Empty hand, clenched fist.

EGN INTERNATIONAL KARATE: SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN

In January 2020, we followed Elhadji Ndour, a world karate champion who runs a dojo in Harlem that teaches self-defense and self-empowerment to his predominantly Black students. It’s an inspiring story; one of his students who appears in our first video, Kadija, wants to grow up to be a “famous, Black, African-American woman to stand up and inspire the whole world.” (She will.) But we also knew that Black self-defense has historically been labeled radical. The Black Lives Matter movement has made that even more clear.

HARLEM'S KARATE KIDS

As a pandemic ravaged New York, the dogo had to close its doors.

Our second video was filmed in the midst of COVID-19 quarantine and Black Lives Matter protests and has a dramatically different tone. In the film, Elhadji’s dojo is empty. As he teaches his remaining students in nearby Morningside Park, he speaks to the responsibility and fear he feels in training them to defend themselves in a society that undervalues Black lives:

“How do I teach my students to be safe when Black people are being killed for no reason, when the police attack them, and the virus is allowed to ravage our neighborhood?”

ELHADJI NDOUR, EGN KARATE
THIS IS KARATE
Harlem's Karate Kids BTS

As with so many Black-owned businesses in the country, Elhadji was shut out of the government’s Paycheck Protection Program. 

 

As a young organization that strives to produce stories that challenge inequities and channel direct action, we commit to cultivating lasting relationships with BIPOC individuals and organizations who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and left out of government aid packages.