really a whole different experience. And it hooked me. It hooked me all the way. I just fell in love with the whole atmosphere - the people, the mountains and everything just became super exciting for me.
© 2020 Lamont Joseph White
As a Black snowboarder, how do you see inclusion?
What comes along with that are sort of these moments of implicit bias and moments where you feel like people are wondering why you're there, like, what's your story? A little bit like I'm sort of like a mysterious guy sometimes when I show up. It's a common experience for us to have those moments, which is why feeling included becomes important. Feeling that our presence is normalized becomes important for us and that we're represented. So I know that. And a lot of times it's not spoken because we just want to go skiing.
What do black skiers bring to the sport?
Every culture, when they show up into a space, they're going to bring some of whatever their culture is to that space. If you see me as a snowboarder who happens to be black, I'm fine with that. I don't mind if you see my color. And, by the way, we see color also. And I think that that's cool because there are things to learn from our differences, from our different cultures - whether it's food, whether it's music, whether it's style, whatever is in our lexicon. There are things to learn and enrich our lives by seeing those colors. I love the diversity and I love the representation. So let's all come together.
Lamont Joseph White's Skiing in Color limited edition collection is available in canvas and giclee prints.
Skiing in Color - By Lamont Joseph White
Tom Kelly: |00:00:00| Lamont, welcome to Last Chair, happy to have you join us.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:00:03| Thanks, Tom. It's great to be with you.
Tom Kelly: |00:00:06| I know you're splitting your time between Park City and your artist community down in Mexico, but how has the skiing been so far this year? I know you got out and made a few turns early season.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:00:18| I did. Oh, my gosh. I loved it. Got a chance to go to Snowbird and Brighton and didn't want to leave. Didn't want to leave. But, you know, that's the way it is sometimes.
"I realize that the numbers aren't very great. I believe they could be greater. But even if they aren't great, we want to feel that you're OK with us being there and that we're not looked at as a unicorn upon arrival on the slopes."
Tom Kelly: |00:00:31| I know it's still going to be here waiting for you. Don't worry about that. Tell us a little bit about the artist community that you're in down in Mexico.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:00:39| You know, actually, the artist community here was started by an American that - a guy named Sterling Dickinson came to this town, I mean, called San Miguel de Allende many years ago, I believe, back in the 40s, he started the San Miguel Art Institute. There are other art institutes here and just a ton of galleries and interior design, incredible hotels and restaurants. So it's a town of about somewhere between probably 135-145,000 people. So it's a small city. A lot of Americans here. And we've really been spending a lot of time down here for creative reasons as a painter. And my wife is a designer, a surface designer. And we just spent a lot of time down here creating and it's been nice, miss Utah, but it's been great.
Tom Kelly: |00:01:42| Yeah, it sounds like it really is a great spot. We're going to talk about your childhood and growing up in New York City in just a little bit. But I'm just curious, what was it that ultimately got you to Utah some years ago?
Lamont Joseph White: |00:01:55| Sure. Sure. Well, I met my wife in New York City and she had just come from the University of Utah. I actually, we ended up, you know, falling in love, getting married. But I never had any plans to come to Utah. I think from someone who has not been to Utah or even been out west to the mountains. We sort of look at Utah as very different from the New York metropolitan area, you know, a bit monolithic, and we're so used to, you know, New York City and, you know, it's got the best of everything and it's got a great variety of everything. It's got the worst of a lot of things as well. But it's New York, so you just take it. All right. So it wasn't until we had been married about ten years that we decided, hey, let's let's go to Utah, where she has some family in Utah. And so we'll stay with family and we'll visit southern Utah. So we went out for I think it was a week, 10 days. And in the latter part of our trip, we went up to Park City.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:03:09| And at the time, it was sort of fresh in my mind, a co-worker of mine was taking some buddies of his out to, I believe it's Mt. Brighton in Michigan. And he was taking them out there for little ski weekends during the wintertime, so once I had gotten I was on the base of Canyons that year. This is the year 2000. And it was actually in June. And I said to myself, I'm coming back here next year with friends because, you know, out east, I hadn't seen. I had been to Vermont. I've been to upstate New York and New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but I hadn't been to the ski resorts out west yet. So I just decided from that point I'm going to start coming out to Utah. And it started in 2001 and continued on through 2012, bringing other friends and other families. There were guys trips that were family trips. There are all kinds of trips that lasted for 12 years until we decided to move to Utah in 2012.
