Coalition Snow Ambassador Latasha Dunston grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore without any inkling about snowboarding, let along the outdoors industry. With a Coalition board strapped to her feet she’s now changing the narrative for her community of People of Color (POC) to get in the mountains as well.
Name: Latasha Dunston
Gear: Queen Bee Snowboard
In the suburbs of Baltimore there are no rivers to run, rocks to climb, or snowy mountains to ski down. Communities, especially those of color, are generally not exposed or given accessibility to these mountain activities. With a refreshing take on snowboarding, Coalition Snow Ambassador Latasha Dunston is slowly changing that narrative one post at a time.
Latasha received her degree with a double major in pre-med and illustration in order to become a professional science and medical illustration. After deciding to use her art background in a way that other people can enjoy she moved to Denver, Colorado where she was exposed to the outdoor community and industry she never knew existed. With a Coalition board strapped to her secondhand boots, Latasha learned how to snowboard just this past winter and fell in love with the sport and community.
How did you become involved with Jen and Coalition Snow?
When I moved to Denver I I stumbled upon Outdoor Retailer, which introduced me to this entire outdoor industry. I went to OR last year in January as just a regular citizen and then I realized you can’t just go inside. So I lurked around the outside and came across these panels that were being put on across from the convention center and sat there, listened and observed for four days.
Between listening to all these people talk I met quite a few different people, including Jen. She was recording a live podcast of Juicy Bits and taking audience questions. I asked a question...guess it was a good question...because Jen talked to me afterwards and we exchanged information.
She was talking to someone else about snowboarding and I was standing next to them eavesdropping. I said that I had never been on a snowy mountain and I want to try it. Jen replied that if I’m being serious, then this is a perspective that she would really love to have. She sent me a board and I bought the rest of the gear secondhand, because this sport is really expensive. In February she invited me to Mammoth to go on a snowboarding trip with a bunch of other Coalition ladies. That was my chance to go for it and it was a freggin’ blast.
What is your perspective on snowboarding now?
I thought it was so fun! I’ve never done any type of boarded sport before, so there was a little bit of a learning curve when it came to how to use your body. Being out there with the other Coalition girls was so helpful.
This is an interesting story to how you became an ambassador.
People generally don’t have ambassadors that are completely new to a sport. This sport is extremely in-accessible, at least in my opinion, for someone who did not grow up near snowy mountains or in winter sports. If there’s only thing I learned in my life it’s all about who you know, especially in the outdoor industry and for outdoor sports. You really do need to have that gateway person to be there and open that pathway for you. It’s been really beautiful to watch how the snowboarding community has rallied around me to help me do this as someone who is completely new and doesn’t know what they’re doing.
The fact that I met Jen when I did is awesome - she is the person that opened that door for me a little bit with a snowboard. It’s been cool to tell people this story and inspire people to try something new - especially something that’s kinda qualified as an extreme sport. I’m someone who doesn’t do extreme sports!
It’s helped inspire more people in my community to find ways they can get out there. I’ve been really transparent with my audience about the help I’ve gotten. When I posted it on instagram I got such great feedback from people who all wanted to try it now.
Who are you inspiring?
The type of demographic that I normally talk to about this are other people of color and other young people - under 25. They’ve messaged me and felt like they too had a foot in the door because they saw me snowboarding and became interested in it as well.
That’s really cool - skiing and snowboarding definitely lacks diversity.
I actually went out to Mammoth around the same time the film Brotherhood of Ski came out. I watched it and it made me more stoked to get out there. It’s centered around black people skiing and snowboarding and the history behind it.
I’m from Baltimore city so a lot of family and friends back there were extremely pumped to see me doing something like this. When you grow up in very urban areas the outdoors is not the type of imagery that you see. If you’re walking around Baltimore City you’re not going to see a billboard of a black person skiing!
It’s almost like the phrase black twitter versus white twitter. It’s essentially like that with every app, your content when you scroll is essentially the community you surround yourself with. I felt awesome being able to be that person on my cousin’s and sister’s feed when they’re scrolling and see people at the club, see people in music videos, see people holding five of their babies and then they see me snowboarding and they’re like WOAH. It’s different than what they’d normally see.
Do you think it’s beneficial for companies to have ambassadors of color?
Yes...I had never heard of snowshoeing my whole entire life until I moved to Denver. I did a post about it and got so many questions from friends and family because they had never seen anything like that before! You can have all the ambassadors you want but if your ambassadors aren’t diverse and don’t have the means to reach people beyond themselves then are you really doing anyone any good?