I stole the title of this blog post from a now defunct website: forgingelitesarcsasm.com. It was the blog of one of the original CrossFit trolls: Drywall. While most of his posts made fun of the stupid shit HQ did, one of his very last posts in 2011 was an interview with CF Games athlete Elizabeth Akinwale titled “Talking About Race Because No One Else Wants To.” In it, Drywall points out what hopefully many of you have realized: CrossFit is predominantly practiced by white athletes. Or rather, membership at CrossFit affiliates is predominantly white.
Drywall and the trolls of the day would often joke about why this is the case. “It’s because black athletes are actually playing real sports, rather than getting good at exercise.” Or, “Rich Froning is not the fittest man on earth; he’s the fittest white male under 6 feet tall with disposable income.” He has a point. CrossFit is a premium service, and we charge a premium price. Affiliate membership is typically limited to people with disposable income, which, statistically speaking, is most likely to be white people. This is a big part of what “white privilege” entails.
White privilege – I hated the term when I first heard it. I felt that in some way, it was trying to minimize the hard work I have put into everything I do; to say that I did not deserve it, and that it was handed to me. I think this is a common reaction to the term. Anger and fear are emotions that often arise from a lack of understanding. As someone who has completed anger management therapy (and my first tattoo was the Mandarin character for “anger”), you may trust me on this. As I came to understand the term, it bothered me less, and now I can accept it.
Recent events have highlighted white privilege. The black community was and is disproportionately affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. People have thrown statistics around for years regarding police brutality and the black community. The Amy Cooper incident shone a light on it, and the murder of George Floyd highlighted once again the general lack of accountability amongst police departments. To call it 3rd degree murder (1st degree manslaughter), requiring negligence on the part of the offending officer, is an insult to George and to the law enforcement profession. A knee on the neck is NOT part of ANY Arrest and Control program, ANYWHERE.
Now, CrossFit Relentless has many ties to law enforcement. Coach Gary Boivin is a detective, and many of our former coaches over the years are police officers. CrossFit Thin Blue Line in Manchester was founded by former CFR member, Detective Rob Magao. Rob is also an instructor of the only standard Arrest and Control tactics program accepted in CT: L.O.C.K.U.P. (Law Officers Combat Kinetics Unarmed Panoply). For years, I trained to fight with Rob and the founder of LOCKUP, Lt. Kevin Dillon. Hell, my father is still on their website giving his statement of medical soundness for the program.
We can support Black Lives Matter and still support our local police and the good officers out there. Inclusion and support of one group does not automatically come at the expense of another. We can call for systemic change without condemning the many, good officers out there. In a time when we all need to come together, we are frequently surrounded and bombarded with divisive messaging that asserts the opposite. The fact that officers have enabled peaceful protests here in CT, and taken part in others across the nation shows that it’s possible. And yet, in other parts of the country, violence still abounds. This will not change without collective effort from all of us, and it starts locally.
As for where we stand: CrossFit Relentless is, first and foremost a community. We are also part of the larger communities of West Hartford, and CT. We have a diverse member base from many backgrounds, and we will not tolerate racism in any form. We stand in solidarity with the Black Community. We see you; we hear you; we support you; we will continue to educate ourselves and others, and we will advocate for you. Black Lives Matter.
If you have suggestions for actions we can take, organizations to which we can donate, or books we can read, please comment below or on our FB post.