© 2020 Lamont Joseph White
Tom Kelly: |00:04:17| It's like a magnet, isn't it?
Lamont Joseph White: |00:04:19| For me, it really was. You know, for me it really was. And, you know, I've never looked back. It's just been wonderful. The people have been wonderful. And of course, you get some of the best skiing and snowboarding along the way. And then the summers are great as well. Right? I mean, it's just fantastic outdoor activities all year round.
Tom Kelly: |00:04:41| Well, I want to touch on your art and we're going to talk about it in some detail as we get further through our conversation here. But just to touch on the show that you held in December, you know, it's tough this time of year with COVID to do a show. Yet you did a two week show with your work, skiing and color at Christian Center Park City. How did that show go and how was your work received?
Lamont Joseph White: |00:05:06| To me, it went you know, I didn't really know what to expect. And like you said with COVID, there was some hesitancy. There was a point where I was going to actually pull back and not do the show because it took a lot of effort of of sending the pieces from Mexico up, up, up to Utah. And some of it I carried by hand, but some of it had to ship. And then with covid going on and knowing whether we even have much of a turnout, and then, of course, the dangers or or cautions you'd have to take because of covid, we were very hesitant and that fluctuated. And it wasn't until I realized I had a couple of interviews to do with Park Record and Park City TV that I thought, you know what, I'm just going to go for it. It seems like the ball's rolling at this point. So it was received, I have to say, I didn't know what to expect like I said, but it received better than I could have expected from all walks of life. I was really honored to get the reaction that I did from all types of people because obviously, my work has a focus on and I know we'll get into this a bit more later, but to focus on black skiers and black people in the outdoors. But it got a lot of great attention from, you know, new friends that I've made and from some media, like I mentioned before, in Salt Lake and in Park City as well. So I'm thrilled by it, actually.
Tom Kelly: |00:06:52| Well, I know the community was really pleased to see it. You had great coverage in the local media on it.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:06:58| One of the things with an artist, of course, is that an artist tells stories. And in this case, you're telling a lot of your story growing up as a young boy in New York City who saw skiing.
Tom Kelly: |00:07:10| We've had some great conversations on that. But go back in time to your childhood in New York City. How did you find skiing and what was your introduction to the sport like?
Lamont Joseph White: |00:07:23| Well, you know, I was born in New York City and my parents came from sort of. They grew up post-depression kids and, you know, they're hard-working, they ended up accomplishing the first sibling to go to college but they grew up not with the sense that they'd ever get to a mountain and put something on their feet and slide down snow. Right. It just wasn't ever anything that crossed their minds. I've been growing up in Baltimore and Brooklyn, respectively. And just sort of having the culture and the environment that it just never crossed their path, so they ended up, you know, we lived in, born in Manhattan, I was raised in Queens so I was about five, then we moved to central New Jersey. So we moved to a real suburban area there, great community. And as I grew up, I started seeing some people in my high school who were going skiing on the weekend. And I just loved athletics. I loved sports. But that wasn't something that was ever discussed skiing in my household. It was just like going to Saturn when people would come back. And I see the little lift tickets stuck to their jackets, you know, and I thought, like, what is that you and it's like, I want to check that out. And at one point when we were camping in the Poconos in Pennsylvania one night, we stopped by where there's some nice game going on at a mountain called Shawnee in the Poconos. And I remember there was I think there was a brief discussion as to whether or not we would try skiing if I was 13 at the time. And long story short, and we even saw a family from our neighborhood there, it's about an hour and a half from us and long story short, we did not go skiing. I remember just feeling disappointed, like how many of that thought I was going to get on skis just to see what it was like. And so that was the closest I ever got to getting on the mountain until years later was after college. I was in my twenties. And so friends of mine who actually lived there in central Jersey had started to ski in Pennsylvania, upstate New York and northern New Jersey. And one night. They said, hey, you want to go out one night and I said, sure, I want to check it out. So I went and rented some skis at Mountain Creek in northern New Jersey. It's our largest ski mountain in New Jersey and you put some skis on and my friend just told me just we mentioned the pizza french fries thing, but he's like, whatever you do, just commit, you know, and that's something I never forgot. And it was ice, it was northern New Jersey in January. And I got through it and bounced around a little bit and just thought, man, this is I love it, let's keep doing it. So that started me going and. And that lasted probably about seven or eight years before I went to Utah.
