Black At CrossFit: A Collection Of Voices From The Black Community

June 30, 2020 by
Photo Credit: The CrossFit Games (games.crossfit.com)
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Talk to anyone within the community, and it’s clear that CrossFit as a health and fitness methodology and sport has tremendous potential to do great things. Things well beyond the scope of what has been accomplished already in its first 20 years. However, it would be neglectful at best to ignore some of the areas where the community has fallen short of being inclusive and supportive of all members from all walks of life. Identifying and acknowledging those shortcomings is the first step in creating a better path forward.

Black at CrossFit is an Instagram account that was created in the wake of the massive public outcry over social justice issues affecting the Black community — including comments from CrossFit founder Greg Glassman — and it works to anonymously highlight the voices and experiences of black members of the CrossFit community.

  • The account’s stated purpose: “to amplify Black athletes, affiliate owners, judges and coaches voices without exposing anyone to racial microaggressions. I don’t want to put anyone in the position where they have to defend that racism exists or where we center whiteness at the cost of toning out real lived experiences of Black people. It is also not the purpose of this account to “cancel” anyone. By canceling people and organizations, they are not held accountable”

The posted testimonials run the gamut and include abhorrent instances of racism and prejudice, positive praise of inclusive communities, as well as personal anecdotes of isolation and seclusion due to the uncomfortable racial homogeneity within the walls of their affiliate. Included in the page are testimonials from non-BIPOC members of the community sharing observed issues and instances as well from their point of view.

  • “On my first Fourth of July at the gym, a white girl made a comment on how she wished Black people would get over slavery because when her Italian grandfather came to the country he was treated poorly too and they got over it. I wanted to hit her, but just picked up my stuff and left the gym.”
  • To begin, I feel completely comfortable in my home gym and everyone feels like family to me. However, I always feel 1000x better whenever another Black member walks in the gym and is in class with me. I love everyone in the gym, but the relief that I’m not the only one is insurmountable.”
  • My life was almost ruined when an owner failed to check facts. I was accused of stalking one of the female members at the gym. We dated for about a month but felt that people would view her negatively for being in an interracial relationship. I chose to avoid her after that even if it meant leaving the gym mid-workout. When she noticed I had changed, she began to send me the craziest text messages and DM’s and spread lies about me to anyone who would listen. This went on for weeks, I never said a word. Then one day as I’m training alone, the owner asks me to leave because “he should involve law enforcement but if I leave quietly it won’t be a problem.” He informed me my membership was canceled and when I finally got a chance to talk I showed him all the messages. He didn’t really apologize but said I could stay. He was also white. I left and silently celebrated when his gym closed due to lack of membership.”

If reading these accounts is tough, then good. It should be tough to hear about people who want nothing more than to feel welcomed into the CrossFit community we enjoy but instead had their pursuit of health and wellness as well as their gym — a place of safety and reprieve for many — tarnished by ignorance and bigotry.

A lot has changed within the CrossFit community in the past few weeks, including some crucial steps in positive directions. But in order for CrossFit and it’s network of 14,000+ gyms to truly reach its potential, it is important to continue to highlight these issues, and elevate the voices of those mistreated, so we can learn from our mistakes and act with a fuller understanding of the needs of everyone.

  • We need to continue to shed the honest stories about what it is to be black in the fitness space and realize those stories are not positive because they are real. Choosing to be positive in all situations is a privilege.”

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