Which Is More Racist—Hiking or Jogging?

Last week we noted that hiking is now considered tainted by historical racism. Hiking. On mountain trails. Well move over you racist hikers. Make room for racist . . . (checks notes) joggers! Because jogging is racist, too.

Jogging Has Always Excluded Black People,” Natalia Mehlman Petrzela tells us in the New York Times:

Running has been a pastime marketed primarily to white people ever since “the jogging craze” was born in the lily-white Oregon track and field world of the late 1960s. Black people have not only been excluded from the sport — one survey by Running USA found under 10 percent of frequent runners identify as African-American — they’ve also been relentlessly depicted as a threat to legitimate, white joggers.

The most apparently egalitarian exercise of all, running, is anything but — especially when it comes to race. . .

Marketing and media didn’t help: From the cover of People magazine to ads for Nike . . . the joggers were almost uniformly depicted as white. . .

American distance running is still stubbornly white. The United States is only for the first time sending black female marathoners to the Olympics in 2021, while the competitive amateur and recreational levels of the sport remain overwhelmingly white.

Where to begin with this grandmaster level of obtuseness? First, the boom in running in the 1970s almost certainly traces to Frank Shorter winning the Olympic marathon in 1972, not some Madison Avenue concoction. Certainly Shorter was one of the inspirations for me to take running (running, not jogging!—see below), though even then I could easily name the leading African middle and long distance runners like the Kenyans Kip Keino, Henry Rono, and, before them, Ethiopian Abebe Bekila. And I do appreciate any opportunity to recycle a photo of Farah Faucett from the day. (Petrzela includes the cover in her Times piece.) I’m guessing, by the way, that just about all People magazine covers in the mid-1970s featured whites, and if you want to charge Time, Inc. with a lack of appreciation of diversity, fine. But don’t pin it on “jogging.”

Second, it is a curious thing that the article originally used the term “running” in the headline, and then changed it to “jogging.” As inferred above, “jogging” ain’t running. And the complaint that our Olympic team is only now including black women neatly elides over the fact the the leading American marathon runners over the last decade or two are mostly African immigrants. Petrzela has to strain pretty hard to advance the “exclusion” hypothesis, chiefly by excluding the examples of black male runners. (And I suppose it would be racist to say that back in the 1970s, black American track athletes excelled at sprinting and middle distance, while white track athletes competed better at long distance events—Steve Prefontaine anyone?)

Petrzela complains in the article that black joggers get harassed a lot when they take to the sidewalks in their Nikes, but this only sets up a riposte from Jack Butler at National Review (a Power Line podcast guest not long ago, and a 2:35 marathon runner), who notes that he gets shouted at a lot when he’s out flogging some miles, as often happened to me for that matter. Idiotic people like to yell at runners for some reason. Of course Petrzela is really trying to exploit the terrible story of the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery recently in Georgia, and it is the imperative of the left these days to turn every possible instance of injustice or tragedy into another opportunity to make out that everything is systemically racist. Eventually we’ll make it all the way back to the Big Bang.

Your humble Power Line correspondent, upper left (with the hair)—running, not jogging!

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