Tom Kelly: |00:10:39| When you were a young boy and you had that almost introduction to the sport, how old were you then?
Lamont Joseph White: |00:10:47| I was about 13.
Tom Kelly: |00:10:48| So it was almost another 10 years before you got back, got into the sport for the first time, correct?
Lamont Joseph White: |00:10:55| Correct.
Tom Kelly: |00:10:56| So you started skiing in New Jersey. And by the way, Mountain Creek is a great place to ski or ride, but it was a big difference when you came out to the mountains.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:11:06| Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Big, big difference in many ways, you know. Oh, gosh. And how many ways? Just the snow itself, the terrain, just the whole atmosphere. You know, when you get out to these resorts and that are. So full of experienced skiers, and it's just such a full ski and outdoor environment in places like Park City, Utah and other resorts in Utah, it's really a whole different experience. And so it hooked me. It hooked me all the way. I just fell in love with the whole atmosphere of the whole environment. The people, the mountains and everything just became super exciting for me. And, you know, I thought I told you I made it a point to just keep. Coming back every year and bringing more and more people, we'd get up to four or five families coming out at some points and then they got hooked as well. And to this day, they still come out, you know, and they'll still either stay with us and we'll stay at a local hotel, but they still come out to this day.
Tom Kelly: |00:12:23| Well, that's the beauty of skiing, is it truly is a lifetime sport, isn't it?
Lamont Joseph White: |00:12:28| For sure. For sure. Yeah. And I think, you know, when we talk, like I said, a little bit more about my work, but I think in using this subject of of skiing, I'm not just doing it for the sake of here's a skier, but also I'm trying to express, you know, some of the joys you experience and the moods and the the the solitude, but also the exhilaration. And when I say solitude, I mean sort of the solace in the peace that you have on the mountain, as well as the exhilaration and all these different things you go through and you just take a deep breath and you're looking out at the vistas on top of the mountain. These types of things, I feel. Really led to them becoming a lifetime sport and something that you do want to share with other people and bring them out to the mountain with you and share with people who haven't given it a shot yet as well.
Tom Kelly: |00:13:27| You know, those of us who have been in the sport for some years, we know that skiing is not a very diverse sport for you, growing up as a young black boy in New York City and eventually finding your way once you're in your 20s into the sport. Was that any kind of an obstacle for you, either overtly or maybe not so overtly?
Lamont Joseph White: |00:13:52| Definitely not overtly in my experience. I think, again, living in the New York metropolitan area, we're quite accustomed to diversity by and large. And, you know, biases happen everywhere. But I think as you navigate life in the New York metropolitan areas, particularly for someone like myself who as a, you know, really diverse group of friends and family, it's not something that. I don't remember even really thinking about it until later on that there wasn't a great bit of diversity, so that began to be something that I pondered more and more as time went on in my experience.
Tom Kelly: |00:14:44| And what were some of you as you pondered that, what were some of your takeaways? Are there thoughts that you had that you could help to perhaps be an ambassador for the sport that you'd grown to love?
