Justice and Recreation For All – The Black Lives Matter Marathon Disruption

THE MARATHON OF EQUALITY

Well…if I ever needed to create some social tension for blog material, I couldn’t have made anything better than this. I suppose this one could write itself.

To summarize an upcoming spike in the still smoldering tension surrounding the treatment of black citizens in the United States, the Black Lives Matter organization has publicly stated they will disrupt the Twin Cities Marathon this weekend. For those not in the running know, the Twin Cities Marathon is a high-profile event both locally and nationally, with a quality field of competitors and a course that attracts elites trying to qualify for the US Olympic Trials. This is, obviously, no small thing. Black Lives Matter is using the attention the marathon receives and the environment it creates to continue demanding a shift in the social order towards equal treatment of black citizens, which has brought continued criticism of their confrontational and disruptive tactics by authoritarians, some of the general public, and now some of the running community. In the following post, I hope to raise considerations that will better inform what may or may not come to be this weekend.

THE INTENTION OF DISRUPTION

It is important to thoroughly consider the tactic of disruption that Black Lives Matter has stated they will use during the marathon, essentially blocking the path of runners somewhere along the course, maybe the finish line. BLM could very easily join the spectating crowd and hold signs that state their grievances and demands, but they aren’t, and we should really think about why.

Disruption as a matter of tactic is powerful, hence so much growing concern and anger on the internet and in the running community. Disruption steps out of the bounds of agreeable relationships between people and/or institutions and, in a way, creates adversaries, or at least draws a line and asks you to step on one side or the other. It is powerful in that it doesn’t remain confined to peaceful abstractions, “having one’s say”, or any other tame manner of expression, but demands action, demands a response, and upends expected social norms of behavior and privilege. So, instead of saying, “we will be heard” by holding signs to the audience along the marathon route, they have stated, “we will be heard” by putting ourselves in the way of the runners and not allowing them to continue the event.

But in the age of global social media, does BLM even need to engage in disruption to have their message heard? I mean, haven’t we been hearing about BLM and their demands since the recent waves of shootings of black individuals? Why would they feel compelled to spread this “message” further through outright disruption of a large social event and not a campaign of Facebook posts and articles? Admittedly, I’m playing devil’s advocate here because, obviously, there are very specific and blatant reasons why peaceably allowing business as usual to continue isn’t always the best approach to having one’s message heard or demands given. BLM has understood this from the beginning of their formation and acts outside this paradigm of lawful compliance for good reason, namely because as often as we hear that “black lives matter”, little is being done to actually make that a reality by authorities and authoritarians.

Yet, even considering the potential value of social disruption, “the message” in abstract form, as simply a statement within the confines of legality and free speech, is an important component to the disruption tactic. It is turning up the volume on the discussion about the treatment of black citizens in the US and pushing it to the forefront of the social conversation. Without even lifting a finger, BLM has already accomplished this with their threat to shutdown the marathon alone, forcing people like me to write blogs, share Facebook articles, and watch insecure white people lose their minds on message boards. Where I initially thought a pre-warning was a bit foolish (allowing the opposition to prepare and plan), maybe this was more calculated than it appears. Because here we are, again talking about black people being treated differently than white people, all because a marathon is about to take place. Now imagine the message that will be turned up and spread further should they pull off this disruption during the marathon. It will be louder, reach further and rise above the cacophony of social noise we have to navigate these days. The disruption will play the same role as every other spectacle that competes for our attention, more than requests for fair treatment, more than sign holding, and more than any business as usual approach to activism, even if only for the sake of being heard.

But really, this is more than just being heard. This is an upheaval of the social order, of the privileges and recreations of society. Disruption is a momentary stoppage of business as usual and BLM knows this. It is meant to bring a small degree of frustration and discomfort to those authorities, authoritarians and institutions that seem untouchable by their opposition. It is, in a small way, meant to bring frustration to those who don’t often feel frustration in their lives, who are accustomed to getting their way and having society function in the manner that assures their safety and enjoyment. Disruption is a way to share the experience of oppression, to not just say “this is injustice”, but to make one FEEL it. Through disruption, BLM is saying, “You don’t like it when you leave the house and things don’t go as planned? You don’t like it when your fun is ruined? You don’t like it when you can’t expect the social order to protect your interests?….Yeah, how does it feel?”

