Sunday, October 18, 2015

What I Believe: Resisting Predatory Capitalism

Lately I've been thinking about the beliefs that animate my work.  I'll revise the list as I think of more things.
  • resisting consumerism and capitalism
  • treating people from every background with dignity and respect
  • reducing systemic barriers to wellness/fitness resources and education
  • centering Black feminist thought and WOC wellness initiatives
  • supporting alternative visions

This past week, I was asked what I use and what I'd like to promote.
My answer is "Nothing."

I feel like I'm most challenged and excited by that first category of resisting consumerism and capitalism.  While I'm not the first person to critique the fitness industry's misleading business practices or the first instructor to offer free classes, I do think that I'm rare in that I want to understand how the commodification of our bodies influences what we think fitness is.  I want to know how this industry sells bodies and body-related promises.

How Wrong Is Not My Name: Black Feminist Fitness resists predatory capitalism (an evolving list!)

  1. I do not sell supplements, vitamins, meal plans, training regimens, or anything else.  We (especially fat people) have been sold enough.
  2. I do not hoard my knowledge.  I share it freely and encourage others to take as much as they want.  At the same time I honor the skills and knowledge that my class participants have.  
  3. As a prison abolitionist, I believe that we can't use prisons to solve social problems.  I also believe that we can't use health/fitness to solve social problems.    
  4. I am actively seek out organizations who could use me because I know that their staffs are often very busy.  
  5. I borrow and barter whenever impossible instead of buying.
  6. I work with community members to develop programs that explore physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.  We are not our blood pressures or weight, any more than we are our salaries or zip codes.
  7. For me, becoming fit is not about being able to live longer or work longer hours.  Joyful movement is joyful for its own sake, not for its possible influence on work productivity or as an investment that demands some sort of payout.
  8. I remove the language of "no excuses" and "no pain no gain" from my classes.  We rest when we want to.
  9. I prioritize work with members of low and no income communities.  
  10. I support organizations agitating for health care, living wages, childcare, affordable housing, and other economic justice issues.  They can't be separated from my thinking about wellness.

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