It is my 9:30am crossfit class and as usual I am the only African American woman there. This scene is not unfamiliar to me. Whether it be the primarily white catholic elementary school or the private university I attended (and trust me there was not a single black face in any of my marine biology courses ) I have found myself to be the only one who looks like me in the majority of the experiences that have shaped and impacted my life.
However, when there was a time where segregation was very pertinent in this country’s history platforms such as sports and fitness broke through those color barriers. In these two realms there were two things that trumped color, winning and making money! An athlete could be the color blue and it would not matter to anyone as long as their talents were bringing titles, championships and lining the pockets of the wealthy.
So the question is why are there so few African American faces in Crossfit or more specifically why are there so few elite African American women in the world of Crossfit? I can remember starting Crossfit in 2014 and not seeing a single athlete at the Crossfit Reginals nor the Crossfit Games that looked like me with the exception of Elizabeth Akinwale and now due to her retirement from competitive Crossfit a few years ago us fellow day to day black female crossfitters are left with no representation.
I understand that in any respect the percentage of individuals that actually reach elite status in any forum is significantly low so seeing more women that look like me among the top female crossfitters would be a stretch or would it? Maybe ( and its a big maybe) we aren’t seeing elite black female crossfitters because there aren’t that many black female crossfitters period!
I see you don’t believe me. Well let me prove it to you. My local box has two locations with an estimated guess of anywhere from 75-100 clients. I can assure you that African Americans only make up 10-15 of those clients with only a little more than half of those numbers being black women. Truth be told I’ve never been in a class where there were more than three African Americans at one time whether it be male or female.
So the question is why such a discrepancy? Is it lack of awareness? Is it cultural? Real talk my fellow readers I believe it to be both. Personally among my family, friends and even co-workers I found that they have never heard of Crossfit, or assume its fitness methodology isn’t for them. What is even scarier were those who didn’t workout at all, I’ll leave my response to that absurdity for a later topic.
Listen, If you think I’m looking to place blame on Crossfit HQ, local crossfit boxes around the country or my fellow brown and black brothers and sisters you couldn’t be more wrong. One of Crossfit’s fundamental building blocks as an organization is community and I would like to see not only more African American women but women of color in general as intricate part of that community.