Have you given yourself time to truly reflect on the racism in this country? How about your own thought patterns that may not be completely positive? 2020 has turned into a year of reflection. With the additional time spent at home and alone, and the issues our world still faces, it would be a shame if we all didn’t grow at least some during this time.
Many are wanting this year to be behind us, but let’s not forget about the progress that often comes during challenges. As runners, we know growth doesn’t precede struggle, but this is true for our minds as well as our muscles.
Aaron and Joshua Potts are the voices behind the “2 Black Runners” podcast. They share their love for running and their perspective as black runners in a running world that is often overflowing with white runners. It is easy to fall in love with these two as they speak freely and passionately about what they love.
The Black Running Community
One of the first questions that Joshua and Aaron answered was, “Why are there fewer black runners?” Compared to many other sports, there is a very low representation of black athletes in long-distance running. Joshua and Aaron noticed this as they increased their distance and speed as they competed during middle school and high school.
As they thought about the question, Aaron and Joshua came up with several barriers and a few suggestions to attract more black athletes to long-distance running. One of the obvious issues with long-distance running is that it can be viewed as an elitist sport. For poor black Americans, running cannot be an attractive choice of sport because it doesn’t provide a monetary solution to their problems. Unlike football, basketball, and other popular sports, running doesn’t give multimillion-dollar contracts to its athletes. In that way, this type of running is a primarily white privilege.
Aaron and Joshua also suggest that an increase in black coaches and black runner influencers could bolster black runners. Joshua, who is now a collegiate runner, says that running in college was the first time he had a seen a black running coach since he was coached by his dad. More black coaches during a child or teenager’s life that are reaching out and letting them know about the sport could make a major difference.
When Aaron and Joshua grew up, they were influenced by their father to run because he knew it was a way for them to get scholarships. Running was a means for them to better their lives. Running doesn’t have to be an elitist or a sport only for white runners. In fact, it should be quite the opposite! How simple a sport it is, and yet we’ve allowed it to push away many potential runners.
On a broader scale, we can work to get 5Ks in black communities and put black runners on the covers of magazines. On a more personal level we can work to understand the barriers, and be supportive and inclusive of individuals. Something as simple as understanding how running affects someone with dreads, cornrows, or a weave can be important. These types of hairstyles take time, money, and are easily disturbed by exercise. Be aware. Be understanding.
What are Microaggressions?
There is a lot of learning and unlearning to be done by society, and you can help by doing so yourself and speaking up when you hear something inappropriate. Something that you can work to avoid and correct are microaggressions. Microaggressions are small statements that you may not perceive as offensive, but come off as such. They turn individuals into exhibits, and it’s something you should work to avoid.
Examples of microaggressions include statements like, “You’re not like our other black friends,” “Can I touch your hair?” or “I’m so happy to have a black roommate.” Simply, these statements are showing these people that you view them as objects or tokens, more than individuals.
How Do I Talk to a Black Runner?
Perhaps you want to be more inclusive towards black runners but are unsure how to go about it. According to Joshua and Aaron, it’s pretty simple, “Don’t be weird about it.”
You should talk to a black runner the same way you would talk to any runner. Talk to them because they are a runner, not because they are black. “Don’t think that you have to make that person your friend,” says Joshua, “Try to find something in common with them.”
In the end, be kind and work to unlearn some things, but don’t be overly worried about saying things that are wrong. We all make mistakes. Trying to be better is the best way to be better.
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Thank you to my wonderful sponsor Tracksmith and Taylormade for sponsoring this episode of the Running for Real Podcast.
Tracksmith is a Boston based running clothing company that truly cares about the quality and care of their running clothes. Running can be a demanding lifestyle for our clothes, they definitely go through the wear and tear to where we may be purchasing new clothes constantly. Tracksmith designers truly work with the finest materials and think of you as a runner in mind with spots for your keys, phone, and fuel.
Go here to check out their 100 days of Summer email campaign where they talk about anything and everything running.
If you are interested into looking at the Tracksmith Fellowship, where they want to highlight stories of the runners our there through their talents other than runner. Go here to see more information.
You can get $15 off your purchase of $75 or more, click here and enter code FORREAL15.
Taylormade Child and Family Services is the black owed business that is being highlighted this episode. I wanted to highlight Erica Tucker in all of the great work that she is doing for her community including Child & Adult Counseling, Family Counseling, Coping & Adjustments, Anger Management, Behavioral Modification, Depression, Anxiety, ADHD, Phase of Life Changes, and Relationship Issues. There are even one on one sessions and group sessions, and so much more, thank you Erica for all you are doing for your community and for this crazy time right now.
Go here to show her some support for being there for her community.
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Thank you to Aaron and Joshua, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.