And let’s be real, the discomfort and frustration of those affected by this potential marathon disruption is NOTHING compared to the everyday fear and danger BLM is trying to convey to society at large, to ask for changes, to demand justice. This little potential disruption is surely not even comparable to the grievances BLM are stating and for which they demand a fundamental, societal change. I find it hard to sympathize with the marathon spectators who are already up in arms about this threat of potential shutdown.

This disruption, however, although it affects the participants and spectators of the event itself, goes beyond these demographics. This disruption is aimed at the general social order established by politicians, authoritarians and the authorities, and those individuals themselves. It is aimed at the various institutions and organizations that benefit from a social order that demands for a few to be on top, many must be on the bottom. Those many are often the black individuals for whom BLM is demanding justice. It’s important to recognize that marathons are big business, they are used as the face of a city, and they are enabled by many businesses and individuals who find benefit from an engaged, pacified public. They use these events, whether consciously or subconsciously, as gifts to the public, to request continuous permission (or distraction) to exist through participation. So disruption of an event that is sanctioned by the city, that paints a face of peace and order for the city, is more than just an act of isolated defiance. It is a lasting threat that business as usual, that the privileges these politicians and institutions enjoy through social cooperation, are in jeopardy. The fear that all recreational, profit-making, socially distracting events will be met with resistance creates strong incentive for change. It creates leverage for those demanding justice, if they are able to cause enough of a disruption by exerting organized, social power, to persuade authorities to their demands in exchange for something of a renewed social peace.

In short, disruption isn’t about ruining someone’s fun for childish motives. It’s a tactically powerful force that demands response and strikes fear in the hearts of the powerful if it establishes momentum and continues to grow.

WHY THE MARATHON?

When the Boston marathon bombing took place, the running community responded with all sorts of statements about the determination of runners and many other chest thumping sentiments. They took it personally, which I believe was a shallow consideration of the weight of the moment. In truth, the bombing had zero to do with runners and everything to do with symbolism and numbers. If it wasn’t an attack on the nationalism of a “patriot’s day” event, it was capitalizing on a social spectacle that was being watched by the entire country and parts of the world. The marathon is a potential target for social disruption for the same reason football games are a target, political rallies, parades, and any other event that draws thousands of people together. Marathons and large events are attractive to terrorists for the same reasons they are attractive to businesses – the far-reaching impact of the message or action. This is why BLM also acted to disrupt the opening game of the Minnesota Viknings football season (unsuccessfully, unfortunately). Mind you, I don’t at all mean to associate the BLM organization with terrorists (or marketing agencies for that matter), but to quell some of the personal offense runners have taken at this appropriately targeted threat.

With that said, it’s important to recognize that any recreational function of a society founded upon white privilege is going to be a function or product of white privilege…no matter who participates. If a fundamentalist christian church organizes, hosts and promotes a basketball game, and even if every player in the game is an explicit atheist, the event is still a product and enabler of the fundamentalist christian agenda. The events sanctioned by the institutions responsible for the social order, no matter how much pleasure they give us, do not escape this dynamic, the marathon being no exception. BLM has never stated they are seeking to disrupt the marathon because the organizers or participants are white supremacists, but they did acknowledge the previously stated dynamic saying, “Our job as an organization is to keep the pressure on. Our job is to let the community know that every day we are planning on dismantling white supremacy.” Although not explicitly detailed, this recognizes the marathon event, as all popular, authority-enabled events, as a part of the social order founded on and functioning through white supremacy.

BLM is seeking to disrupt the marathon because there are many eyes watching, because it is a product of a social order based on white privilege that ends in the casual and disproportionate killing of black citizens, and because it is a recreational privilege established by this system of white privilege that can be used as tactical leverage against itself.