Lamont Joseph White: |00:14:57| You know, this these types of thoughts just sort of coming along for me, I guess, and living in Utah and living in the mountain environment and living in these wonderful places that I found lack diversity more than, you know, they lack diversity that I was accustomed to, which is normal. And I get that. But what comes along with that are sort of these moments of implicit bias and moments where you feel like people are wondering why you're there, like, what's your story? A little bit like I'm sort of like a mysterious guy sometimes when I show up. And for me, none of these things quite dawned on me until I see it reflected back to me. And just having the awareness of being a person of color and being a black person that I know it's a common experience for us to have those moments, which is why feeling included becomes important for us, which is why feeling that our presence is normalized becomes important for us and that we're represented. So I know that. And a lot of times it's not spoken because we just want to go see in this instance, we just want to go skiing. We just want to go to that restaurant or we just want to be in that board meeting, you know, for the joy of skiing, you know, because we've earned that place, wherever that place might be or we have the right to that place. And so we just I know that it's something that we just it's commonplace for us to look for the, you know, understanding that it's OK that that that we're there once we realize like, I don't think they really expected me to show up, you know, but it's become something we don't bring up all the time. So I simply want to harp on all the time because it gets exhausting, you know? So for me, this particular collection scheme and color it, I had been always painting and drawing black subjects, you know, for a long time, going back to college in high school. But when I had had some opportunities to do illustrations of skier's, you know. Thinking as they come out of a commercial design experience in my career, I had not thought about really putting black people in ski gear to bring it to a souvenir shop or to or to make a poster. And I never thought about bringing it to those places that they would buy it, because I know that it's not something they feel is the norm or it's not something they feel might sell.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:18:23| And I put all those things to the side because I thought it was important, if I'm going to help normalize it, if I might express a normalization of black people on the mountain. I'm going to have to paint black people on the mountain, so that's that's what I did. And they are exclusively black when I go into the galleries and various ski towns. It's not something I see represented. And when I go to the resorts and the hotels in these towns, it's not something I see represented. But we do spend dollars at these resorts. We do that. We are out there. I've heard it said that black people don't ski. And I look at my garage and I see skiers and snowboarders in there and I realize that the numbers aren't very great. I believe they could be greater. But even if they aren't great, we want to feel that you're OK with us being there and that we're not looked at as a unicorn arrival on the slopes.
Tom Kelly: |00:19:33| Well, the collection that you have created is remarkable. It's remarkable not just for it being black people on skis, but just for the emotion that you represent in your characters. I want to learn more about Color of Skiing, how it originated, what your inspiration was. But we're going to take a short break. We're with Lamonte Joseph White talking about his exhibit Color in Skiing. And we'll be right back to Last Chair.
Tom Kelly: |00:20:14| And we're back now with Lamont Joseph White. Lamont, thanks again for joining us today. It is an amazing exhibit and I know this is an audio podcast, so you'll have to use your imagination if you're a listener. But you can also go to Utah dot com and we will have these posted in the blog article with the podcast. What was your inspiration to do? Skiing and color?
© 2020 Lamont Joseph White
Lamont Joseph White: |00:20:40| There was a certain point really about a year ago, January of last year, where because, you know, I have been painting and drawing black subjects throughout my life, I decided to because of my own experience being a black snowboarder who lives and owns a home in Park City and happens to be an artist. I am reflecting a lot of who I am. And in my experiences in the work, you know, the joy of skiing, but also the determination of representation as a minority in places that we aren't necessarily expected or seen very often and the dynamics that come along with those things. So, you know, I just went full stop into. I remember mentioning to my wife about a year ago that I just want to paint black skiers because it hits close to home. And quite frankly, it was a real raw thought that came out of my own experiences and environments. But I realized that there was a lot more to learn from speaking to other black skiers and snowboarders who had been on the mountain for years, who are at a much greater level than skiing and snowboarding than I am. And to hear what their stories are from being on race teams or just being avid skiers and snowboarders or backcountry skiers and snowboarders to hear the experiences and environments that they've been in, that's really been informing my work. You know, as I move forward, forward with the series, so that's where really where I am right now as the series is continuing to develop.
Tom Kelly: |00:22:47| Was there anyone that you showed this concept to early on that looked at it and really gave you that motivation to continue someone who really understood what you were doing with this show?
Lamont Joseph White: |00:23:04| Oh, that's an interesting question. I had just been pretty much keeping it to myself for the first few months because I did realize that I was determined to do things the way I wanted to do them. I wanted a very everyday normal representation of everyday people, black people, skiing and snowboarding environments. And by the time I thought, well, hey, let me see if I can present this in my hometown of Park City, because I've done a lot of the development to this point. Here, my studio in Mexico. I actually reached out to Rob Harter, the Christian Center, and he immediately said, this is a great idea and if you know Rob at all, he's a great guy and he's very involved in inequality and equity and just bringing everybody along. And he's just a super guy. And at one point I had heard Rob discuss during a panel discussion he was on with the mayor and some other people in the community when he was asked. This was after George Floyd. Murder and the protests were happening. I mean, I was peeking in on some conversations happening in Park City for my studio here, and Rob was asked, you know, Rob, what do you want to do? What do you think you can do to help? And Rob just said, listen. And, at that point, because obviously our minds were so focused in on all types of stuff going on in our country right. With the protests and I want to go through, I won't go through all of it. But you know what? All of it. All of it was. But Rob sat back and said, you know, I just want to listen, so that told me that here's an ally who is open to learning, who's not going to take any of these preconceived thoughts that he may or may not have. But if he sees people who feel like, OK, now they haven't. They look like they have an open door now to get people's attention, to say that they are hurting for some reason, you know, because in this case, because of the color of their skin during their lifetime, that he wants to listen. He cares enough to listen, not just to lean back on, hey, we're all equal or, you know, civil rights era is over with or whatever it is. But to say, hey, wait a second, these people are still feeling some pains in their lives and they have some stories to tell. So I would say Rob is probably, you know, other than some other friends who I had been discussing the collection with along the way, Rob really opened the door to furthering the discussion or really opened up the discussion in Utah and by way of Utah in the states for me. And so I'm really still in the early stages of this. This is really only about six or seven weeks old at this point. And. Yeah, but it's been wonderful and I've been thrilled.
