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What we read: May 29, 2020

We can’t begin any discussion of the last week in the news without an acknowledgement of the persistent violence against Black persons in America. If it wasn’t clear already, tagging one’s runs with #irunformaud clearly wasn’t enough to lead to meaningful change and a reduction in violence against Black persons. Simply firing the four police officers who were involved in the death of George Floyd fails to acknowledge the systemic racism that led the police officers to believe that their behavior was okay, that a Black life didn’t matter. Similarly, firing the woman who called the cops claiming that a Black man was threatening her in response to his request that he leash her dog is appropriate, but also still not enough. In order for this to stop, we have to acknowledge that racism isn’t an individual problem where a few bad apples are making things hard for Black people everywhere. Racism is a systemic problem where racist ideologies have been allowed to persist in structures like the law, criminal justice education, and police training. This might require changes in every aspect of society, implicit bias training, and a constant reminder that #BLACKLIVESMATTER. And in the interim, we have to be better allies.

Relatedly, this interview at High Country News with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz about the context of violence and whose violence is allowed is an important read. It is timely, especially as we see protests against police violence in Minneapolis. What will the police response be?

The article I appreciated perhaps the most this week was from Jack Gray, who spoke to women about their experiences and then shared about how men could become allies. Allies are incredibly important, both for women and for supporting Black people and communities. We need more of both.

Speaking of being an ally, I like this piece on being a #THINALLY from Fit is a Feminist Issue. While I agree that Trump is reprehensible, it isn’t because of his weight. There are plenty of things to say about what Trump is doing and has done wrong, and his weight simply isn’t one of them.

My first take on Alexandra Lev’s piece on how women should protect themselves on the Trail was frustration – after all, women wouldn’t have to protect themselves if men stopped attacking them. Full stop. But, I did think the second half of her article provided helpful reminders and tips, specifically reminding women that they have no obligation whatsoever to smile at strangers and be nice. Yes, we shouldn’t have to do any of these things, because men should stop attacking women. But, in the world we live in, we should also be empowered to get outdoors, and any tips that keep us from further restraining ourselves is important.

In a similar vein, Women’s Running posted an article about how one can protect themselves from a stray dog. As one who had to run an extra five miles once to avoid coming in contact with an aggressive stray dog, I found these tips incredibly helpful.

BoxRox posted about how CrossFit promotes a more positive body image for women, and I agree. Hear me out on this one. I’m not saying CrossFit is perfect, and naming workouts after women and the derogatory way those workouts are talked about is not exactly a feminist win. But promoting images of women as strong with bodies that contradict the skinny norm that perpetuates marketing and the fashion industry is a good thing. Personally, one of the things that helped me to move away from the thin=beautiful mindset was watching CrossFit competitions and doing CrossFit workouts. The change was twofold- seeing the images shifted my ideal mindset and getting stronger helped me to see how amazing being strong could feel.

In the as of yet ever evolving story of sexual assault, rape, and harassment in Hollywood, the most recent case involves the director of photography for Criminal Minds who was allowed to persist for 14 seasons. Like, seriously, come on. There seems to be this assumption about men, most often white men, that they are “the only ones” with that talent and skill, and so inappropriate behavior and outright crimes are allowed to persist just to allow these men to keep working. This reminds me, a bit, of the current situation with the presumptive democratic US presidential nominee, where a common rhetoric in liberal circles is that “we have to deal with what we’ve got” in response to allegations of sexual assault and verified outright racism. That’s not true with the presidential election, and it’s not true in any case. Perhaps if and when those men are removed or step down, that will provide opportunities for women and persons of color to step in and demonstrate not just that they are beyond competent, but also that they can push the field forward in ways we can’t even imagine. Just imagine.

Finally, add Sex Matters to your reading list. In it, author Alyson McGregor explains how doctors are unintentionally harming women by practicing a model of medicine based on men. She also discusses how diseases present differently in women, which is needed reading for all medical professionals and women alike. That knowledge could literally save your life.

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