When I started walking the Breast Cancer 3-Day several years ago, one of the first things I noticed at the event was that the population of participants was mostly comprised of Caucasian females. Race is not something I normally notice, but it was SO obvious that the African-American, Hispanic, Asian, etc. women were being severely underrepresented. Hello! These women get breast cancer too! When I started running, I noticed the same demographic breakdown at races and other events. While I thought it was strange, I never really looked into it further.
Well, curiosity finally got the best of me, and a few months ago (at the risk of sounding out of place or rude) I broke down and asked a female African-American friend of mine why you don’t see more African-American women (and men, for that matter) at our local races or running groups. The general answer I was given was that (in her opinion, among her group of friends), fitness was just not something that was emphasized and that personal health issues were just something you kept to yourself and didn’t talk about much.
I was so puzzled by this because…isn’t it good for ALL PEOPLE to exercise and be healthy, regardless of race or sex?
Wanting to find out more about what could be done to encourage women (of all races) to get more motivated to exercise (and selfishly, run :)) and be more concerned with personal health education, I scoured Google. One of the groups I came across was Black Girls RUN! Their mission statement is simple, but I simply love it!
“Black girls run? Of course we do. In 2009, Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks created Black Girls RUN! in an effort to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American community and provide encouragement and resources to both new and veteran runners. The mission of Black Girls RUN! is to encourage African-American women to make fitness and healthy living a priority. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 80% of African-American women are overweight. BGR! wants to create a movement to lower that percentage and subsequently, lower the number of women with chronic diseases associated with an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle.”
BGR! is definitely not all talk. In addition to a website that offers a wealth of information on gear, lifestyle issues, healthy recipes, and health issues, they also put all of this into action by encouraging readers to join them at weekly group runs. BGR! hosts group runs in most major cities! If you would like to see if there is one in your area, click here.
Some people might wonder why I, obviously NOT a black girl, would be so interested in such a group. I will tell you why…because seeing unhealthy/unfit people is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves and I 100% support any group who is encouraging others to get up, get moving, and get healthy! Being educated about health and fitness is good for ALL people, and if BGR! is what makes a particular woman feel comfortable and get involved, well then that is AWESOME!
While there is not a BGR! group run in Baton Rouge, I have noticed the population of Black Girls RUN!ning in my weekly running club growing! Woot! I am so encouraged by this! I hope they will read this, find out more about this group, and get some information about starting a weekly group run in this area.
Just promise you’ll let this White Girl RUN! with you? Pretty please? (I need all the help I can get!)
Have you ever heard of Black Girls RUN!? What do you think of this group? What is one of your favorite organizations that you think is doing a great thing for our running community?