Tom Kelly: |00:26:47| The collection is amazing. And Lamont, I'd like you to walk through a few of the pieces and I'll let you pick which ones you want to start with. And again, for listeners, I know you can't physically see it here, but you can go to Ski Utah dot com and take a closer look. So walk us through a few of the pieces and tell us the inspiration that you had behind each.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:27:10| Sure, I think perhaps a couple of the ones that you might have as you list this podcast. One is a little girl with these Afro puffs in her hair called Color Coordinated. And I do use some of the title of the pieces as references to race and color and those dynamics, you know, that mean that we deal with. In our society, I don't believe in people being colorblind or not being color, not seeing color, because, you know, I grew up in a way where. I had so much color and variety in my life that I always saw it all. And for me, it was. If it was different for me, I embrace it and want to know more and more about it. And that's an experience I think we're a state of mind that I find can be lacking in certain environments, so color-coordinated is just a little girl with the simple joy and excitement of being in a place where she's about to hit the mountain. She's about to go skiing, possibly for the first time, and she's just super giddy about it. So it's a real sort of innocence and a happy place that she's in.
Tom Kelly: |00:28:40| This is my favorite. You're starting with the one that really caught my eye a few months back. And it is just the joy on her face. And you think of every little kid that's had that opportunity to slide on snow. It's just embodied in her smile and in her eyes. It just really captures that joy.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:29:04| Thanks so much. And I mean, that's that's what I was going for before I even painted the piece. I was like, I need a little girl just thrilled to ski. You know, I just really need that because part of the vision is that, you know, we get some younger people of color on the mountain that they know that they're welcome and that they know that they're seeing represented well.
Tom Kelly: |00:29:31| This is a really good one. So I'll let you continue the tour.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:29:36| Sure, I think Pledge. Pledge is another one coming from the perspective of being a black American. This guy in Pledge with the American flag, he's superimposed over an American flag in the background. Just being a proud American, knowing America is continually evolving and in making corrections and figuring stuff out, I come from a black American experience. And so it's a bit of a statement to who I am as an artist and the experiences that I've had come from that perspective. And also the perspective of I want to be at least a small part of moving the needle forward to, you know, that we're endowed by our creator and have equal rights and so forth. So I just through my work, I'm hoping to be a small part of that commentary at sea. Other than that, I'm not sure if you have a picture of Squad Up and we may take the girl from color-coordinated and flash forward 20 years. And here she is, maybe with her friend walking along the mountain. There's you know, there is certainly a determination in some of the pieces. This would be one of them, you know, sort of like, I'm here, I belong here. I want to be here. And I think that gets reflected in the pieces. It is part of the experience where, you know, one of the things I say and my recent piece is actually called Show Up to be represented.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:31:27| You've got to show up. Right. And when you do show up. What is that experience like? What is the experience like? And I think there is a determination that comes along with that because. It may be built into our experience that, hey, there's not many of us here and kind of feels good to see another black person here, it's not constantly on our mind. We don't go to a ski resort looking for black people, you know what I mean? We go to ski. But if we do seem to want to see another black person would be like, OK, that's good to know. OK, good to know it just because of the experiences in our lives, those are the types of things that the only thing but those are the types of things that give us a little bit of comfort, of belonging, of inclusion, of representation, to know that we see ourselves. In those places, just like if we see ourselves represented in society, in positions of influence or in careers or in places of esteem, it's important that we as people or even more so kids see those people so they can aspire.
