Thank you and goodbye from Carmen Van Kerckhove

by Carmen Van Kerckhove
Cross-posted on Racialicious, Love Isn’t Enough, Addicted to Race, and CarmenVanKerckhove.com

This post probably won’t come as a huge surprise — I know many people have noticed how quiet I’ve been over the last few months.

I want to let you know that I’ve decided to “retire” from work on race and diversity. Instead, I’m going to focus full-time on working with my husband Serge on Urban Martial Arts, our karate school in Brooklyn.

Why have I decided to change course? Well, it took me a long time to admit this to myself, but the truth is that I’m just not as passionate and driven about race work as I used to be.

Before, when I heard about something race-related, I’d get fired up and couldn’t wait to blog/speak/evangelize about it. But over the last year, blogging has felt like more of an obligation than a passion. And it’s just not fair to you if I keep phoning it in.

Besides, I’ve always been a big believer that you need to know when to move on and make room for the next generation. There’s nothing I would hate more than to become that cranky older activist telling the young’uns to shut up and show some goddamn respect. :D

People who are close to me know that I’ve always been just as interested in marketing and entrepreneurship, as I have been in race. And lately, my interest in business has been peaking as my interest in race work has been dying down.

Serge and I started Urban Martial Arts, our Brooklyn karate school, two years ago, and it’s been such a great journey. We work together shockingly well (hey, we were nervous about how it would be to work AND live together!), and running a local small business poses a never-ending series of enjoyable intellectual challenges for us.

Plus, I can’t even begin to tell you how rewarding it is to run a business that brings such positive change to our community: not only changes in our students’ physical well-being, but also seeing how martial arts is helping to strengthen them mentally and emotionally.

Serge is the martial artist in the family, not me, so I’ve never had a chance before now to see how life-transforming martial arts really can be. Kinda makes me wish I’d done karate as a kid instead of kidding myself that I was ever gonna be a ballerina. (If you’ve ever witnessed how terrible my posture is, you’ll know that the ballet tuition was quite a waste of money. LOL!)

It’s also been really cool to see what a diverse community we’ve created. We’re in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood called Ditmas Park. The school’s location happens to be at an intersection between a bunch of different ethnic/religious communities — West Indian, South Asian, Orthodox Jewish, North African, Middle Eastern, Eastern European, just to name a few — and we have students represented from all those backgrounds and more.

(Oh, funnily enough, the school is literally around the corner from this daycare center. When I saw that post go up, I had a total case of “the worlds are colliding!”)

It’s also been fun for me to take what I stumbled into learning about social media and try to adapt it for business purposes. We just relaunched our web site, which has — wait for it — a blog! That’s right, I’m still blogging, though now it’s about health and nutrition, and the goings on at the school.

I’m also trying to figure out what the best strategy is with our Facebook page and Twitter account. I’m tinkering, trying out some different things, but if any of you have suggestions, I’d love to hear them! Hit me up at carmen AT urbandojo.com. And of course, if any of you live in or near Ditmas Park and want to try classes, holla!

So anyway, the point is: I’m really excited about this new direction I’m heading in!

And because there are so many amazing people who are doing great work in the race/diversity space, I feel that I can walk away without regret, and with confidence that people are going to continue the struggle against racism.

So what’s going to happen to the various places where you keep up with me and my colleagues? Here’s a rundown…

I’ve started a new Facebook account under my married name for personal and karate purposes. Feel free to friend me there, but please understand that I’m only going to accept your friend request if I know you personally in some way, so don’t be offended if I don’t respond!

Tami tells me that Julia, a Love Isn’t Enough contributor and ardent supporter will be joining her as co-editor, and they are assembling an editorial team to move the site forward. Some of the same voices our readers have come to appreciate will still be around, plus some new ones.

While they work out technical stuff and marshal their forces, Love Isn’t Enough will be on hiatus. They will return the week of June 14. In the meantime, they will post an open thread and encourage readers to share any suggestions for the future.

Latoya also has a lot of exciting plans for Racialicious, and Addicted to Race, but she’ll reveal those to you in due course. :)

Ok, so here’s where my emotionally stunted self is going to try and let myself get a bit mushy.

Thank you so much for the support you’ve shown me over the last eight years. Every person who has ever subscribed to our email newsletter, subscribed to our podcast, commented on our blogs, told a friend about us, came to watch me speak, emailed me encouraging words, interviewed me for an article or show, signed up for a teleseminar or program, linked to our blog — every single one of those actions helped create this vibrant network of communities you see here today.

I’m really proud of the work I’ve done over the years, and I’m so grateful for the amazing opportunities that have come my way, and the great friends and colleagues I’ve met.

I hope that you will continue to support Racialicious, Addicted to Race, and Love Isn’t Enough after I’m gone, because Latoya and Tami have some great things in store for you.

Thank you for letting me into your life.

With gratitude,

Carmen Van Kerckhove

PS: Let me leave you with one last gift…