Yesterday, I posed a question to my Facebook friends, based on an experience I had earlier in the evening. I posed the question and it seemed within minutes comments, backhanded insults, and pretty damn good points were flying. Yes, I had some thoughts too, but an Ikea excursion prevented me from chiming in, so I thought I would do it here. Oh, wait you need the post right?
*Snaps fingers (or cuts and pastes)*
So today I was asked (by a black man)....why on average are black women so lazy...now he was pretty direct about it but I have had other men friends indirectly state this and I'm just wondering fellas is this really what you think?
Ok, got it?, good. Let's get started
In the comments section, I explained this was a situation that occurred in the gym while witnessing a woman's lackluster effort. I do believe he was speaking in a physical fitness oriented manner and not an all around way. Giving a little more background, this woman is fairly new to the gym and the person who made the comment does know her and works out with her. His comment, however, was not a joke; he pulled me aside and seriously asked the question.
My initial reaction to the question was quite honestly, best described as, shock and awe. I had no idea why he was asking me; as I thought my disheveled afro puff made it clear I was a black woman too. However, after promptly telling him how crazy he was and attempting to return to my workout he said, "just think about" before he walked away. I did. I thought about it as I finished my workout and on my drive home. Although many people believe it's a challenge for me to see outside of my own views; I actually do strongly weigh views opposing my own. Although, I can not say he was right, I will agree with a friend of mine and say the man isn't completely crazy. Now, before you click on the little X in the corner, hear me out. The gym I go to is not a membership type of gym, it is technically a personal training studio. The gym is simply the place where you come to workout with your trainer. You don't just come in, hop on a treadmill for 40 minutes and then go home; you don't choose your workout. Everyone working out in the gym is following a workout provided by their personal trainer. With that being said, I think it is a given you see a lot of people struggling through their workouts, drenched in sweat, and damn near on the brink of death. Myself included. When I think of all the women I see in the gym pretty regularly, I can say honestly, I hear complaining, whining and just plain wall slide struggle from all races. However, when it comes to who is putting in the least effort and who is putting in the most, I will say it can easily be any race of women on both accords.(At least in this specific gym)
Painting any group of people with one broad stroke is ridiculous, so lazy is far from a term I would use, but, I will say there does seem to be a more pronounced willingness to give up in some of the black women who are battling to complete their workout than with the women of other races who are encountering the same trial. (Again, in this gym). On the same accord however, there are black women who make up their mind to "do this" and there is no stopping them. I think when it comes to working out, it actually is a little harder for black women to get started, which really is symptomatic of cultural background. When I think of all the women of different races with who I am friends, almost all of them were involved in some sort of athletic endeavor in high school. They played tennis, swim team, volleyball, cheerleading, gymnastics, etc. As black women, I don't feel we are encouraged to participate in athletics in the way everyone else is growing up. The few who do participate in anything other than cheerleading often have their sexuality questioned or are ridiculed about their lack of concern for things like their hair.
We all reach a point as adults where we can no longer ignore the weight that is piling on, and for women who have never experienced a real workout, especially one with a trainer, it can be extremely difficult. It is difficult to workout with a trainer at any age, but to begin something like that at 30 with no other athletic background is damn near excruciating, believe me, I know. Unless, there is a driving force beyond vanity, giving up seems way more viable.
It is not alright to label a whole group of people based on a few you see in one specific gym but I can not say I do not know what he is seeing. I have watched a black woman do four reps of the ordered 20 and pretend she was finished when her trainer came back to check on her and another black woman attempt to "sneak out" before she completed her workout. However, I have also seen a Persian woman lay on the floor for damn near 15 minutes when she was suppose to be doing an ab workout (to the point her trainer told her to leave if she didn't want to work) and a white woman put on her coat after her warm-up and leave saying, "I can't do this today". This man however, probably does not feel the same about their actions. As a black man he is going to focus way more on how black women conduct themselves versus any others, because as black people it is embedded in us that we represent one another. The truth is we do not. The point is those are those individuals not a representation of a race or gender. I believe all people have a tendency to expect more from those they see themselves within. Black people are not the only ones who attack each other. I have been personally told by a white man that white women are too needy, a Latin man who said Latin women are too volatile, and an Asian woman who felt the need to "confirm" Asian men were not well endowed. Unless you have regular in-depth discussions with people of other backgrounds you never know what other people say about each other, however, the solution is not to feed into stereotypes, see people as only a representation of themselves and encourage someone you think is headed in a less than positive direction to veer back on the right path. I just know I am grateful for the people who did not write me off as a "lazy black woman" when I first got started working toward my goals (because yep I wanted to quit too) and I am eagerly anticipating the day I can "pay it forward".