Tom Kelly: |00:32:52| Squad, to me was another fascinating one Lamont. I liked your thought that maybe that's going to be that little girl in 15 or 20 years. But you have two beautiful young women. They are both black, but they both look quite different with their hairdo and with their outfits. One has ski's and one has a snowboard and they are determined they are going out to have a good time and they're going up on that mountain. And it's that look of determination that they're going up to tackle some new goals up on the mountain. But I love that one.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:33:30| Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, it's interesting. You know, I think there are some aspirational parallels to skiing, right, and being on the mountain, and this is another thing that I love about it. There's sort of some philosophies like I even went up on the mountain and I'm approaching technique and things like that. There's some for life philosophies that actually go through my mind. And of course, the terrain you're on and being in the mountains, you know, is aspirational. And do you do see that in the determination of where they are, but I kind of feel like there's that illustration of the mountain top. You know, Martin Luther King spoke about the mountaintop in his last speech, which didn't dawn on me till, oh, my gosh, I was so far along in this collection. But I thought, wow, that's really a nice sort of partnership with my series to know that he said that he used the mountaintop. To speak about a destination.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:34:47| In his mind, for freedom, for equality, for belonging, you know. And once you get there, you have arrived. And I didn't realize that, other than in my own personal experience of hitting the mountain and feeling great and enjoying it, wanted to share it. But he used the mountaintop as an illustration in his last speech literally the day before he was shot. And he said, I've been to the mountaintop and I may not get there with you, that I've looked over, you know. And I thought, that's really profound. I'm so glad to be painting in this subject matter and using skiing not only as a tool, but as a metaphor for a goal, a destination and something that's positive, whatever that goal may be in my mind. So it's really turned into a real metaphoric thing for me, which has been a real drive for me just to make this a continuing series.
Tom Kelly: |00:36:04| I know that all of us, as skiers and snowboarders, we feel that on the mountaintop. It's why we love this sport. It is as you said, it is freedom. It is being out there on our own and doing what we want to do and enjoying the outdoor air and the exhilaration of going down the slope. It really is a special freedom to be on that mountain.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:36:25| It really is. It really is. Yeah. And it's thrilling. It's thrilling. One of my goals is to not just familiarize those who are not black or people of color to I mean, my intention is having all black people in skis to sort of flip the dynamic that I may feel or I show up in a space where there are no blacks at all, but for you to walk into a gallery space or room. And just see all black people in ski, ski, ski attire and on the mountain, et cetera. And yeah, I just wanted to have those people sort of have the experience that we as minorities have, you know, just to think about it a little bit more. And then also for black people, those who are on the mountain already or could potentially be on the mountain for them to see themselves represented. I was really thrilled to have some members of the National Brotherhood of Skier's give me some positive, positive feedback early on when I first opened up the collection to the public. To see the remarks and the love they had for the work just, oh my gosh, it was thrilling for me because it showed a thirst on their part for representation. It showed a thirst on their part. And these are avid decades-long skiers, but it showed a thirst on their part for. To feel included, and that's one of the things that I learned, you know, and showing and showing the artwork outside of, you know, my inner circle. So that was really awesome.
Tom Kelly: |00:38:30| I know that in the last year and you started this before George Floyd, you started this months before that. But as a result of incidents in the last year, the world is seeing again the challenges that we face with racism. I do personally feel that in this past year, many of us and I'll say, myself included, we've probably thought harder about it now than we have in the past. And I know that this is probably a bit of an unusual or strange question, but I know that I ask myself, what more should I do to be inviting? And I don't know if there's really an answer to that, Lamont, but as I look at your art, I. I sense a different feeling. And I like to think that I, as a lifelong skier, am inviting to others regardless of race. But I don't know the question here, but maybe you have some council or some words coming out of the work that you've done as an artist that can help to guide all of us.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:39:39| Oh, I appreciate that, Tom. I also agree that there has been an increased sensitivity and like I mentioned earlier, a willingness to listen, I think it takes a certain amount of guts, humility, to really even stop and think and check oneself and say, hey, you know, I definitely don't consider myself to be bigoted or anything like that. But maybe there's times where I have made someone feel like it's not normal for you to be in this room or in this space or on this mountain or whatever it is. And sometimes we just want to just walk in a room and not be reminded, you know, that we look different from the majority of people around. We just want to, we just want to be just like you, you know, we just want to feel like we can just get together with whoever, wherever, whatever, and we won't be asked. Hey, because there's been times where I've been asked where I'm from and I'm like, I live in Jeremey Ranch, you know, it's like where were you visiting from? And like, you know, I live here. And there are assumptions that are made along the way. And there's been many, many circumstances where I know that my skin color has triggered thoughts with people. And even though we are the few.
