A conversation with Alison Désir
This is wonderful. Alison could be talking about the outdoor/hiking industrial complex too, line for line (and so many others too). This particular quote grabbed me as well:
"There’s also, of course, a large segment of people who are still in their feelings about it: working through what feels like a personal attack and haven’t yet come out the other side. I’m okay with that too."
Writing about Indigenous issues and being challenging at times, you can imagine I get this a lot. I get so many "not all white people"-type responses, usually only via email. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but at the same time, why should I? That centering of self in a larger issue is a problem. And why give a benefit of the doubt when over 50% of white people – overwhelmingly men but also women – have been vigorously voting for Trump and his ilk? So when faced with those stats, any person I meet who is white has a greater than 50/50 chance of being someone who is opposed to everything I care about. Damn right I'm going to be on guard!
I want to thank Alison for her rec's and for giving me yet another reason not to run Boston. I promise, though, to resist the temptation to virtue-signal when telling people why I'm not going to run the BM and just stick to, "You know, Boston's not all that!"
Thank you Alison for opening my eyes to yet another thing I hadn’t considered. And thank you, Anne Helen, for the wise words of the day...’’Privilege, in so many instances, is expressed as an absence, a negative space: the fact that you never had to think about something at all.’’
What a great interview. Thank you, Alison! This was definitely running through my brain with the BM question: "putting into words what they have felt but could not put their finger on."
Also, I'm so excited to hear about Out & Back! I will be watching it when it comes out. I really enjoyed Baratunde Thurston's show in how it tackled some of these topics with regard to travel, so I'm glad to know PBS is pursuing more content like this.
Slamming newsletter today, thank you so much for the interview with Alison Désir. A friend who used to be a competitive swimmer has told me about the racism behind American swimming as a white sport. As a non-sporty type, it had not occurred to me that running is also deeply affected by white supremacy. Which is to say, apparently every damn thing is. It's about time white people like me understand that. Huge thanks to Alison Désir for her service to the community at large.
Typo: he was out for a jog not job. I knew what you meant but the job part threw me as it brought up thoughts other biases around employment discrimination
Great piece! For folks interested, Ted Corbitt’s son maintains a website on black American distance running history https://tedcorbitt.com/running-history-milestones/
Thanks for this! I don't run because sports bras won't let me be great. But I'm an avid biker and walker in a very brown and female body, and Alison's running experiences definitely ring a familiar bell. I'm proud of my city's Bicycle Coalition in particular for its day in, day out work expanding the view of what a bicyclist looks like to include everyone. I'm next in queue for Alison's book at the library, and can't wait to read it.
This interview is challenging for my next book about older Americans and individualism. Is Individualism essentially white/Eurasian and therefore likely to weaken as an organizing principle in America as people of color become the majority? The exclusivity of marathons that require elite performance levels to enter is one of many forms of individualism that unintentionally exclude...if you think about what it takes to train for a Marathon, it requires a very accommodating family OR the money to live on your own thereby making it easy to train so much. Triathlons are even more like this...
Thank you for the great interview with Alison. New subscriber here and I’m so impressed by both the depth and breadth of the newsletter.
Thank you Alison and Anne.