Big Bag Training is a proudly values-driven organisation. This statement shares my position on racism and liberation as a white fitness professional, and explains the concrete actions that I commit to take and be held accountable to, on an ongoing basis.
Black lives matter. Racism is a poisonous and extensive system that stains our world. Racism hurts and kills Black people, brown people and other people of colour, and harms and holds back all of humanity.
An injury to one is an injury to all.
Big Bag Training stands firmly with those struggling to end racism and white supremacy as one of the most urgent priorities on our planet.
Racism is not only a massive injustice but a major health issue, and therefore of primary importance to the fitness and wellness industry. As a white fitness professional within a racist society, anti-racist education will form a central part of my Continuing Professional Development. This means not only consuming educational materials and discussing them with friends and family, but taking a lead from Black people and other people of colour to ensure that my work helps towards the goal of dismantling racism and inequality.
Anti-racism in fitness looks like understanding and talking about the social determinants of health. Our current economic, class and political system deliberately creates racist discrimination, division, insecurity and poverty. These play out on bodies of all kinds, through very real barriers to being active, and chronic diseases, both mental and physical. Racism intersects with other health-impacting forms of oppression on the grounds of class, sex, sexuality, gender expression, ability and age. The fitness industry prefers to focus on lifestyle and individual responsibility and this is wrong.
Anti-racism in fitness looks like understanding and talking about the racist history of the wellness industry and diet culture and its disturbing roots in eugenics (the twisted pursuit of genetic ‘purity’).
Anti-racism in fitness looks like examining the role that racism plays in our food system and supporting the movement for food sovereignty for all, recognising that 70% of the world’s people are small farmers.
One of the biggest features of systemic and structural racism is the racial wealth gap. As well as giving financial and practical solidarity to pro-Black causes, Big Bag Training will spend money in the Black-owned economy when possible, in recognition of the fact that otherwise the tendency is for wealth to circulate and accumulate in the bank accounts of powerful white-owned businesses.
But I can’t make a statement about racism without also discussing capitalism.
‘Capitalism requires inequality. Racism enshrines it.’ Ruth Wilson Gilmore
Big Bag Training believes in a world where people and communities’ needs and flourishing take priority at all times over profit and growth. A world without exploitation of the multi-racial working class – where companies and industries, and the wealth that they produce, are democratically owned and controlled by the people who make the work happen.
To live up to these values, I therefore also commit that Big Bag Training will actively support the blooming cooperative economy where possible, and explore how Big Bag Training as it evolves can become a part of that economy. Building a new world in the shell of the old.
This will mean sharing and giving up power, to create truly representative structures and resources. That’s exactly what’s needed by white professionals like myself as part of the struggle to end systemic and structural racism.
Illustration credit: Lisa Congdon