Guest post: What NOT to do when Black Lives Matter stages a protest at your goal marathon

I’m reblogging this from Cheaper than Therapy because I feel it’s an important issue. I agree 100% with what Angry Runner has to say about the Black Lives Matter protest at the Twin Cities Marathon. 


You’re in for a real treat today. Angry Runner found herself (rightfully) horrified by some online commentary and she felt compelled to write up a proper tirade about it. Since she shut down her own blog, I offered her this venue. I could say some bullshit disclaimer about how her remarks do not necessarily reflect the opinions and viewpoints of […]

10 thoughts on “Guest post: What NOT to do when Black Lives Matter stages a protest at your goal marathon

  1. I will admit to still trying to sort out my feelings about this planned protest – all my thoughts and feelings are that it’s a bad idea, but I’m also trying to check my privilege/biases here and to incorporate some kind of historical context into my thinking – but man, I sure agree with the post you reblogged about the responses a lot of people have had to this. Like, way to prove their point.

  2. I agree with Caitlin on this. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around how I feel about this. I get both sides in some ways and I feel that a marathon is an odd place to stage a protest. I think that the opening line of The Spirit of the Marathon 2 is what comes to mind where is says something to the effect that the marathon is the single largest and most peaceful event in history. But then I read this blog and I am blown away by the things people can say.

    • I haven’t yet made a judgment on whether I think the Twin Cities Marathon is an effective place to hold a protest, but I understand BLM’s rationale for why they chose that location. BLM’s willingness to work with the race directors to allow the runners to finish will help keep the protest on the peaceful side.

  3. I haven’t even voiced an opinion on this, but this is probably part of the protest’s aim, to get people talking. Part of the problem of hugely publicized controversial topics like this, is that the voice of reason gets drowned out by the fringe element…and Angry Runner definitely highlighted the fringe. There was no voice of reason there. This is why I, and I think the majority of people, don’t even partake in political discussions – because finding a balanced publication/post/facebook status/etc that presents both sides doesn’t exist. So there’s no point to getting involved. Everyone always has to lump somebody under a right or left wing identity.

    The voice of reason is not one that argues against or for the protest – it’s the one asking where do we draw the line with these (ANY) protests? If it becomes a trend to interrupt marathons, where’s the next place where people will choose to “raise the bar”? Is it going to be storming a church? Somebody’s wedding? A graduation? A newborn baby in a hospital (yeah that may seem ridiculous now, but that’s my point)? Seriously, where do we draw the line? Or do you think that there’s no line, and if not, please share why?

    If it was me running the marathon, I’d probably DNS the race, look for another marathon, and partake in the protest while cheering on the runners, trying to inspire both sides to act peacefully. Whichever way you look at it, there’s a reason why Buddha, Jesus, and other peaceful influencer’s messages have been so profound: because violence and aggression never inspires! MLK understood that, and it’s not going to get better until we all understand that being inspirational is the best way for someone to adopt and support your message. There’s nothing inspirational about this hostile protest, or the hostile runners who are going to react.

    • You bring a good point on why it’s difficult to have political discussions when the opinions are so polarized. I think it’s even more important then to actually have these discussions in public so that the public knows that there are many varying nuanced views rather than the two most polarized ones.

      In general I’ve noticed that when people try to stage protests at events that are considered private (weddings, funerals, etc), those are quickly shut down and not supported, regardless of how one feels about the issue. Private personal events are not considered appropriate venues. Now there’s probably a gray area where if there were a mass public funeral for a political figure, where more people might think a peaceful protest would be tolerated, but I’m just speculating here.

      Protests are effective when they’re held in public places where people will notice and the place is symbolic for the issue. Not many people will care if they held it in a corn field. Occupy Wall St. Movement held their protest in downtown Wall St because the Wall St. represents the finance industry, despite the fact that most of the banking industry is located in Midtown.

      This is a complicated matter and there is no easy answer, which is why I think a civil public discussion is important.

  4. As a brit I only visited the States once. I had a friend in the catering trade and was working at Hilton Head Island, he was Egyptian by birth and it must have been about 95-96. The thing I noticed which completely did my head in was how casually racist so many people were without actually realizing it. I mean I am white and lived in London so I guess I am a little more multicultural, and I think the Carolinas qualify as being in the South, but it seemed to me that people who shared some of the views I heard would in the UK at least be aware that what they were saying could be viewed as racist. When it is ‘widely recognized’ that the only reason any black person is successful is because of positive discrimination there is something wrong.
    I don’t know about this protest, maybe right maybe not, but unless things have changed radically there is some huge issue that has not been dealt with, or even recognized by part of the population. If some people are so unaware then why not do anything you can to raise awareness and start the conversation, you sure can’t make things much worse than simply being ignored.

    • Hi Saul, thanks for writing your perspective. Casual/every day racism is a big unrecognized problem in the US because it’s been so normalized. If you do try to talk about it and bring up awareness, there’s push back that you’re too touchy and “too PC.” That said, I do think progress is slowly inching forward. For example, there’s far more acknowledgement about privilege now than there was in the 90s.

      The BLM protest at the Twin Cities Marathon went well according to the news and no runner was stopped. The leaders of BLM and the race organizers talked and figured out how to get both groups what they wanted.

      It feels like to me that people are starting to care about social issues (whatever their cause may be) more. There didn’t seem to be ask much talk and awareness about social causes in the 90s (then again, I was in high school so maybe there was but I was completely blind to it).

      • I think social media has changed things a great deal too. You and I for instance sitting on different sides of an ocean with completely different experiences having a conversation about an issue we both feel strongly about. I don’t think we have even begun to feel the full effects of the internet on culture yet. It took about 300 years for the impact of the printing press to really show up fully, not saying it will take that long but I think the changes to culture will be just as profound.

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