With New Year’s resolutions on everyone’s mind, a history professor is warning that working out in America is rooted in white supremacy, eugenics, and racism.
Natalia Mehlman-Petrzela, a history professor at the New School in New York City, believes fitness is a social justice issue.
She argues in her new book, “Fit Nation: The Gains and Pains of American Exercise Obsession,” that American exercise has a history of racism.
Mehlman-Petrzela told the “Mindful Strength” podcast that “strength training” was encouraged “as a way for white people to distinguish themselves and exert power over people of color.”
She added, “If you read anything in the history of eugenics or whiteness studies, the idea of white people being uniquely self-disciplined and having mastery over their impulses or their urges, as opposed to savage people of color, is a very important theme.”
The woke educator said strength training was encouraged for white women “specifically” so “they’re perpetuating the white race.”
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In her research, she told TIME that fitness enthusiasts in the 20th century were “progressive” but “then you keep reading, and they’re saying white women should start building up their strength because we need more white babies. They’re writing during an incredible amount of immigration, soon after enslaved people have been emancipated. This is totally part of a white supremacy project. So that was a real ‘holy crap’ moment as a historian, where deep archival research really reveals the contradictions of this moment.”
But it’s not just strength training. Running is also rooted in racism, according to the professor.
“Women were catcalled. People of color were thought to be committing a crime,” Mehlman-Petrzela said. “The ‘running is for everybody’ discourse still quite often leaves out the fact that depending on where you live and the body that you live in, it can be a very different kind of experience.”
Matt Lamb, an associate editor at The College Fix, called out the history expert in an op-ed.
“Of course, since racism existed in the 19th and 18th and 17th century, it is probably possible to link virtually everything to ‘racism’ or ‘white supremacy,'” Lamb said.
“Exercise itself, which has existed from the beginning of time, is not actually racist of course,” he added. “But in academia’s race obsessed world, professors must find a way to turn their academic interests into a fight for wokeness and leftism.”
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