We can do better. I can do better.
America, 2020: Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old unarmed black man in Georgia, was murdered in late February by two white men because of the color of his skin while out on a run. It took until two Thursdays ago for criminal charges to be pressed and it will be a long time, if ever, that justice is served in this case.
But justice for Ahmaud Arbery isn’t the only important thing that needs to emerge from this story. We, as white members of the running community in the U.S., need to do a better job, as Alison Desir writes for Outside, of cultivating “a white identity that is separate from white supremacy—that means committing to antiracism and social justice.” We need to do a better job of learning about the history of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, the injustices they’ve faced and continue to face, and the anxieties they experience, while also understanding our own privilege and using it to raise awareness, promote equality, cultivate more inclusiveness, and better do our part to help close the longstanding racial divide that exists in America as a whole.
I, through my work, need to do a better job of giving a voice to those who haven’t been provided the opportunity to speak, of asking the important questions that might make me and many of my listeners uncomfortable, so we can better understand a point of view that isn’t consistent with our own. I need to do a better job of elevating the stories of the underrepresented people in running, of which there are many. As a coach and leader in my backyard community, I need to do a better job of helping knock down whatever walls might exist so that no one has to run in fear or think twice when they lace up their shoes.
We can talk about how outraged we are or post about it all we want, but at the end of the day we’ve got to be about it: in our online communities and in our actual communities too. Running 2.23 miles for Ahmaud two Fridays ago and feeling good about it isn’t enough, but it’s a start. Collectively and individually, we need to keep taking action so that any and every runner can feel safe when they’re out putting in the miles, regardless of the color of their skin.