Running “for Maud” is not enough. Most of us, especially runners, probably would’ve gone for a jog anyway. As a white person, I was safe, I was fine, I posted about it, I cried, I got likes.
But did I sign the petition? Then ask my friends to do the same?
But did I call officials, including the judge, district attorney, and attorney general offices, as prompted by the Grassroots Law Center, to demand they press charges against the accomplice, release the police officer camera footage, bring in a special prosecutor, and try this as a hate crime? Will I keep following this case?
Did I donate to the NAACP? To the GoFundMe for Arbery’s family? To Color of Change? Sign up on Patreon to support the women, including Alison Désir and Rachel Cargle, who speak up and out and educate about these issues?
Did we look up “antiracism”? Did we read? Did we register to vote?
What steps did—and will—we (white people) take to actually affect change? And, no, I’m not talking about just changing our mood and fitness. As educator and organizer ShiShi Rose pointed out, running “for Maud” is performative. And, honestly, it felt wildly insufficient.
BECAUSE IT IS.
As Cleo Wade writes in her book Where To Begin, “We cannot overcome what we ignore.” Well, if IG is any indicator of what runners are focused on, we’re not ignoring #IRunWithMaud. But what substance does a hashtag carry?
“Thoughts & prayers.” “In solidarity.” “To honor.” How do words overcome grave inequities?
How do we make those words less hollow, less lacking? By taking responsibility. By using our privilege and power. By knowing we do not deserve praise for taking action; by knowing discomfort doesn’t render us martyrs.
Look, I’m no expert. I’ve got lots to learn. But I am calling all white people—especially runners, including myself—to action.
I don’t yet know where the finish line is but we are standing on the start line. Here are steps I’m taking as I commit to anti-racism:
1. See actions above.
2. Educate myself about the history of racism and white supremacy in the U.S., plus anti-racism and social justice, starting with this reading list:
Ahmaud Arbery and Whiteness in the Running World, by Alison Mariella Désir
Run For It, by Tianna Bartoletta
Running While Black, by Allison Joseph
We’re Here. You Just Don’t See Us, by Latria Graham
Racial Justice Research Document, by Rachel Cargle
More Than A Run of Solidarity, by Gavin V. Smith
So You Want To Talk About Race, by Ijeoumo Oluo
White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo
Me and White Supremacy, by Lalya Saad
3. Plus the following, as Robin DiAngelo suggests in her book What Does It Mean To Be White?
- Challenging (and filtering) misinformation online
- Calling out racism in real life
- Being willing to not know (and to make mistakes)
- Have conversations, however uncomfortable, with other white people about our internalized superiority and racial privilege
4. As a writer, expand my network of sources. Fight for contextual paragraphs about racial injustice and inequity. Think more critically about my pitches and stories using the lenses of antiracism and social justice. Challenge my assumptions and bias. Support and share the work of black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).
What steps are you taking? Share other actions in the comments, and I’ll update this post as we go.