PAX of F3 Raleigh,

As we spend the day reflecting on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and engage in difficult discussions with our brothers in the gloom, I wanted to share an opportunity, along with some personal testimonies, to dive even deeper.

Per their website, the Racial Equity Institute (REI) is “an alliance of trainers, organizers, and institutional leaders who have devoted ourselves to the work of creating racially equitable organizations and systems. We help individuals and organizations develop tools to challenge patterns of power and grow equity.”

Through various approaches, the REI strives to educate and help, through facts and history, groups on how to deal with issues of racial inclusion and diversity. Over the past 9 months, approximately 50 PAX in F3 Raleigh, including YHC, have experienced this two-day course, and have been impacted by its message.

This is not an easy topic to discuss. A common theme from the testimonies our brothers shared is that “I went in thinking I knew about equity but left realizing that I knew nothing. It was a challenging two-day course, but I’m a better person because of it.”

I encourage each of you to discern if this course is your next step in your journey to better understanding racial issues. It may be, but it also may not be the right time. I and the other PAX who have taken this course understand that feeling. Please feel free to reach out to any of the PAX listed below to learn more about their experience.

Screen Time, Apu, Peach Pit, Rain Man, El Guapo, Wendell Gee, Blue Crush, Fazio, Drysdale, Matador, Walk this Way, Peaches, Curb Appeal, Kenobi, Jimmer, Couch, Cotton, Dow, Coco Crisp, Hope Solo, Science and Math, Lobster Roll, Floppy Disk, Don’t Fix It, Hashbrown, Chowder, Vector Victor, Yoda, Hook, Hot Tub Time Machine, Battery, Phineas, El Duece

Reach out to YHC, Hot Tub Time Machine, or Yoda to find out when the next course is available.

To shed a little insight into the course and how it impacted the attendees, I’ve asked the PAX to share their testimonies.

The REI class was one of the most impactful experiences of my adult life. It left me questioning a lot; most significantly wondering how I can be a better citizen and neighbor to improve the equality of opportunity in this country. The content is gut wrenching and it can be a heavy experience, but one worthwhile. Highly recommended. Lean in and get uncomfortable.” – Blue Crush

The REI course was definitely an eye opener for me.  I felt like I was pretty well versed in the history of racial discrimination, but it really gave me a different perspective.  I especially liked the racial diversity in the class and being able to have honest hard discussions with folks who aren’t in my normal social circles.” – Dow

It helped me understand why the current socioeconomic environment in our country is the way it is. Being an immigrant from Romania, I felt there’s no reason anyone shouldn’t be able to get a college degree in the US to be able to create a career for themselves but I took for granted the privilege of the color of my skin & the familial environment I was raised in. There is a lot to say about one becoming a product of their environment but it’s even so much deeper than that & the REI class does a tremendous job getting into the history and detail.” – Screen Time

I am grateful for having had the opportunity to participate in the REI workshop.  Learning about the history of institutional and structural racism in the U.S. was an eye opening experience and made me realize how much I don’t know and still have to learn on the topic.  The training was informative and at times left me feeling uncomfortable, but throughout my life I’ve learned many of the good and important things in life are this way.  The REI workshop is a reminder that we need to learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.  I encourage others to participate in the REI training because I think it is important to develop a common understanding and common language to begin addressing structural racism in our country.– Apu

When Hot Tub Time Machine started mentioning REI at workouts it sounded like a really great course at any time, but especially during the summer of 2020. Two days seemed a bit much, but surely it was a lecture series format where I could drop in and drop out right? And, I like Black and Brown people, which means I’m not a racist and this course will conveniently affirm my confidence.  So, sure, I’ll sign up. 

After the first hour on Zoom, my thoughts were:

1. This is incredibly well done and powerful, two days isn’t enough

2. I’m an overpaid fish fixer

3. Rain Man’s office is impeccably clean

It’s hard to overstate the quality of the course. The content is historical, instructive, and interactive. Our facilitators did an excellent job of engaging the participants in a thoughtful way with accessible analogies and specific examples of legislation, facts, and experiences.  If you’re looking for emotional click bait, you won’t find it. The breakout sessions allowed us to interact with the other participants, who were a mix of ages and races, and produced ideas for general discussion. The “lectures” were full of information which you sort of knew, but the course brings up facts not often mentioned, and places them in a different perspective to call up the basic question: are we, or have we ever been, equitable as a country? The answer is uncomfortable and revealing, but is a starting point for understanding and reconciliation which I didn’t fully have before taking this course. 

The highest praise I can give is that I will take the course again. And, I’ve sent links to REI to anyone who will listen, and encouraged my family to take it as well. You can’t really explain to people what they will get out of the course, but an understanding of historical inequity is the best description I have come up with. I’m glad Hot Tub encouraged PAX to take the course, I’ll add my voice to his and others to recommend it”.  – El Guapo

We possess a sad history around the ways our society treated minorities in general and Native Americans and Blacks in particular.  REI helped me reflect on how that history shaped the world we live in today.  It helped me better understand while we made tremendous progress, we also have a lot of work to do. I am optimistic and hopeful for our future that through dialogue and interaction, educational efforts such as REI, and the structure of our great country, warts and all, we will continue to make progress to help our black brothers and sisters and others marginalized to feel equal opportunity to achieve the American Dream as well.” – Science & Math

The REI class opened my eyes to the pervasiveness & deep rooted systemic racism built into the history of our country.  It’s a root cause of institutional barriers that prevent our African-American, Latino & other brothers & sisters from many opportunities.  I had to wrestle with my own family’s experience with racism that initially prevented my father from being passed over for promotions & unable to get a loan to start a business due to the color of his skin.  At the same time my occasional battles with racism seem to pale in comparison to the frequent & disproportionate policies & laws which African-Americans in particular have been subject to over hundreds of years. I felt the REI class reinforced my desire to take more intentional steps to stand up for justice & walk with my African-American brothers to fight for a more equitable way.  A way that levels the playing field, keeps these issues front & center & leads to meaningful change.  This is not an overnight process & I still have a ton to learn but I can no longer sit on the sidelines – I want to jump in, make a difference & invite others to join too.– Hashbrown

As a white man, I have found there is no better discussion-based class around America’s original sin, slavery, and the racist tendencies that have formed from that system.  This class gently shifts the narrative to a place where whites and blacks can understand that diversity is good, but equity is greater and desperately needed.   

Before I took REI, I was unaware of the equity-related issues in our country.  I thought civil rights took care of that.  I did not understand how I have benefitted over the years from this structure.  For instance, I wondered from time to time why Sunday at 11 is the most segregated time of the week?  But I never asked why?  I took it as normal.  That is not normal and it surely is not the Kingdom of God.  Or why most guys in F3 are white?  Why?  It can’t just be because…

In all of that, I know men of F3 are striving to be better.  Better with health, better with eating, better fathers, better husbands, better friends.  If we are ever going to be better around color, this class is a must.  Ask Don’t Fix It, Battery, Bike Shorts or any F3 man who has taken this class next time you are working out next to them”.  – Hot Tub Time Machine