© 2020 Lamont Joseph White
Lamont Joseph White: |00:41:09| I don't think we necessarily want to feel like we're the few, we just want to live. We just want to do whatever we want to do. We want to enjoy whatever we want to enjoy and not just be constantly, constantly reminded of it. So I think listening to the questions, just like you've done, you know, is very important. And I think to those who. Because I've also heard, you know, they don't see or experience any racism in their life and they've got some black friends, you know, and I would just recommend some of those people. To maybe take him out to lunch one day and just surprise him with, hey, you know what, like we have a great relationship. I'm a white guy, you're black guys or whatever the case may be. But is there anything that you've experienced in your life where you felt bigotry, where you felt racism? Is there anything that I should know I could understand you better and I recommend that because. Like I said earlier, it's not something we want to bring up all the time. We just want to have a laugh. We want to have a beer. We want to get on the mountain. We want to just, you know, live and be happy just like everybody else.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:42:29| So I think there's some people in your life, if they are in your life, that would appreciate that question coming from a different position that they're in. I think that's really where it's at. It's sort of like to ask, like you're asking, what am I missing, Lamont. You know, what are the things that I'm missing? What else can I do better? What should I be aware of? And that's why Skiing in Color for me is a conversation where, you know, I'm not coming at it from a position where I have all the answers. I want to be part of the conversation. I want to be able to give answers where I can, but also learn, you know, I'm super eager to learn from all sides these different dynamics because race does matter, which just happens to matter in the race dynamic that we're born into in the world, but specifically in this country. It just does matter. And the color of skin matters. A lot of people, they don't like to say it, but it does, you know, and we want to get into the nitty-gritty of all of that. But it happens to be an issue. It's what we do with it. To me, that's very important.
Tom Kelly: |00:43:51| Lamont, I think my takeaway on this, and I've thought about this over the last year or so, is you want to be recognized as a skier or a snowboarder, not as a black skier or a black snowboarder. It's just the common acceptance that you have this bond that we all have as skiers and snowboarders about that freedom on the mountain and getting outdoors and experience the speed and exhilaration. That's the acceptance.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:44:17| It is. It is. And I think that, you know, every culture, right, is going to bring ... When they show up into a space, they're going to bring some of whatever their culture is to that space. So. If you see me as or describe me as a snowboarder who happens to be black, I'm fine with that. I'm fine with that. I don't mind, again, if you see my color and because, by the way, we see we see color also. We see, you know, white people also. We all see one another's color. And I think that that's cool because I think there's things to learn from our from our differences, from our different cultures, whether it's food, whether it's music, whether it's style, whether it's, you know, whatever is in our lexicon, there are things to learn and enrich our lives by seeing those colors. So I'm fine with being described that way for the goal of enrichment. You know, you know, I love the diversity and I love the representation. So let's all come together. But I just would say, I think the way that seeing color is approached, as long as it's embraced, as long as it's looked at as a positive, it's never going to be a problem that people will not. I think, be more inquisitive, be more listening, and that's all we just want we just want to feel like we are normalized in whatever space that we're in.
Tom Kelly: |00:47:46| Lamont Joseph White, the artist. The collection is called Skiing in Color. You can get a link to it at Ski Utah dot com. Thank you so much, Lamont, for sharing. We're going to now move on to a little closing section that I call Fresh Tracks, which we do with each of our guests here on Last Chair. And are you ready to go? A few little hopefully simple questions for you.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:48:10| Let's give it a shot. Sure.
Tom Kelly: |00:48:11| Ok, I'll keep it really simple. And keeping it in the winter sport vein to start with your favorite Utah ski run.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:48:21| Favorite run, favorite run. I really love - I'm going to go to Park City - I love what's called Fool's Paradise. I come down off of the Dreamscape or Daybreak Lift and I drop off a run there into this group of aspens that are just gorgeous. I mean, you could see them from the road far out when you're driving by on two twenty four, and especially when there's some fresh powder out there. I love, I love that area.
