After reading responses to the planned Black Lives Matter protest at the Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday (“Marathon protest plan fuels fears for runners,” Sept. 30) what I think is ironic is that a whole bunch of rich, white people are angry about a black protest urging social change.
I think we all need to look at this at a higher level. It doesn’t need to be about police brutality, but about how society as a whole is set up to keep a group of people marginalized. Race participants protesting the protest are privileged to just be competing in such an event. As a marathon runner myself, I began to reflect on the demographics of any race I’ve ever participated in. The events are predominantly white. In fact, when researching the issue, I discovered that only 1.6 percent of all marathon runners are African-American. I also discovered that the typical marathon runner earns about $75,000 a year.
African-Americans make up 13 percent of Americans, so why isn’t the number of black marathoners comparable? Is it because black people don’t want to run? I don’t think so. If you visit the urban neighborhoods that see much of the police brutality that Black Lives Matter is protesting, you don’t see many people out for a jog. Lack of a safe space for exercise is a strong barrier. I also think that economic barriers might be a factor. Twenty-seven percent of African-Americans live in poverty.
The cost of registration for the Twin Cities Marathon alone is $165, not to mention the hundreds of dollars that the typical marathoner spends on running gear. With the high rate of poverty in urban communities, I think that lack of time for vigorous exercise also plays a part. For this demographic, earning an income and taking care of their children (the rate of single motherhood for African-Americans soars way higher than that of any other demographic) is much more important than hours and hours of exercise.
Ultimately, what’s more important — your six months of rigorous training, or fighting for justice for a group of Americans enduring a lifetime of oppression? Why can’t we all just “run” together?
Gin Eckert, Minneapolis
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As a former Black Lives Matter supporter, I’ve removed my lawn sign because the original intent of protest against police brutality and the killing of unarmed blacks has taken a twist that includes disruption of people’s freedom and constructive causes that support healthy choices for all. It’s unfortunate that Black Lives Matter has made a big mistake and gone beyond its original intent. The backlash will hurt its cause and the black lives it has wanted to help.
Carol Cochran, Minneapolis
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Your house is on fire. You snatch your phone to dial 911. In that moment, do you stop yourself, pausing to consider whether you might interrupt a firefighter’s dinner? Do you hang up, realizing fire trucks will block traffic, causing an inconvenience to your neighbors?
The Black Lives Matter movement is working to build and sustain a shared sense of urgency, because many of us have yet to seriously contemplate what is at stake. The Twin Cities Marathon celebrates individual perseverance and achievement, and it is a thrill to share the runners’ triumph. What better place to bring the message that we are inextricably bound together, both in our triumph and our suffering?
Laura Lassor, Minneapolis
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During the Who’s performance at Woodstock, Abbie Hoffman jumped onstage and commandeered a microphone to rally the crowd to the cause of activist John Sinclair. Guitarist Pete Townshend, in a different context, no doubt would have been entirely sympathetic to the issue. Instead, Townshend bashed Hoffman over the head with his guitar, sending him hobbling off, humiliated by the blow to both his noggin and credibility.
Rashad Turner says that threats of runner retaliation against Black Lives Matter demonstrators at the marathon is further evidence of how little white America values blacks’ lives. Don’t kid yourself, friend. I and 11,500 of my fellow runners, and hundreds of thousands of volunteers and spectators (probably about the size of the Woodstock crowd), will be on our stage Sunday. And I, for one, have trained too hard to let some huckster cavalierly and thoughtlessly destroy my performance and the reputation of a fantastic inclusive event that so many people have spent so many years building to make our community proud and stronger.
Kevin Alldredge, St. Paul
It’s better not to judge people who face an agonizing decision
I feel compelled to respond to the Sept. 30 letter “Even a child who will die at birth deserves birth” because of its cruelty toward women and families who have had to make an incredibly difficult decision. As a family physician, I walk this path with patients and families every few years, and each time the decisionmaking is infused with both pain and love. I’ve had patients decide both ways, and the families decide almost exclusively by what they feel is the right answer for that baby. The ones who decide to end their pregnancy do so to prevent the suffering of that child and do not feel that “the loss of an unborn baby is of little consequence.” The families and women who have walked this road, whether to a spontaneous delivery, to a stillbirth or to a chosen early delivery, have been forced by circumstance to become some of the most courageous people I have ever had the honor to know.
To all of those women and families, I want to express that most of us in this community do not stand in judgment of you, but stand with you in support of the decision you found right for you, your baby and your family.
Dr. Robin Councilman, Minneapolis
An alternative to Sack’s cynicism about the Republican field
Regarding the GOP candidate pool, I envision the two gentlemen in Steve Sack’s most recent editorial cartoon (“I liked the anti-gay guy, then the anti-Mexican guy, but now I’m giving the anti-Muslim guy a serious look”) having this exchange instead: “I liked the Hispanic guy, then the woman, but now I’m giving the African-American guy a serious look.”
Ryan Sheahan, Minneapolis
Editorial about quality law backfiring was itself a misfire
The Sept. 30 editorial “Condo law backfires on housing options” deserves a reply from someone in a condo now suing the builder. Our building has several defects, including all-brick exterior facing that is falling off and decks that slant toward the building, so that eventually the door to the deck can’t open. None of these defects are due to poor maintenance. And it took nearly 10 years for these defects to fully develop and cause damage, so we are thankful for the Minnesota law described in the editorial.
It was the builder that brought into the suit all the subcontractors and the architect, not us. And we did get a majority of owners to agree to the suit; it was not some rogue board of directors. So the broad brush used in the editorial is misleading. I would claim the reason for the lack of new condos was a housing recession that still exists.
Cameron Murray, Stillwater