To say last week was a difficult one for many of us is an understatement, Vixens. In addition to the stress of a COVID riddled world, we have been living through a concurrent pandemic – racism. Anti-black racism is not new and we recognize the harm that the wellness industry does to communities of colour. We know we are not in it together. We are not all experiencing the same things.

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As we close out Mental Health Awareness Month in the midst of a pandemic, during a week with more Black lives murdered by racist police + medical systems, let us be intentional ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We are having separate experiences but we are NOT separate. We are, by nature, social creatures. We NEED each other to survive ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Community-care often gets forgotten when we talk about HEALING and making effective/productive change. Community care is resistance to the white supremacist machine ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Caring for ourselves is vital right now, especially for Black folx, and it holds its own level of importance, but we CANNOT leave out the community aspect of healing ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Black + Indigenous folx have been coming together to help each other heal for hundreds of years. Mutual aid was (and often still is) simply our way of life. Our best way to survive ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Our ancestors knew that the dis-ease of one person in the group affected the WHOLE ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ If one person was hurting, everyone was hurting. They knew that together, they could continuously uplift each other ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Let us look to the wisdom of our ancestors to remember that as we care for ourselves + pour into ourselves, it is a crucial component to what we can do to enable change, as we come together ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This is the beauty of #BlackLivesMatter + all the various Black and Indigenous organizations creating collective change thru collective care. Care includes righteous rage. And ACTION ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So, what are you doing for yourself during this current crisis? ESPECIALLY our fellow Black bbs ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ How have you also been participating in community care? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ How are you prioritizing the mental wealth and physical safety of ALL Black + Indigenous folx? Always and ALL ways. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ How will you continue caring for the most marginalized, as well as your own mental wealth, beyond the month of May? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ To our Black community: WHAT DO YOU MOST NEED RIGHT NOW? Let the world know in the comments below. White + Non-Black POC: Head to @mnfreedomfund to support activists on the ground ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ xo Team RR ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ID: “we are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness” by thich nhat hanh

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As individuals, and as a business, we are at different stages of our journey to being anti-rascist. This is a critical time for us to listen, learn and act. Audre Lorde’s words about self care being a political act still ring true, but care cannot be limited to ourselves. We wouldn’t be who we are, or where we are without our community. Here is how we can take better care of each other, and of you.

LISTEN 

As individuals…

Breaking Silence

Carianne Leung, a Canadian Studies Scholar notes that Racism is a form of terrorism. This kind of stress on our minds, bodies, and spirits can’t be diminished.” This sort of terrorism thrives in silence. As we negotiate this reality, please reach out and share your experience with those you feel comfortable with and seen by so we can break the silence with love, and be consensually present with each other. 

Wellness Planning

Where we are able, we will do our own wellness planning with this resource from the Audre Lorde Project and then we will explore how we can each support our community with the learning and resources we bring.

As a business

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When we commit ourselves to authentic anti-racism it’s an all-hands on deck experience.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It requires our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual buy in. We appreciate that so long as white supremacy reigns supreme there are lives and livelihoods are on the line, so it is our obligation to give this work our ALL. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We acknowledge the ways in which we have perpetuated white supremacy – through racism or internalized oppression – and commit ourselves to the deep inner work required to face our shadows and heal our hearts so we can contribute to healing the collective divide.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This work is also reflected in who we surround ourselves with (and equally who we do not). If your closest friends and family aren’t doing this work then you aren’t really doing yours. Your inner circle is a reflection of you and what you value – what is yours telling you?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ When we are dedicated to fighting racial injustice we simply will not stand for those who continue to choose complacency and perpetuating harm.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We need to bring people into this movement, without question. And sometimes engaging in such a discussion is precisely what is required, especially for the white folx cuz y’all are doing the most harm (collect your people)! But it is equally important to lead by example and make it clear that racism and white supremacist behaviors will not be tolerated. Boundaries need to be set and stuck to. They needn’t be mean or vindictive, but sometimes we can make the loudest point by being clear about what is unacceptable + being unwilling to engage with such behavior.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ When you are authentically engage in anti-racism you will likely lose friends + family members. Your viewpoint goes against the status quo + demeans those with power and privilege. It can be a lonely place. You will give ish up. Without question. But oh what you will gain! Healing, connection, being on the right side of history + so much more. xo R

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Space for wellness 

We recognize the space and power we hold as a business in the fitness and wellness community. We will work with all of you to create an inclusive space where you feel seen, see yourselves, and feel safe. We will support conversations about how we strategize as a community to get our shared needs and desires met. 

We will also share, and practice, strategies for grounding, support, resilience, transformation, and accountability. As leaders we are committed to doing this work and creating spaces that are inclusive and can be a space of wellness for all and not just a select few.

LEARN 

As individuals

As teachers and staff who create a space of wellness, we commit to better understanding the process of racialization and how it strengthens the social construct of races as real, different and unequal in relation to economic, political and social life.

We will continue to be mindful of the language we commonly use both in our instruction and how we engage with each other. We will strive to use terms that express race as a social construct, rather than as a description of persons based on perceived characteristics.

It can be challenging to know where to start, so we’ll be using these anti-racism resources. We will also make an effort to learn more about the experience of Black Canadians and their role in Canadian history and politics. Their fight against institutional racism in the civil rights movement has paved the way for many immigrants to be here today.

As a business 

We are starting conversations with our team, and with key members of our community to understand the experiences of our members. That understanding will inform our long term strategy to maintain a safe, inclusive, anti-racist space that recognizes and honours the cultures that they come from. We will work with you to refine this space and ensure that it is as inclusive and anti-racist as possible.

ACT

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As individuals

Allyship

We will watch our thoughts, be self aware, and be in our bodies. We realize that every action we take is another opportunity to show by example what allyship can look like. We will learn what our physical, physiological and psychological responses to challenging situations look like and how we can manage them. And we will ally quietly, support movements led by these communities in the ways they are asking to be supported.

Amplify

As individuals with platforms and voices, some of us will be taking part in #amplifymelanatedvoices. We will follow BIPOC creators, amplify their content and credit them for their work.

As a business

Insist on accountability

When our partners, suppliers and supporters make statements of support for our community we will ask them to demonstrate this support by sharing examples of how they support diversity and create inclusive spaces. We will encourage them to ensure that they have representatives from BIPOC communities at the highest levels of their organization, and we will  require proof they’ve actually donated to the causes they say they support.

Put our money where our mouth is

The Toronto Foundation has a list of Black-led and Black- serving organizations working to dismantle racism and doing the difficult, necessary work to right inequalities that persist  in Toronto. We will be offering a PWYC class to and 100% of the proceeds from this class will go directly to our selected cause. Stay tuned for more information. If you can’t make it to class, and you have the means to do so, please consider making a donation to one of these organizations.

We are observing Blackout Tuesday today alongside others in the entertainment and dance industry. We thank Niya for her thoughtful contribution and  guideline for how we might listen, learn and act today and moving forward. Stay tuned and stay well!