Conversations with a black woman:
“You were the first woman that I had met who was a martial artist. I didn’t know women did that kind of stuff. I grew up in the ghetto and we just didn’t have knowledge of things like that. We didn’t know we had options. It was every day life, just trying to protect yourself from violence. It’s hard to protect yourself when you don’t know how. It’s hard to make a better life, when you don’t have resources that provide information. We always thought that the martial arts were a Hollywood movie magic myth. We didn’t realize that stuff was real.”
When my friend told me this last week, I was dumb founded. I grew up a middle class white girl in a middle class neighborhood. She grew up a poor black girl in an inner city ghetto. It’s strange that our lives intersected, but I’m happy it did. She has enlightened me. After she related the words above, she then told me another story. When she was fourteen, she was raped by a police officer. It was the word of a police officer against the word of a poor black teenager. Needless to say, the event was never reported. Then she told me that if the young girls in the poor neighborhoods knew people like me, had role models like me, their lives would be changed. They wouldn’t be victims, they would be survivors.
This has made me think about how I deal with being a fighter in public. I don’t run around saying, “I’m a fighter”. To know that, you have to train with me, be a close friend or read my blog. Even on my blog, I don’t post images of myself. In fact, you can google my name and the only images you will see are my art work and a distant video of me grappling Neither shows my face. Maybe I should be more open and public about being a fighter. If I had been more open about it, could I have changed a child’s life? Is there a person out there who would’ve been able to defend themself against a rape or assault? By meeting me, could they have coped better in the aftermath of their attack? Maybe meeting me would have inspired them to be a survivor and not a victim. I will never know. Maybe there is a way that I can affect positive change in the lives of others. Maybe I should start putting myself out there more. Could I be a positive role model? Can you be a positive role model to the people around you?