Last Friday night, I ran 2.23 miles on top of my scheduled 6 mile run. I ran in solidarity of #RunwithMaud. I did the 2.23 miles after my planned workout because pushing through tired legs is the way I honor Ahmaud doing what he loved to do most, run. Running has been a gift for me that allowed me to deal with frustrations of learning, school and life. As I explored running further it has become a passion of mine, and has given me the ability to connect to the world in unique ways. What happens when the thing you see as an outlet becomes a danger for others? One of the topics I talk most often about, is harmful for people of color. It leaves me conflicted to say the least, and this goes beyond the sport.
As a white person, I realize how privileged I am with the things I am able to do everyday without thinking twice. I read and follow a number of runners who talk about motivating themselves when they are tired, sore and struggle with getting out the door. And that struggle is definitely real. It takes dedication, commitment and perseverance to continue to work, and I believe that is true in any endeavor. What if on top of that was the fear of violence because of one’s skin color? This is a reality for people of color in their everyday lives, and it has been for ages. FEAR OF VIOLENCE due to SKIN COLOR.
It breaks my heart that it takes a tragedy like Ahmaud Arbery’s to surface this post. I think about LeDerick Horne who is a dyslexic advocate, runner, and black. What is his experience like? I believe we are in this together in solving conflicts when it comes to education and life in general, but to what degree of challenges does he deal with that go beyond my understanding? I want to listen intently and work towards equity, but to say I fully understand at this point would be foolish. I thought about Yassine Diboun who trained me for the World Marathon Challenge and ultra-running. He opened doors for me to travel on foot further than I could’ve imagined. When we would run together, I would be focusing on breath, form and working hard. What is Yassine concerned with on top of training aspects, that would never even cross my mind as a white person?
Thinking about how this applies beyond sports made me think about the numbers of student-athletes I have worked with at both the University of Southern California and University of Washington. I thought about how I wanted to support them in their endeavors, yet I have never been able to comprehend what they face on a daily basis. I reflected on groups like @Wordisbondpdx, @Booksnotbars who are working tirelessly on issues regarding social justice in the Oregon community.
This leaves me with more questions than answers. If I learned anything from this past weekend, it’s that the running community is showing up. Peter Bromka said “This isn’t a competition, a debate, or an argument. For many of us it’s a time to begin to engage and learn. As any runner knows, there’s meaning in beginning.”