BLACK LIVES MATTER (MORE THAN RUNNING)

Tactical and theoretical nuances aside, the idea that “black lives matter” is more important than a running event shouldn’t even be a discussion. Ultimately, what BLM is continuing to say, is that we as a society are more willing to invest ourselves in the meaningless recreations of spectator sports than we are the causes of justice and equality. I won’t go into the various aspects of human behavior that work to create this dynamic, but for those in the community that don’t have the privilege to ignore the inequality, they are more than right to attempt to put a stop to business as usual, even if that means cutting the marathon short a mile. In the bigger picture, black lives matter…competitive running doesn’t, and if you are unwilling to admit to that or carry it out to its logical conclusion, then as they say, you are DEFINITELY PART OF THE PROBLEM.

And to further reiterate a previous point made, if as a runner you feel inconvenienced, frustrated, dominated, and treated unfairly due to this potential disruption of your running event, then BLM has effectively made it’s point. Because what they are trying to do, in part, is convey what it is to be dominated, to not have the social order in your favor, to experience just the most tiny bit of what it’s like to NOT be privileged. Just be glad you can go for a run and not worry about being stopped and shot.

DAY OF TACTICS

All this previous rambling is great and all…but…will BLM ACTUALLY be able to pull this off? Will they be able to organize enough people to swarm an area by evading the police and then hold their ground on the race course, while not allowing the runners to find another way through to the finish? As someone who has participated in stealthy, tactical protest maneuvers like this…it would be an incredible testament to the organizational effectiveness of BLM if they can do just that. To be honest, if I had to put a bet on this disruption taking place, I’d be against BLM…unfortunately. This is why.

They already made a public statement that this disruption was going to take place. Not only that, they even estimated WHERE it would take place along the course. Now, this could always be a bluff, in an attempt to throw off the authorities, but again, it would be incredible if they could swarm an area of the course without being noticed by the police first or corralled by the police before they made an attempt.

Then there are the runners. It doesn’t even matter at what point during the race they try to stop runners from getting to the finish, it’s going to take a considerable amount of demotivation to make that happen. The BLM organizers expressed their wishes that runners would stop and join their protest, with good intention, but that is NOT going to happen. As a radical anarchist who agrees with BLM and understands and supports their decision to disrupt all facets of the social order (even marathons), I’m also a runner who would NOT stop for the rally. Tactically helpful, hurtful or neutral, I’m admitting to that. There is not a doubt in my mind that if they gathered enough people to flood the course in a certain area, that runners would break through the spectators and simply run around them, even backtracking and going a block or two out of their way to do so. That’s simply the truth. I think back to the area marathon course that was inadvertently stopped by a train last year and the decision of runners to either jump through the cars or run through the woods to get around the other side of the engine in order to keep going. Although the concern was expressed that runners would physically confront the protesters, I think that’s highly unlikely and they would sooner be looking for a way around them, and unless BLM manages to get about 50,000 people to one area, the runners are going to find a way. End of story. Mind you, this doesn’t mean the disruption won’t have the desired effect BLM is seeking, but a completely stoppage of the marathon simply will not happen.

PERSONAL FEELINGS

If BLM stated, “We’re going to disrupt the Super Bowl!”, even if I planned on going to a Super Bowl watching party, and even if they had the ability to do so, my response would be, “Hell yeah! I back this!”, primarily because I’m not emotionally tied to the outcome of the game and have no stake in seeing it to it’s conclusion (among many other motives). In effect, I have the PRIVILEGE of not giving a shit about the Super Bowl, so if anything happened to it, I wouldn’t care. I don’t have to care. I don’t need to care. Whatever happens to those that DO care doesn’t matter to me….see where I’m going with this?

