In this time of protest against the death of George Floyd and so many others, I am looking for ways I can be a better ally in the fight against racism. The death of Ahmaud Arbery haunts me in particular because he was a runner and part of the community I serve.
I’ve been aware for some time that virtually all of the stock photos of runners on my website are white. It’s a problem that’s been difficult to solve, because when I write a blog post, I look through stock photos for an image of a runner illustrating the specific issue I wrote about. Finding a clear, relevant image can take me 60-90 minutes–often longer than the writing took. And nearly always that image turns out to be of a white runner because the vast majority of the runner images on stock photo websites are white.
It’s been frustrating but I’ve felt there was little I could do about it, other than keep an eye out for images of nonwhite runners and choose them whenever possible.
The result is that my blog perpetuates the image of recreational runners as exclusively white. And that’s on me.
It’s painful to realize that this blog which I publish to help all runners access the joy of running has actually contributed to an environment that makes running less open and more dangerous for black and brown runners. I will find a way to do better.
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Jae Gruenke, GCFP, is a running technique expert and Feldenkrais Practitioner. Known as a “running form guru,” she is the Founder and CEO of The Balanced Runner™ in New York City and The Balanced Runner UK. She has helped runners from beginner to Olympian improve their form to become pain-free, economical, and fast.