This Run Club Pushes for Solidarity and Action—and You Can, Too

“Running is the tool to get folks together—meaningful discussions and actions is why we’re here.”

6/15/2021 9:06:00 PM

“Running is the tool to get folks together—meaningful discussions and actions is why we’re here.”

“Running is the tool to get folks together—meaningful discussions and actions is why we’re here.”

, runners are able to keep up with details on their monthly meetups.The club, founded by Shelby Rhodes, uses its platform to listen to and center the communities impacted by racism, while partnering with those who have been doing the groundbreaking work and know what resources could be transformative and beneficial to the health, wellness, and uplifting of these communities.

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This is done strategically through speakers, post-run group discussions or activities together, like writing letters to city officials, according to Bill Casher, a participant in the Anti-Racist Run Club.“The goal of all Anti-Racist Run Club events and gatherings is to educate,” Casher told

Runner’s World. “Each event has a topic which will challenge individuals to be introspective, check our own privilege, consider someone else’s experience, and live the change we seek in the world.”On its one-year anniversary, June 6, 2021, runners met in the Fillmore District, once more commonly known as the “Harlem of the West,” to reflect and continue their year-long efforts of using personal and collective platforms to support communities impacted by racism.

Through the pace the Anti-Racist Run Club has set, there are learning points and actionable items that can be applied in and out of the world of running.Don’t stop having important conversationsHitting the pavement monthly as a group gives runners the check-in and push to continue confronting racism while recognizing that participants in the group have had all different types of experiences. For Casher, allyship was a driving force for him.

“I joined the Anti-Racist Run Club at one of its initial runs,” Casher said. “It was not long after the death ofGeorge Floydand after having several very challenging conversations with my kids in our household. I wanted [to] bring them around people who were as passionate about social change as they were. I read that these runs were as much about the activity of running as it was about a follow-up discussion on how to be anti-racists, advocates, and change makers in our places of influence. I was excited for my kids to be around that energy and know that there is a diverse group of people who stand in solidarity with Black people—like us.”

The ability to intertwine conversations around timely matters throughout the year, like the importance of knowing ballots on both a local and national level during election season, is a principal component to the group.→Commit to advocacy long termReaching that seemingly unattainable

running paceor seeing your body gradually strengthen as it takes on new terrains and more miles can be empowering yet challenging, as are social movements. With a firm foundation and mission, the group’s ability to tackle their goals did not waver as San Francisco and the country faced the new realities of a

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pandemic.“As a new group forming during a pandemic, we moved with a lot of flexibility,” Ayako Sawanobori, participant in the Anti-Racist Run Club, toldRunner’s World. “Some months were on Zoom, some months were more engaging than others, and going forward I see us shifting as needed.”

Related StoryWith the foundation of community advocacy already existing, runners continued to find ways to collectively meet and make plans, whether that was virtually or in-person.“For theRun for Breonnamonth, we handwrote postcards demanding that all the officers be fired and charged, and that no-knock warrants are banned nationwide. For our main #stopasianhate run, we did a Japantown cleanup and patronized local businesses as a way for us to ensure that it’s a clean, safe, and thriving place. Anti-racist action can be a lot of things—as long as it’s an authentic commitment and not just performative,” Sawanobori said.

Tony DiPasqualeCenter the voices of underrepresented people“There is nothing more encouraging for someone like myself—BIPOC, Filipino, a minority—than organizing with a white person that has the passion and desire for social change like Shelby [Rhodes],” Casher said. “Her willingness to center the voices of underrepresented people, yet be active and organize with the enthusiasm in which she does, is at the core of being anti-racist.”

There has been intentionality in inviting partners and speakers to facilitate discussions, including the leadership teams of Running to Protest (the group that the Anti-Racist Run Club was initially inspired by) and Bounce Bay Area, to discuss topics, including why it’s crucial to create spaces where activities, like running and exercise, are accessible and welcoming for everyone.

“As a runner, an immigrant, and a woman of color, I was really inspired to see the community come together with the commitment to push for change. In the past few months, I’ve been an advisor in some capacity, and organized and led the three solidarity runs for the

AAPI[Asian American and Pacific Islander] community,” Sawanobori said. Read more: Runner's World »

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