Like many around the world, the three of us behind Vert.run have been outraged by–and then looked very much inward after–the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, who are just three names in an endless list of Black lives lost to white supremacy.
For those of us who are non-Black runners, we’ve got a lot of work to do. Right now, it is time to: 1.) listen with intention, 2.) use our platforms to elevate the voices of Black runners, especially in the running and trail running world, and 3.) to make a long-term plan of action for how we will become real, lifelong allies moving forward.
This list-in-progress is entirely meant to further strengthen the Black voices in our trail and running communities who have already been saying these things for their whole lives, and is by no means comprehensive. We have been learning a lot from the words of these Black athletes and individuals the past weeks, and especially these past days, and donating to each place that we’ve learned from. (Also, these are just run-specific suggestions. For some bigger-picture, concrete actions please read Rozalynn S. Frazier’s piece, the first on the list below.)
Systemic and personal change–not just calling out overt racist acts, but constantly calling out and then working to change the covert racism within ourselves, our communities, our running clubs, etc.–must not be a sprint. It must not go away in a day, or a week. It must be a lifelong ultramarathon, and will require constant, real work.
Below are a few good places to start, about which we have learned from Black voices in the running and trail community.
A final thought: these Black runners and outdoor people are providing tremendous value and resources. This work is being done for free, and is work that should not fall on their shoulders in the first place. Consider compensating these fine people, organizations and athletes for the value and learning they’re putting into the community by supporting them directly (for example, on Patreon), by purchasing the books and material they’ve created, and/or supporting their organizations.
You can read:
- Rozalynn S. Frazier’s piece: “How to be an Ally to the Black Running Community”—at the end of this piece, Rozalynn has included a detailed, comprehensive list of how you can take meaningful action, especially outside the running community
- Executive Director Tony Reed’s piece “Running While Black – The National Black Marathoners Association’s Response” (this is really informative, and explains why donating to the association is impactful)
- Alison M. Desir’s piece: “Ahmaud Arbery and Whiteness in the Running World”
- Joe Gray’s piece on “No Change in Silence”
- Start reading the Black Girls Adventure Blog
- Marielle Hall’s piece: “Racing to Stay Alive”
- Joe Gray’s piece about diversity in running
- The talk that Amir Figueroa (a leader of Harlem Run), Rahsaan Rogers (the founder of Resident Runners) and Matt Green (the founder of District Running Collective) had about representation in the run community
- “Equal Footing,” a Runner’s World article from back in 2008 where Tony Reed (Executive Director of the National Black Marathoners Association) outlines why he founded the association, and offers some concrete ideas of how to effect change
You can listen to/watch:
- Keeping Track Media’s latest podcast with Alison Désir, on race in the running world.
- The podcast “2 Black Runners,” especially their most recent episode about the running community’s response to racial injustice.
- The Instagram Live version of the talk that Rahsaan Rogers, Matt Green, and Amir Figueroa hosted with Under Armour this week
You can virtually attend:
- The “Meaning Thru Movement” Tour created by Alison M. Désir, which is a free series of online events that aim to bring the conversation about mental health into the running space (the next event is June 20th and is called “Let’s Talk About Whiteness.”)
- The fireside chat (Sunday, August 9th), also a part of the Meaning Thru Movement tour, that Alison M. Désir will be hosting with Dr. Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility. (Tickets are $10, and you can also “pay it forward” by buying your ticket for $20 so that someone else can have the opportunity to attend for free).
Join us on our first small step towards lasting work:
Starting now, each month, we will be–and invite you to, too–donating to a different organization led by or that supports Black runners based on how many miles we run each month. You can give what you can, but a good place to start is by donating anywhere between 10 cents and 1 dollar for each mile you run during the month.
Want to join us? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us you want in. We’ll email you at the end of each month with a reminder and direct link to each organization’s page to donate.
- June 2020: Black Men Run
- July 2020: Black Girls Run
- August 2020: The National Black Marathoners Association
- September 2020: Melanin Base Camp
- October 2020: Black Running Organization
- November 2020: WeRun313
- December 2020: South Fulton Running Partners