But this isn’t the super bowl, this is a marathon. And even though I’m not running it, I know the work and investment and determination that each runner goes through in order to run the marathon, so I can’t help but feel connected to it and understand how the other runners might feel about this potential disruption. But with that said, so what? BLM is acting in a way that rightfully puts the privileged in a position they find themselves all the time, but with much more dire circumstances and outcomes. They are saying to the city and to the runners and to everyone connected with the marathon, “We have no stake in the marathon. We don’t care who wins. We don’t have to care. We don’t need to care. Whatever happens to those that do care doesn’t matter to me…oh wait, that sucks? Yeah…we know. How does it feel?” See, the BLM activists experience this all the time and no one cares, so they are putting it back in our face, and they should. And if runners are whining and crying about this, well these runners need to either get their priorities straight or expand their identities to not JUST be runners, but also activists. As it was so succinctly put recently, there are moments bigger than running. This is one of them. Our privilege to run, to experience organized social events, to walk in safety, to assume things will go our way, to know what each day will bring is predicated on a very tenuous social peace, one that is enabled by a system of white privilege and domination. We are only able to enjoy this moment as the functioning of this system is in our favor, but a stratified system never sustains itself.

Until we exist in a culture of relative equality, where a few no longer stand on the backs of the many, our privileges will always be in jeopardy and rightfully attacked. Runners – and anyone for that matter – that feel threatened by the disruptive actions of BLM or any oppressed peoples that push back against the social order need to get a healthy dose of perspective, step away from their privileges, and always act FOR relationships of equality, and AGAINST domination and authoritarianism…even if that means at the expense of recreational privileges.

So yeah, sorry if you miss out on a PR this weekend or fail to make the Trials or even finish the race, but there are moments and issues bigger than running, and the demands of BLM to expect equality and justice is one of them. Let’s do our part to help them get it, so we can ALL get back to an existence of recreation.

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18 responses to “Justice and Recreation For All – The Black Lives Matter Marathon Disruption

  1. Huh… I was waiting for someone to make sense of this, and I think this is it. I’m not running TCM this year, but have run it 4 times in the past. Yes, I would be pissed if they blocked my path, but I’d find a way. But should I? I think part of the problem is that too many of us have the option not to care about what’s going on, because it isn’t happening to us, or near us (and probably never will). So we can ignore it, and get mad when someone throws it in our face. This may be the most well articulated thing I’ve read about it this issue. Thank you!

    • Thanks for this response. I’m expecting some pushback from the running community, but I also know the running community is primarily a group of kind-hearted, understanding individuals, so it’s been good to see a bit of support for this perspective.

  2. My own Mile 25 plan is at: https://www.facebook.com/gregg.lind.1/posts/10153649820044813 . My closest running partner survived Boston, is currently completely triggered, and views this action as bullying and terrorism. I understand their reasons, and their pain. I wish I could go back and erase Boston, and their pain. I am struggling with compassion. Trying to separate compassion for the pain these friends and neighbors in #blm feels from the personal impact of this disruption is hard. Already, I am barely trained enough for this, and now the prospect of running alone, knowing that this softness in my heart means I lose a friendship is horrifying and sad. #barelyARunner, right?

    I hear many runners asking “why us?” and “why here?” and when then can hear those answers, I want to send them this article, but that time isn’t now, for most of them.

    I wish this wasn’t the arena, and I wasn’t being forced to make a choices. But it is, and I am.

    • Writeonly – thanks for this response. In any tense situation like this where we’re navigating various relationships (powerful against powerless, personal vs. mediated, mass vs. individual, etc.) it’s impossible to account for everyone’s needs and there will be “collateral damage” as much as I loathe to use that terminology. I don’t mean to excuse any unthinkingness on anyone’s part, but I just don’t think that’s the case. Regardless, I respect your approach to this and wish you the best physically and emotionally going forward.

  3. Thanks for sharing your thinking around this. I have been thinking through what is going on here, and your post has helped make some sense of some very complex ideas. Unfortunately, I don’t think enough of us are doing enough deep thinking around this or even realize where some of our blind spots are.

    • Thanks for your response Trying…these are very difficult dynamics to absorb and respond with appropriateness, but it’s important that we try!

