CW: Although there is no explicit or graphic imagery or description, the following letter does contain discussions of violence against Black people.
Dearest IATBP members,
First and foremost, we want to send out our deepest and sincerest condolences to the many families and communities that have been affected by the tragic deaths of and violence towards Black people – not only those that have been on the news recently, but for every single death and act of violence that Black communities have had to endure under this pervasive and historic system of anti-Black racism. All those that aren’t brought to the forefront of the movement: all of the deaths of Black LGBTQ+ community members, all the deaths of disabled and mentally ill Black folks, all the deaths of Black women and femmes.
We understand that our apologies cannot undo this violence, but we will not allow this injustice to continue being suffered in silence. The IATBP has a responsibility to its Black members and Black communities, and we will uphold that responsibility.
We know that this is a battle that has been going for a long time, and that will not come to an end after #BlackLivesMatter stops trending online – until another murder occurs at the hands of the police.
This is a long-term fight to ensure that hopefully, within our lifetimes, we come to see this country 1) end this system of violence against Black people that so often occurs at the hands of the police, and 2) implement genuine change to end the systemic problems of anti-Black racism that plague our society.
Part of this anti-Blackness is deeply entrenched in the fitness industry, in which major bodybuilding federations, other strength sports federations, non-Black fitness leaders and influencers, and fitness brands of all types regularly take advantage of the Black people that compete under their names, work for/with them, model for them, etc. to promote ideals of diversity. Yet, very few of them choose to speak out about injustice against Black folks, even now, in a time where the issue has been brought to the forefront of the country’s attention.
Staying silent means staying complicit – and staying complicit means actively choosing to allow anti-Black racism to continue.
We echo our friends at Pull for Pride and the many Black fitness leaders who have already been declaring this sentiment for decades: that the anti-Blackness within the fitness community directly contributes to the murder, brutality, and systemic oppression of Black people.
In fact, everything we are currently writing in this letter and that any White and non-Black person has had to say on the issues of racism and police brutality has come directly from the (often free) education Black people have been giving us for centuries. Because of this, we encourage our White members to take this opportunity to uplift, follow, pay, work with, learn from and, no matter what, stand with the Black people within the health and fitness community. We also encourage our White and non-Black members to work towards solidarity and empathy that does not center their own feelings or experiences with racism, complacency, or guilt.
We at the IATBP stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, today and every day, and demand justice for ALL Black people, particularly Nina Pop, Tony McDade, and every Black trans person affected by police brutality or any form anti-Black, transphobic violence. Black trans people, particularly Black Trans women and femmes, face higher rates of harassment, assault, violence, and murder than cisgender or White folks.
We ask our IATBP community to stand with our Black members and Black Trans people around the world. Here we have a link of several Black-run LGBTQ+ organizations, as well as several funds and petitions created specifically for Black folks of Trans experience, that we hope you will learn from, donate to, and support however you can. There is also this petition currently just under 300 signatures shy of its goal, demanding that the United States Powerlifting Association support Black lives & create inclusive spaces.
Black Lives Matter, Black Trans Lives Matter, Black Lives Will Always Matter. This is by no means the end – no justice = no peace.
The IATBP Board