Racism and Running: Voices You Need to Hear

Since my last blog post, the world has erupted in response to the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis with Black Lives Matter protests in every state in the U.S. and in 18 other countries. I know this doesn’t directly seem running related but bear with me. After all, just recently Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down while out for a run. Black lives matter.

George Floyd
Ahmaud Arbery

In this internet age, information and other perspectives are at the literal tips of our fingers. As a white person, it’s my duty to educate myself on issues of systemic racism and racism in general rather than expect it to be explained to me by a BIPOC. It’s past time for others to do the work. Let me talk about what’s been going on where I am, and I promise I’ll get back to running by the end of this post. 

Note: There’s no way to briefly summarize all of the protests and demonstrations by a wide variety of groups in support of BLM in the past 10 days or so here, so I’m not going to even try. Use Google to see the day by day protest action.

In Louisville, Kentucky, protests against police brutality started on May 28th and originally focused on George Floyd as well as Breonna Taylor, a young woman who was shot in her apartment in Louisville on March 13th during a no-knock warrant. Their lives mattered. 

Justice for Breonna sign

Tragically, another name was added to the list here early in the morning on June 1st with the death of David McAtee, owner/operator of YaYa’s BBQ Shack and beloved by the community for his generosity and kindness. While on his business’ property preparing food, LMPD officers and National Guard shot him after breaking up a large gathering he was not a part of, another senseless death. His life mattered. 

David McAtee

Last night was the 11th straight day and night of protests and marches here. Both Breanna Taylor and David McAtee’s names, as well as George Floyd, have been shouted over and over. Jefferson Square has become a near constant protest site, lasting until after midnight each day and starting again the next morning. 

Right now, there is no end in sight as protestors are still marching for miles, almost 15 on the night of June 2nd alone, saying their names. The hot and humid days and even rain aren’t deterring protestors. More and more people get involved every day, bringing water and food, medical supplies, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, masks, and anything else needed.

Taylor and McAtee’s portraits have been painted and/or projected on buildings, and the University of Louisville honored Breanna Taylor, a healthcare worker with UofL Health, by announcing the Breonna Taylor Memorial Scholarship Fund in Nursing.

Projection of Jaylin Stewart’s “Say Her Name, See Her Face (Justice for Breonna Taylor)” on Metro Hall in Louisville, Kentucky on what would have been Taylor’s 27th birthday.
Mural of David McAtee at Fourth and Chestnut in Louisville, Kentucky.

Of course, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and David McAtee are sadly only four of so many, some whose names we do know and many we don’t, who have been victims of police brutality.

I don’t want to take too much space right now with my voice but did want to give a quick gloss of things in Louisville. Instead, I want to use my blog this week to promote other voices because Black lives matter.

Here is a list of some recent podcast episodes and articles to check out about diversity, race, and racism in the trail running world and beyond. 

Podcast Episodes

See four recent podcast episodes below on racism and diversity in running, particularly the trail and ultra running communities.

Ginger Runner Live #310 with Mirna Valerio

Ginger Runner Live #311 with Yassine Diboun
Southeastern Trail Runner Podcast #140
KoopCast #30

Articles

See the five articles below for points of view from BIPOC in the trail and ultra running community.

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Let’s work together to educate ourselves and help end systemic racism. Read, listen, watch, learn, talk to others with open minds, sign petitions, demonstrate, whatever you need to do to support BIPOC. Above all, and this is the most important, VOTE. You can’t change the system without changing the people within it. Put the work in.

Published by Sarah White-Thielmeier

Writer and college writing teacher who runs, a lot, offering writing services via blogging, copywriting, and content strategy.

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