Celebrating Blackness: Michelle
Happy Black History Month! During February -- and literally every month on the calendar -- we're all about celebrating Black leaders and empowering the next gen of badasses.
We caught up with Boston instructor Michelle to learn what Blackness means to her, how to celebrate it more in 2018, and how we can encourage more #BlackGirlMagic in fitness!
Growing up, what did Blackness mean to you?
As a kid I didn't know that being Black was looked down upon. I didn't understand the reality of being black in America until I became a young adult.
I remember the first few moments when I started traveling on public transportation as a teen with my sisters and friends. So many non-POC (people of color) were standoffish or treated us differently.
I am still learning everyday what my Blackness means. It is challenging reality. You always feel like you're trying to prove your worth.
What does #BlackGirlMagic look like at ((305))?
((305)) allows me to connect with people of other races and hopefully, represent a positive view of Black women. Our clientele is predominantly White females. I hope my joy and connection introduces a different perspective than the the negative ones used against Black women (of being on welfare, being angry, uneducated, etc). At the end of the day, I want all women to understand I bleed 5 to 7 days a month just like them!
The boutique fitness world has been an overwhelmingly White space - both in clienteles and leaders. How can we make it a more inviting place for people of color?
There aren't many POC in the fitness world because we've been conditioned to believe the only way to workout is through sports. The Black community needs better access and education. We need to be empowered and given resources to understand how to make healthy lifestyle changes.
One of the ways studios can get people of color to work out more with them is to hire more POC instructors! Many people would want to take a class from someone who looks like them. For clients, it can be aspirational and inspirational, so it helps to see someone who looks like you leading the class.
What is something about being Black that needs to be more celebrated?
Just being Black needs to be celebrated more. We get the shortest month of the year to celebrate all things Black. We're breaking barriers, making history and in 2018, still becoming the first in various fields.
Do you think there are ways people can appreciate and not appropriate?
Give the credit where the credit is due. It's ok to be inspired and it's wonderful to learn what beauty looks like in other cultures. It's not ok to take from another culture, rebrand it and call it "trendy," like it's something you discovered. Now you have a bunch of people thinking Kim Kardashian invented cornrows... 😒 I would love to see all of us do more research to learn the history and origins, before claiming a new trend.
Finally, what can people do to help dismantle anti-black racism?
We have a long way to go before we can completely dismantle anti-black racism. There are deep-rooted issues that we have not faced as a country. But as things are slowly surfacing, we can only tackle them as they come.
It all starts with empathy. You have a tremendous impact in how you shape and alter the perspectives of your peers. We all need to walk in each other's shoes to empathize more.
Love Michelle? YUP.
Celebrate with her in class ASAP.