Dear Fencers Club Community,
We believe in actions, not just words. The horrific event in Minnesota, the killing of a defenseless African-American, George Floyd, again made us aware how much further our country still has to go to unconditionally embrace, support, and provide equal opportunities for our members that identify as Black and/or African-American. The country has since been mobilized to seize this important moment to better our country, and this is not time for another statement providing just words of support to our Black and African-American community, words that can ring hollow when not backed by actions.
We believe our loudest "words" of support for equality and justice are our actions every day at Fencers Club via our outreach programs, our promotion of inclusivity, our celebration of victories big and small from all corners of our community, and our culture that has long supported competing with our greatest passion on the strip across all ethnicities and age with respect and compassion.
However, we can continue to do more to support our Black and African-American fencers. We cannot only condemn racism but we have to find the incremental actions to push back against systemic racism, provide new opportunities for advancement within our Black and African-American fencer community and provide a safe and healthy environment where they can thrive and have a voice. Thus, while we will continue our long-followed actions at FC in pursuit of equality and providing opportunities in underserved communities, below are recent incremental actions put in place:
- As we will simply not tolerate inappropriate behavior in our community, today we suspended a long-time valued coach of Fencers Club as their behavior and words were completely unacceptable and inconsistent with our community's values. Only if the terms of suspension, which includes sensitivity training, are adhered to, will the suspension be satisfied. Upon return, they are also required to perform community service.
- We are updating and strengthening our code of conduct for our coaches and for our members.
- We are establishing a hotline # 212.206.8507 to provide an impartial resource that any member of the FC community can use to have their voice heard and to report when they see, or have been inflicted by, acts of racism at FC. As an alternative to the hotline #, a form on FC's website (www.fencersclub.org) will be available for similar anonymous communication.
- Our Opportunities Beyond program, which for years has worked with children in underserved communities to offer sustainable and horizon broadening opportunities through fencing, is now being expanded by focusing on Black and African-American youth. This new initiative will find interested students to become part of the Fencers Club community with scholarship supported memberships, lessons, classes, and competitions.
This is a never-ending journey. We will get there with FC doing its part. Further actions that the Board of Directors can consider to keep moving forward in supporting our Black and African-American fencers are always welcomed and encouraged.
Stay safe, stay strong.
Executive Committee, Fencers Club Board of Directors