Jogging Has Always Excluded Black PeopleRoundup
tags: racism, Fitness, Jogging
Natalia Mehlman Petrzela is an associate professor of history at the New School and is working on a book on fitness culture in the United States.
Free! Easy! Relaxing! That’s how jogging was marketed in the late 1960s, when the idea of heading out on a regular run was unfamiliar to most Americans. Unlike other physical fitness programs that required heavy, expensive gear, jogging was accessible to all, boosters claimed.
But history shows how untrue that is, and how long the sport of running has maintained this fiction.
When video surfaced of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, the young black jogger gunned down in South Georgia, distance runners became a new voice among the usual chorus of social justice activists who grimly parse such tragedies. But among runners, reactions largely differed by one important factor: race.
Black runners recounted their own routines, intended to deflect the sort of suspicions that turned deadly for Mr. Arbery: steering clear of certain neighborhoods, going out only in daylight, wearing an Ivy League sweatshirt to broadcast respectability. Many white runners, by contrast, were aghast that the sense of peace they feel when hitting the open road reflected their racial privilege.
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