Monday, June 20, 2011

2011 Jr. Nationals Figure...We Are All Witnesses

A truly historic moment in our sport. (Photo credit: RxMuscle)

Date: Saturday June 18, 2011
Place: Chicago, Illinois

The title said it all, we are all witnesses. On this night in the Windy City, the unheard-of took place at the Jr. Nationals, six women won their figure classes and four of them became pros. Although that was a great moment in itself (winning your class and joining the pro ranks), it's WHO won them that made it special. All six figure winners were of African-American decent. NEVER in the history of this sport have anything like this took place. SIX black women out-shined every other competitor to win their classes, and four of them would become IFBB Pros.  Those six women are Gloria Keplinger (Class A), Vicki Counts (Class B), Tambra Johnson (Class C), Candice Lewis (Class D and overall champion), Chaya Boone (Class E) and Tiffany Archer (Class F)! They will forever be known as the First Black Ladies Class of NPC/IFBB. And isn't it a bit ironic that this took place at the hometown of the current United States President (who is also a man of color, the first in U.S. history to hold the office)?

I witnessed this historic moment of the figure ladies being crowned on Siouxcountry, and the reaction blew me away. The positive vibes and overjoy of many members was truly unbelievable. And reading the comments and even typing this blog post, as a man of color himself, I couldn't help but shed tears over this amazing news. We as a people have come a long way, and the Jr. Nationals was a prime example of that.

If you were to have told me that this would happen, you would have been called crazy by yours truly.I'm no history buff and I'm no racist person by any means, but it seems like one group of individuals seem to get everything and it makes it hard on everyone else. If we were all meant to be the same, God would have made us all the same. But did he? NO! He made us all different, and I'm glad He did. Besides if everyone was exactly the same, life would be a bit boring, don't ya think?

These wins the ladies earned this past weekend are bigger than most realized, because it's showing that diversity is a GOOD thing. I wish we were at the point where race didn't matter, but sadly, we're far away from that. I'll admit, things have gotten a bit better over time, but we're far from that point, but we're getting closer and closer to that promise land. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by their character." While there are still those that judged from the outside rather than the inside (that's in life in general), it was evident that the figure winners at the Jr. Nationals were judged based on the outside AND inside.  Here's hoping their careers in the IFBB will go far.

Make no mistake, this was not a victory for ONLY black competitors, nor was it a just a historic moment for figure in general, or just an historic moment for the NPC and IFBB, but it was an important moment in American history, showing the aspiring competitors that you CAN accomplish your dreams despite the obstacles society throws at you. Throw it back at them with success. These six ladies did it, and this will hopefully inspire others who have doubted themselves (regardless of color) to take adversity head-on and thrive. On behalf of FitGems Nation and every single competitor that's ever stepped on stage, you gave a lot of us reason to believe again. Thanks for just stepping on stage and proving that you CAN make a difference. All you gotta go is make that first step, and the rest will follow. Gloria, Vicki, Tiffany, and Candice Lewis, welcome to the IFBB, ladies! You've earned it. Tambra and Chaya, your time is coming! Grab that pro card!.

To ALL six of you, and everyone reading this blog, keep on reaching for the stars. Move all obstacles out of your way, and shatter any glass ceilings you come across. I'll leave you with this quote from Arthur C.Clarke, "He only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible."


Melissa Cunningham said...

and yeah,check out the top 5 winners from the IFPA Pro bowl
last month....
diversity rocks!

Tymikia said...


Eryn Strickland said...

I thought the same thing as I checked RX Muscle that evening. First of all I was so thrilled for Gloria Keplinger whom I feel is the Susan Lucci of Figure LOL! She has been so deserving of her pro card and proved that you just keep pushing forward no matter how many "almosts" you have to endure. Congrats to all of my fellow figure sisters. Thanks Cray for this post and I echo that it is a good day to be an American figure competitor.

FITCHIQ said...

((((Chills))) This was absolutely beautiful and SPOT ON!