How to Stand Up and Speak Out When You Don’t Know What to Say
Talking about current events right now is … well, it’s awful. And not in a “man, my favorite fitness class got cancelled today” kinda way. It’s more in a “IS THIS REALITY?” end-of-the-world sort of way. (Yes, this is happening — and no, it’s not new.)
It can feel like, the more you pay attention — and maybe even the more you educate yourself — the more difficult it becomes to find the right words, or to do the right thing. But a lot of us (including my white-woman self and my white-woman business partner, Jenn) are fully waking up to the fact that remaining quiet and on the periphery is not a viable option.
(Let me be clear — I understand that some people DO opt to remain silent, avoid the news, change the subject when friends make comments, but being able to do so is a luxury. But make no mistake: If you’re able to do this, it’s a mark of your privilege, and if your circumstances or the color of your skin were different, it would no longer be an option.)
We need to step up — now, today, in real and meaningful ways — if we really care about fit bottoms coming in ALL shapes, sizes, colors and backgrounds. And we do care. So we’re addressing it. And we’re hoping to helping readers in our shoes do the same.
Now is not the time for any of us to allow our lack of perfect words or flawless advice stop us from speaking out. Not me, not you.
You might feel some guilt or even shame, particularly if you’re someone who’s never historically been targeted by hate groups or discrimination and are only now waking up to the fact that this shit has been happening all along. That’s understandable. Allow it — then move past it and start doing good work.
Because there is a lot of work to do. I know it’s uncomfortable. As you know, I am fairly terrible at confrontation. Often, my voice will shake and my knees will tremble, but when I hear or see overt racism, sexism, homophobia or other types of cruelty or ignorance, I know I have to stand up and speak out. And I know that, more often than not, I can speak and my voice will be heard and it’s unlikely that I’m risking bodily harm. It’s worth noting that that’s not the case for everyone in this world.
Where I find things get trickier, though, is in the everyday instances. It’s one thing to stand up and put someone in their place when they’re clearly and purposely preaching hate or intolerance. You want to talk to me about why loving a woman loving another woman is wrong, or why you think those “very fine people” in Charlottesville maybe had a point? We will certainly have quite a discussion, and no, I will not mince words.
But sometimes, when a topic is more nuanced, I’ve questioned my ability to properly address the issue. I’m not an expert on race, or feminism, or gender fluidity. I haven’t been a lifelong activist. But I’m learning that too many of us feel that way, and too many of us hold our tongues out of fear — fear of not saying the right thing, fear of alienating friends, family and colleagues, fear of being seen as angry or unreasonable or (gasp) impolite.
Well, you know what? If you’ve always been comfortable, then talking about race and gender and privilege is probably going to feel a bit scary. And that’s fair, because there are a lot of people out there who have never been comfortable. Ever.
I never worried about whether there’d be a Barbie with whom I could identify. It’s not hard for me to find movies or books that feature women like me or men like my father or husband. I am not followed or watched when I go into a convenience store — even if I have my hands in the pockets and my hoodie pulled over my head. As a white, middle class, cisgender, straight, employed woman, I am the definition of privileged.
And regardless of your current status or background, I’m betting there’s at least one way in which you can consider yourself privileged. (Don’t believe me? I beg you to please watch or listen to this video Brené Brown posted in the wake of the horrific events Charlottesville. Yes, it might make you feel a little uncomfortable. Please do it anyway.)
Okay, okay, so you’re on board to speak up for oppressed communities to which you don’t belong … but you still don’t know quite what to say. Totally fair! I’m going to share a few links to resources I’ve found helpful below, but I want to make one point really clear: It is not the duty of the disenfranchised to educate you. If you have friends facing discrimination, and they want to share action items with you, awesome. (My advice in this case: listen with open ears and don’t try to compare your experiences. Just hear what they have to say, period.) And remember, our black friends, our gay friends, our trans friends — they’ve been fighting their fight all along, so let’s educate ourselves so we can go directly to the front lines to join them.
10 Ways to Fight Hate: Southern Poverty Law Center
How to support victims, pressure leaders, teach acceptance and more. This is a rich and informative guide with lots of actionable takeaways. Read it. Share it. Act on it.
75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
Pick a couple and do them today. Then another couple tomorrow. And tomorrow … and tomorrow.
Nice White Ladies
A website “dedicated to bringing white folks up to speed on the racial justice conversation.” Got questions? Feel like even talking about being white might be racist? Start here.
Dear Fitness Professionals …: Chrissy King Fitness
Whether you’re a fitness professional or a professional with a voice and a following in another realm, read this for your call to action.
I Need to Talk to Spiritual White Women About White Supremacy (Part One): Wild Mystic Woman.
Why we all need to do more than spread love and light. Get ready for your eyes to be opened wide, especially if you consider yourself spiritual and loving.
Please know that EVERYONE is welcome here in the Fit Bottomed World. And, this is just a start — there are so, so many more great think pieces and guides out there, and we’ll add more as we go along. What would you add to this list? There’s strength in numbers, so let’s work together — starting today. —Kristen