Tom Kelly: |00:48:51| Fool's Paradise. I have to say, I have not heard of that run before. So it's up in the dreamscape area.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:48:58| Yep. Yep. You're coming down off of there. We usually drop off that trail. I am thinking of the name of that trail right there. You drop off, drop off on the right and it's really a bit of a bowl. I don't know if you'd specifically call it a bowl, but yeah, it's just a bunch of aspens right there. It's just so much fun to go through there.
Tom Kelly: |00:49:22| I think I know what it is and I just never knew the name. One of those problems of being a local when you don't remember all the run names, I'm like that.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:49:28| So I fear I fear that question because I was like, I don't remember the names of these runs, but yeah.
Tom Kelly: |00:49:35| Quick get a trail map.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:49:37| Exactly. Exactly.
Tom Kelly: |00:49:39| So let's go back to your childhood. Did you have a hero growing up? Oh, my gosh, that I have a hero.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:49:48| You know, it's funny because I really looked up to. Sports heroes happen to be for a period of time, they're a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, so they were really winning a lot and so were my formative years. So the guy who really comes to mind was Franco Harris, a running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers. You know, and I guess we all look up to. To someone who's had some achievement in their life, and he was that guy from me because I was a diehard Steelers fan was like. You know, black and gold everywhere was like draped all over me for several years there as a kid, so I'm just going to go ahead and say, Franco Harris, that's a really good choice.
Tom Kelly: |00:50:39| By the way, are you still a Steelers fan?
Lamont Joseph White: |00:50:41| I'm a Giants fan. You know, having ended up in after growing up in central Jersey, after being born in New York, but ended up in central Jersey and went back to New York for college and raised my kids in the New York metropolitan area. And I really became a hardcore Giants fan, which is a which is a tough thing to be. But I am a New York Giants fan now. And yeah, we have two Super Bowl rings this century, though, so it's not bad.
Tom Kelly: |00:51:18| That's not too bad. OK, let's go to your favorite outdoor activity or any outdoor activity that you enjoy outside of skiing.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:51:27| Oh, gosh, you know, I love the peace and tranquility of it, I like a good hike, you know, and we know the trail system in Park City is. I mean, it's just the best, so I'm just getting out there, my wife and I like to go on Sunday hikes. Just getting out there and being in nature and, you know, feel that feeling of becoming one with nature on a hike is just tremendous, just tremendous. So I love a good hike.
Tom Kelly: |00:52:00| Yeah, it really is your favorite Utah craft beer.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:52:06| I'm going to go with the Park City Brewery, their American pale ale. I love that. I don't I don't like to go to Super Hoppy. Yeah, I'm going to go with that American pale ale. Great body. Great flavor.
Tom Kelly: |00:52:19| Lamont, do you have a favorite high West whiskey?
Lamont Joseph White: |00:52:23| I like their double rye. I like their double rye a lot. I've done the flights there a couple of times and I always come back to the double rides is super smooth and that's the one. So, I mean, I've gone even out on some business trips to New York and found that out there and. You brought it for my friends who I stay within Manhattan, and, yeah, that's that's sort of a constant favorite when we're going to have a whiskey, so that's good, good stuff.
Tom Kelly: |00:52:58| You know, I do like the Double Rye, but I have to say my favorite is Campfire.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:53:04| Why don't I know you're going to say that? OK, that's a good one, too. But that's the usual. I loved it. Yeah, no. Is he going to say Campfire? You said so. That's funny.
Tom Kelly: |00:53:18| Lamont. Last question. Groomers, moguls, glades or powder. What's your perfect day?
Lamont Joseph White: |00:53:27| I'm probably going to go with groomers. And I know I mentioned the powder in the trees earlier, but I like a great long run, like, you know, like Upper Harmony in Canyons. Just to take that nice long run, because I just like to ride, you know, just have a beautiful long ride on the board. And that's where I get that nice combination of exhilaration and in peace, sort of like it's a nice synergy of those two emotions.
Tom Kelly: |00:53:59| Lamont Joseph White, thank you so much for joining us, talking about skiing and color. Look forward to seeing you up on the Hill.
Lamont Joseph White: |00:54:06| Awesome. Thanks so much time. I super appreciate it.