The importance of tackling issues surrounding race and ethnicity

12/08/2017 – Twenty-two year old Rubens Blanc joined Fight for Peace in 2008 to train boxing and today he also trains Brazilian jiu jitsu. At the Rio Academy, Rubens has held roles as Assistant Boxing Coach and Receptionist, he has been a part of the Youth Council and he is currently working as an intern within Fight for Peace’s Boxing & Martial Arts Pillar. Here, Rubens explains what it is to be part of Fight for Peace’s Race and Ethnicity Group at the Rio Academy:

The Race and Ethnicity Group at Fight for Peace was created with the aim of combatting racial and ethnic inequalities that exist in our society and among young people at our Academy. With this in mind, we stage regular activities which are designed to encourage our members to reflect on issues such as racism, xenophobia, race and ethnicity.

We deal with issues such as our identities and tackle nicknames which, while commonly used and sometimes accepted in our society, are racist and cause offence. We look at why some young people are reluctant to identify themselves as black on registration forms, which is common in Rio de Janeiro. We discuss these subjects in talks which are organised in partnership with Fight for Peace’s Support Services team and we consider the different spaces in which these themes exist – sport being one of these spaces.

Boxing and martial arts competitions are themselves a form of social integration as, during championships, people with a wide range of nationalities and backgrounds come together to compete as equals. Sport also offers the chance to travel to other countries and discover different cultures.

Across the boxing and martial arts classes held at Fight for Peace, no distinction exists along racial, gender or class lines. Everyone is in the same environment to train and become better in their chosen discipline. In our community we have people coming from different areas, people who belong to different factions, but inside our Academy they come together because they all come with the same intention – to practice sport.

Here at Fight for Peace we also have the philosophy that someone that is training martial arts cannot involve themselves in fights in the street and our values are strongly reflected in our work. We work to help children and young people living in communities affected by crime and violence develop their talents, united and together, in an environment where everyone is welcome and in the name of peace.