We Hear Your Silence
Martial Arts houses a very diverse group of practitioners that range from countries around the world and all walks of life. Hopefully, the mats that you lead look more like the world we live in rather than a homogenized view of the majority. It is important that in times such as those faced today and, in the future, the people of color that frequent your training academy see and hear your support out in the open.
Silence in moments of crisis can be deafening. As the United States struggles with the cancer that is racism, it is up to you to show the people of color in your community that you hear their cries and support them. Even if they are not crying out overtly, there is a very high probability they have faced some form of racism at some point in their life. Gym leaders and practitioners need to use this moment to show the people of color that share the mats with them how much they care and are here to fight for their humanity with their own blood, sweat and tears.
The martial arts community has become susceptible to loud voices propagating narratives that create divisiveness. Those voices use terms such as “beta male” or “social justice warrior” in an effort to quell any idea that potentially shines a light on the danger brewing within their words and actions. You see and interact with these voices across social media platforms or welcome them into your gyms to host seminars. Watch how they are acting in times such as these and what they are saying. Then question whether or not your support of those individuals should continue. Question how such support impacts the marginalized people who attend your academy.
This is not a “political issue,” fighting systemic racism is a human rights issue. At the end of the day, if you are truly about improving the community around you, then standing up and pushing back against racism is just as important as the techniques taught on the mats every single day. Talk to the people of color that are your students, instructors and those that live within your community. Now’s a time where they need your help more than ever and they need it on the front lines of this battle that rages in the US right this moment.