When my older sister lived in Lakewood, Colorado, I passed a sign on the way to her house as I sped down Highway 6. "Welcome. We are building an inclusive community."
That sign always made me feel like all is right in the world: I pictured neighbors sharing lawn mowers; schools creating a space for all kinds of kids; town council meetings where everybody is respected and decisions are consensual. (Yes, I own my naivety—but I do love that sign.)
As we all know, all is not right in the world. Running used to be a way to escape from that fact. We can no longer afford to do that.
Pandemic aside, the past year has been a raw one. Uglier parts of our culture, like systemic racism and race-based injustice, are right in front of us, despite decades of trying to sweep them under the rug. Also coming into the forefront and deserving of attention: recognition of gender fluidity; body positivity (or at least neutrality); an emerging redefinition of family; and the mental health crisis, particularly acute in youth.
Sarah and I have always envisioned Another Mother Runner as an inclusive community: A place where any female can come, connect with other active women, grab some inspiration, a laugh and perhaps a gentle push out the door. That said, we realize come at it from our shared white, cis-gender, maternal (and vertically blessed) perspective.
Through ongoing work with a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) expert, we have realized that our definition of inclusion, while well-meaning, needs to be blown out significantly. "Who benefits from your actions?," our DEI consultant asked us, "Who is left out of your actions? Who is not even at the table?" (And then she reminded us that being uncomfortable means you're doing the right thing.)
One of the most appealing things about running is virtually everybody should have a seat at the table—participants sometimes need to be asked to pull up a proverbial chair, though.
The simple movement can be accessible to most of us, and it has the potential to connect us deeply. At a race, total strangers share a couple miles, become friends, and hug at the finish line. On Instagram, a beginning, unsure runner sees a post from somebody who doesn't look like a typical runner, and feels validated. Through DM's, the two become training partners.
Building on the bonds running creates, we are committed to making AMR a truly inclusive community, and our first step is a call for more diverse voices. Our goal is to have our website and podcasts include perspectives of all stripes of runners: LGBTQIA+, Indigenous, people of color, size diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.
We're looking for writers and/or podcast guests who are interested in sharing their perspectives; please fill out this form—and send it to anybody who you think would be a good match. (And you can also always reach us at [email protected].)
Yes, we've got more than a few miles ahead of us, but we're runners. We recognize that stepping out of our comfort zone is the path to growth, and the best way to get there is one step at a time.