  4. Your statement “it’s important to recognize that any recreational function of a society founded upon white privilege is going to be a function or product of white privilege” would seem to justify any sort of disruption of any activity no matter how tangentially related to actual oppression. Where do you draw the line? Kids at a playground? Park and rec softball games? Church picnics? Replace “white privilege” with “capitalism” or “state power” or “hierarchy” or any of the ills we face; almost anything we do is to some extent entangled with the machinery of injustice. Does that mean we, who are simultaneously oppressed and oppressor, are obliged to put up with any disruption demanded by those who claim their own conception of liberation is paramount? I really appreciate your thoughts, but I’m not entirely convinced. Shutting down the RNC, fine, those were the actual wielders of power. Occupy Wall Street, blockade the WTO, great. You argue “this disruption…although it affects the participants and spectators of the event itself, goes beyond these demographics.” I don’t see how it does. You mention affecting politicians, authorities, institutions–blocking runners in the streets doesn’t affect those in power, it just blocks runners in the streets. Also, even if the disruption is justified, it’s hard to see how hijacking the recreation of everyday citizens is going to grow a movement. You are just going to piss off the people whose support you need. I may sound like a liberal here, but I’ve been an anarchist for 30 years (I’ve also done a marathon or two). Sometimes disruption of a heinous activity is needed. Sometimes disruption is an unfortunate byproduct of direct action aimed at something else. Disrupting the marathon just seems so beside the point.

    • IMP – thanks for your response. As to your points…

      I think A LOT more about our society is up for disruption than people want to admit, but that matter of disruption should always be carried out with a deep consideration of strategy and value, so I don’t think things like kids on a playground or church picnics are valid targets or reasons to dismiss this potential upcoming action.

      I do agree we can replace white privilege with “capitalism”, “hierarchy”, etc. to the same effect, and although I PREFER to address our grievances under the larger umbrella of these oppressions and terms, I’m trying to work within this moment, to speak to a specific audience (privileged white people, runners, white runners, my peers, etc.) and not lose anyone on “HEY. It’s ALL gotta go….even your church picnics.”. 🙂

      I don’t agree that a marathon (or any mass sporting event) isn’t a valid target, of which I outlined in part through my post. Maybe I’m less sympathetic to the luxuries of our industrialized civilization, or maybe I have desires for a more abrupt shift in the foundational social order, but I’m personally unconcerned with stepping on too many toes in the process to bring about BLM objectives.

      I’m also not sure avoiding “the citizens” of the marathon is going to build a movement by not disrupting their fun. I mean, that’s essentially the stated point of BLM in a way, in which they said (i’m paraphrasing), we’d like people to join us in getting our objectives so we can stop having to protest and disrupt societal privileges”. BLM just threatening to stop the marathon has FORCED this decision upon the public who often get to go about their day without ever having to consider these issues (because our privilege allows us to not be affected by them), but maybe making us uncomfortable will compel us to speak up, confront our bosses and authorities, and use our privileges to help those less fortunate. I mean…this has compelled me to write this post as a privileged white runner when I normally wouldn’t have ever brought this to a larger audience. I”m sure others are doing the same. So yeah, I”m not so convinced the resonating affect of this action will be such a bad thing. Our privileges create a society that is far too safe and complacent in letting business go on as usual…which, in the argument of BLM, means the disproportionate race-based violence of the state and authorities against black citizens.

  5. People listen to their peers. As a person of color, I thank you for stepping up and coherently w/o using code words and name calling provide analysis.

    • Meggan, thanks for this support. I was told by others more engaged in the discussion, “If you want to help…go talk to your people.” I hope I’m doing this constructively.

  6. First, I appreciate the perspective from which this article was written. It’s always great to be able to see things from a different world view. That said, I found one particular statement to be a bit sensationalist. “Just be glad you can go for a run and not worry about being stopped and shot.” Really? At the risk of sounding ignorant, I just can’t imagine that a dark-skinned person would be inhibited from running due to the fear of getting shot… unless the person is choosing perhaps, to run in an area that is known to be relatively unsafe – but then, there may be unsafe areas for a lighter-skinned person to run, too. We’ve all heard stories about runners (particularly women) who have been injured or killed while running when it’s dark outside, running in a secluded area, or even running in a high-traffic area — but I don’t really think that has much to do with skin color.
    Again at the risk of sounding ignorant, and in attempt to become more enlightened, I have to ask – what is the specific goal of BLM? I think back to the Civil Rights Movement when people were seeking equality. In order to achieve that goal, radical changes were needed in government. What is it exactly that can be done now? I understand the desire for peace, love, and harmony among all people – I just question whether a demonstration such as what we’re expecting at the marathon is an effective means to the end. The root of the problem is deep and really needs to be addressed in schools and at home. It’s about a messed-up way of thinking that isn’t based on truth. After reading this article, I’m more concerned that BLM’s marathon disruption will only add fuel to the fire.

    • Angela, thanks for your response – What I was doing with that statement was purposefully exaggerating the dynamics of privilege and oppression. I didn’t mean for it to be taken so literal, though to be totally honest, if I went for a run and a black male went for a run, the chances they would be seen as running FROM something criminal would be far more probable. But again, I was exaggerating the situation to make a point. I can go out for a run without concern, and I can go out for a walk at night without concern and I can get stopped by the police with very little fear of being arrested, beaten, unnecessary escalation, or getting shot. That is certainly not the case for a black male (or female). With that said, some of these same concerns can be said for the treatment of women (white and black) going out for a run and walking in public, though maybe not so much when dealing with the police. Again, I’m just trying to highlight the disproportionate comforts we feel due to our race based privileges.

      BLM does have very specific issues they are addressing with this current disruption and the disruption they aimed at the Minnesota Vikings football opener, in part to investigate a recent violent arrest of a young black male along with other recent incidents of police violence, which are moments of the larger, more general oppression of black individuals in the US. BLM is powerful as organization and in their disruption because they aren’t just dealing with small moments of oppression, but continuing to resist the many institutionalized forms of racism and oppression, which certainly wasn’t eliminated after the “civil rights movement” of the 60s and 70s. It would be dangerous and misguided to assume that moment achieved total victory, stopped and is now simply a part of our history. The civil rights movement never ended, it just changed forms, of which BLM is a continuation.

  7. Everyone’s lives matter. Discrimination and pain caused by it are real for many people who suffer it for a variety of reason, not just for being black, but GLBT, physically impaired, suffering depression, how many more reasons do I need to list? What is the desired outcome? A more compassionate inclusive community or the continuation of the us verses them mentality? This disruption to many people is a continuation of conflict and not a sincere attempt at trying to honestly help our society to be kind, caring and inclusive of ALL of our differences. To label the running of a race as a simple sporting event and to argue the point that to defend the race versus the BLM protest as you being part of the problem is offensive and lacks vision. When many people who are not and never have been athletes train and run as nothing more than a goal to achieve because of attempting to over come addiction or cancer, how can you or anyone else say anything to minimize this to them? That is an example of why this type of social expression will hurt more than help. Everyone has a life that matters and everyone deserves respect. When you use disrespect to try to garner respect you lose your soul and values one piece at a time. And you are no better then those who treat a person of color, or a disabled person, or a person who suffers from depression or a young unwed mother or a gay couple looking for acceptance with disrespect. Two wrongs do NOT make a right. And just because something is not important to you does not make it unimportant to someone else. You should not assume that you understand the back story to another persons actions. That is enormously egotistical and disrespectful. This country is less tolerant every single day. To claim to be tolerant and support this behavior is hypocritical. And shameful.

    • I suggest you read this previous post (https://runvegan.wordpress.com/2015/09/18/how-racist-is-a-vegan-anti-racist-a-consideration-of-black-lives-matter/) re: using statements like “Everyone’s lives matter”. We are not a ‘colorblind’ or ‘post-racist’ society even if you think that you are personally. This isn’t about personal feelings, this is about creating systematic change.

