Dear Lansing XC/Track & Field Community,
We have pledged to you that, even when we aren't all in the same place at practices or at meets, we are still a team. I want to affirm once again that we are always a team, whether we are in season or not, and as your coach, I am here for you whether we are in season or not.
Superintendent Pettograsso issued a statement this week, publicly denouncing racism, police brutality against black and brown people, and clearly stating that each of our Lansing students is seen, loved, and valued. I echo Ms Pettograsso's statement: my support for the Black Lives Matter movement is unwavering.
I've stood before our program and said so many times: our goal is to support the growth of happy, healthy runners in mind, body, and spirit. As coaches, we believe deeply in the power of movement and of sport as a vehicle to attain our goals and to strive to meet our potential. This is why we've sent you runs and workouts that you could complete while we try to navigate a pandemic.
Ahmaud Arbery was murdered while out for a run. He is one of countless names of black lives taken. Protesters and activists are demanding justice for George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and so many more -- and are rightly demanding that our nation recognize and take action against the systemic racism that permeates every facet of our society. I stand with them.
In running, we say often say that the clock doesn't lie. Whomever crosses the finish line first is the fastest. But if we extend this metaphor: what happens when the starting lines aren't in the same place? Or when one trail is filled with detours and hills and another is flat and well-groomed?
During our virtual meetings this past season, we talked about sitting with uncertainty. We discussed holding emotions about the present and future at the same time and about shifting our perspective from one of "there's so much I can't do" to "there are things I can do." I urge all of us to ask ourselves what we can do to ensure that our metaphorical starting lines are in the same place, to do whatever we can so that we all have access to the same paths and that the rules for all of us are the same while we enjoy them.
My father is Chinese-American, my grandparents owned a Chinese grocery and restaurant. I know what it is to be called a racial slur as happened on my school playgrounds growing up. My skin is fair and my mother is a descendant of our nation's founders. I know what it is to benefit in nearly all that I do from the white privilege that a light complexion affords a person in our nation.
So I understand that there is much that I will never personally understand. But I pledge to listen, to learn, and to be an ally.