By Jean Knaack, Executive Director
On June 1, the RRCA shared an important message from George Rehmet, RRCA President, in his letter to members, What is your Cause on Global Running Day? As George outlined, confronting racism is a huge undertaking, and we must further take steps to make running welcoming and safe for all, especially runners of color.
The RRCA is committed to confronting racism in our sport and organization, and we strive to become a fully inclusive, anti-racists, multicultural organization. While the RRCA has long required members to allow membership or participation in clubs and events without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, physical condition, or age, stating this does not always mean it is implemented as we would expect of members or within our own organization.
At the RRCA, we believe actions will be more impactful than white words on a black background that someone may scroll past on social media. As runners, it is part of our ethos to be goal oriented and to create steps to reach our goals.
Our first action-step has been to acknowledge the RRCA needs to invest time and resources into transformational change as an organization. Second action-step has been the development of a working group comprised of twenty men and women of color that are supporters of the RRCA along with RRCA staff and board representatives. Between June 11 and 17, the RRCA hosted two Zoom meetings with the working group. The goal of the initial Zoom discussions were to have RRCA leaders listen and learn from the working group members about their experiences, challenges, and frustrations, within the sport and running organizations they have engaged with. The Zoom discussions also highlighted action items, goals, and strategic objectives that can assist in transformational change of the RRCA.
The RRCA Board of Directors will meet in early July to begin work on recommended action items, opportunities for change, and to continue the efforts for updating the RRCA’s strategic plan. The working group will continue to have discussions throughout the summer and will expand to include Zoom discussions with LGTBQ+ runners. Through this work, the RRCA Board will engage in a critical examination of the bylaws, mission, vision, values, strategic plan, and operating procedures for the organization. Through our work, the RRCA will provide guidance and recommendations to help members engage in similar efforts with the goal of improving inclusion and outreach to runners of color in their local communities.
To use a running analogy, we are working with coaches to develop a meaningful plan to ensure that we can reach our goal. As George outlined in his June 1st letter, “hopefully, our actions in our sport will send a message to the larger American society that ALL people have the right to participate in activities without threat of harm or death (not just running).”
Resources to assist club leaders and event directors for improving inclusion and outreach: