Recently, I’ve made a few observations since I started going to the gym again. I’ve had my starts and stops with this love-hate relationship regarding physical exertion — like many folks I’m guessing. I stopped going last year due to my rationalization that it took 25 minutes to get there — plus it made my body just ache. Well lo and behold, a new Planet Fitness was conveniently built less than 10 minutes from where I live — so that excuse has now been eliminated completely and I’m back.
Having less than stellar knees, I don’t do a list of complex things when I go other than the treadmill. I walk (as opposed to jog) to lessen direct knee impact and my current frequency averages 3 times a week. I do walk quickly enough to burn about 300-400 calories an hour, which equates to about a bite of the nuclear-sized donuts at the Amish Farmers Market next door.
But this observation of mine isn’t about calories, sweat or even the hot guy in the tight blue shirt doing arm curls in the weight area. It’s about Race — the other love-hate relationship I have.
When I do my walking on the treadmill, I don’t plug into the 3 million television sets overhead because I need a rhythm to walk. I have my earbuds plugged into my favorite deep house sounds to keep the pace up enough so I can burn the fat which will allow me to enjoy a donut later.
So anyway, I’m “viewing” the TVs overhead because it helps pass the time and with the closed caption feature on them, I can watch and get a general gist of what most programs are about. Again, not the subject of my observation.
A commercial comes on the cbs station about a new film coming out called “Race.” It’s about the adversity that track and field star Jesse Owens had to overcome in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The word “Race” is stark in the ad and while the story is about running races and racial inequality, I’m uncomfortable with the use of the word and how it’s most likely being used as a halfway clever ploy to get people to notice the film. Once again, not the observation I’m making here, but it DID make me take a look at the rest of the TVs all at once.
As I watched a diverse mix of game shows, crime-recreation shows, cooking, talk, news and sports interview shows — I couldn’t help but notice the disproportionate number of minority faces on the tube. Seriously, the percentage of faces like mine were ghostly absent. At 11:30 am., 9 out of 10 sets overhead at the gym were full of minority faces. Faces in commercials too. Women, men, children as actors, spokespeople, contestants and chefs of every nationality flooded my workout way of thinking.
With all of this diversity in my face, I couldn’t help but think about the recent racial complaint where the Academy Awards Committee was accused of snubbing the black community while favoring “white” produced films. The complaint where Jada Pinkett and Spike Lee — who coincidentally have both used the same white community to bankroll their own projects — decided to boycott the Oscar show.
I get defensive about these types of blanket positions mostly because — well, I’m white. I know about the privilege thing (I’m constantly reminded), I understand the pay disparities, I even realize that I don’t take offense to that nod between male members of the black race when I’m with my black husband and I turn invisible.
What I don’t get is when I’m inundated with sound bytes about how racism continues in the entertainment and sports communities. I’m told it’s unfair and disproportionate. The TVs at my gym tell me otherwise. And on a side note — I wonder why so much of the advertising to the black community transpires during this daytime hour.