This morning at the gym I was warming up on the basketball court and had noticed there were three other humans doing a circuit workout on the other side. I had my music paused but my headphones were still in as I walked over to grab a tool to help me stretch. I couldn’t have been more than 5ft when I overheard the beginning of a crude and racist joke. One human then preceded to mimic the accent of a foreigner and the other two laughed. I felt so disgusted in that moment that I wanted to turn and call them names but quickly realized that answering hate with more hate is how we’ve gotten here.
So what did I do? I said nothing and walked back to my side of the court and turned on my headphones.
I attempted to get my head back in the game but quickly realized that I wasn’t the one who should feel like I had done something wrong. But I had done something wrong. I did what so many people do everyday when they see or hear violence. I walked away and said nothing. So I took a deep breath in, I held my head high and walked back over. I then explained that the joke they told was racist and inappropriate and I felt that if I didn’t say anything then no one would and the hate would continue. I explained that we’re in a gym and that I see one of them every week with their small child. I told them how sad it would be to have that child growing up thinking that mimicking the accent of someone was ok.
And you know what? They agreed. They said I was absolutely correct and then high-fived me. When we overhear racism, when we see hate, violence, and bigotry we have to stand up to it, even if it means standing alone. I do not claim perfection myself.
This platform was constructed from my own story of growth and sharing all those moments when I’ve been aware enough to move through the tough moments in life and come out a stronger individual on the other side. I’ve been called out for things I feel shame around and yet I’m still here, still working on it, and still willing to grow through the discomfort.