The Balanced Runner Will Do Better

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.

7 thoughts on “The Balanced Runner Will Do Better”

  1. Thank you Jae. This has been a great reminder for all of us. I am in Australia where systemic racism goes under the radar. We often don’t see where we are part of the making of it and how white privilege is maintained. I’ve been enjoying your blogs and after my 13 year old daughter broke her arm during her triathlon training I have introduced them to her to help her during her convalescence. Your work is highly appreciated.

  2. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It is great that you wish to find more “non white” photos. However not using black runners is not racism. You will need to find gay, Chinese, Indian, Red headed runners to be all inclusive! Maybe I don’t see it because when I see a runner – the colour doesn’t matter- I see a runner! Same as a picture of a parent with theirs children. They have no colour. Anyways I’ll be looking at the great photos you choose
    Stay safe

  3. Thank you Jae for your honesty and commitment to reflect on these issues. I have been really enjoying your videos during lockdown and I think what’s obvious is not only your passion for running but also your love for humanity and the connection you want to have with your fellow human beings. Keep up that connection.

  4. Dear Jae

    All change starts with a realization. This is very thoughtful of you and the actions that would follow will surely benefit all runners around the globe in all diversity.
    Thank you for taking action and being the change.
    All kudos to you !!

    • Thanks very much, Nauman. Part of the realization is about my responsibility. It’s an encouraging realization, it means there’s something I can *do*!

  5. Thanks for highlighting this issue. Living in the second whitest state this really hadn’t occurred to me, but will from now on!

    Suggestion: for finding runners of color try “runners south Africa” or specific countries in the African continent. It might reduce the time.


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