    • I fail to see where I’ve tried to minimize people’s attempts to run a marathon. For the record, I’m a competitive runner that trains everyday and takes this very seriously…as well as a runner who is CURRENTLY battling cancer, so in no way am I trying to minimize the event. That’s not the discussion here, however. The discussion is about institutionalized racism, how institutionalized racism affects peoples lives (black citizens shot and killed, unemployment, disproportionate treatment, incarceration rates, etc.), and how the everyday machinations and “business as usual” social order serves to continue this lack of equality to all individuals….large sporting events, rallies, parades, economies, hierarchical structures, etc., all being a part of them. Therefore, despite individual interests, these are all valid points of conflict that need to be addressed and disrupted if it serves the goal of a systematic equality.

      I know it would be nice to believe the world can just hug it out and be friendly, but THAT perspective lacks vision and a historical oversight of how social progression took place. I dare say you would support certain actions in the past that disrupted the comfort and privileges of the social order (tea party, sit-ins, anti-war protests, ghandi led civil disobedience, slave liberations,etc.) including modern day examples….which probably acted to give you some of the privileges you enjoy today.

      I’m sorry that those of us who enjoy these privileges have to be disrupted and made to feel uncomfortable for all people to progress towards equality and basic, fair treatment (not even addressing the desire for a complete authoritarian dismantling), but those who are pushing back against their oppressions feel this every day in so many ways. And their disruption of the social order in this case is incredibly momentary and nothing that will affect you much past the weekend…so I wouldn’t get too worked up over it.

      Ultimately, your defensiveness and fear of social disruption 1. speaks to your sense of privilege and the threat to it and 2. serves the same racist social order that acts to oppress non-white people and then says, “Hey! You can’t fight back…that’s uncivilized!” You’re focusing your frustration on the oppressed and not the oppressors. BLM is asking you to help them, to change your focus on the REAL problem…and most people would not have ever felt compelled to do so one way or the other without this disruption of a recreational privilege…so I think what they are doing is quite effective and far from shameful.

  8. Scott– yesterday was the first time I came across your blog and the posts that I read have been very enjoyable; they’ve helped me crystallize my own thinking. One further comment/question: in particular I’m wondering why some of your well-thought-out criticisms of DxE’s disruptive tactics in your post on that subject wouldn’t also apply to BLM at the TCM? Is it because you think public sporting events create much more of a public/social spectacle/space and are thus more fair game?

    • Imp, I sent my DxE critique to a number of friends for feedback before posting and that question was raised and discussed among a couple of us. Specifically, they asked whether I agreed with the disruption tactics of BLM and, if so, what separates them from the disruption tactics of DxE. Honestly, that’s a long discussion that is deserving of another blog post in itself, but to ineffectively summarize, I feel there are a number of differences between the groups and messages (of which I’ll address a couple). 1. Intent. I believe disruption with BLM has to do with a larger scale (albeit momentary) shutdown of the social order at large where DxE does not, and so the momentary disruption with DxE is tactically hurtful. 2. Acceptance of value. The discussion around the value of non-white individuals is of an obviously different degree than the discussion of the value of animals. All but the most explicit racists fundamentally accept and acknowledge the lives of other humans (no matter their race), but that is not the case with animal lives, and so, for many reasons, the effect of disruption and how those disruptions are carried out, differ in effect. With BLM, people listen and react, where with DxE, they mock and dismiss. BLM has a more fundamental respect given to them and their concerns are valuable to their audience, even if their tactics are viewed as oppositional and hurtful. DxE does not have that respect and continue to position animal rights activists as crazy, out of touch wingnuts through their expressions.

      So, although the disruptions seem to be similar in approach, I think there are significant differences that can be separated amongst them. That is how I view it anyways.

  9. Thank you for your insightful blog. It helps clarify the issues in a way I’ve not seen elsewhere. Good luck to all runners AND to BLM, which I agree has challenges that ARE more important than my ability to complete a race. All runners should consider the ideas you’ve expressed. If we are as respectful, welcoming, and open-minded a community as we profess to be, we will take a deep breath, shelve our self-righteous indignation, and gain a deeper understanding and a moral perspective on the critical issues facing American society today.

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