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Celebrating while Black: Boston Marathon incident adds to the list

An incomplete list of things you apparently cannot do in America while Black:

There’s the classic one – driving. There’s ringing a doorbell while Black. Wearing a hoodie while Black. Being a kid and holding a toy gun. Trying to breathe while Black. Just being home. Just being home and a cop shoots you thinking she was instead in her apartment. Walk across your living room. Show a house as a real estate agent. Driving with a white grandma. Jogging while Black. Freaking bird watching.

Now there’s another one: celebrating while Black.

Members of two different running groups, both racially diverse, say they were singled out on Monday during the Boston Marathon. They said when other spectators (see: white people) cheered on runners by occasionally running onto the course, the action against them was minimal or non-existent.

But when members of these diverse running groups (see: including Black people), did the same, they were essentially overpoliced.

Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, the executive director for Lawyers for Civil Rights, told the Boston Globe he’d heard complaints from at least a dozen runners and spectators.

“Law enforcement may patrol any segment of the Marathon line, but a concentration in an area where Black runners and spectators have gathered peacefully strongly raises the specter of racial profiling,” he said.

He also explained one especially concerning aspect: it appeared cops at one point were physically on multiple sides of the group. (Add grouping while Black to the list.)

Aliese Lash, one of the leaders of the Pioneers Run Crew, said the reaction was different when members of her club went onto the course and cheered on runners.

“But there’s people along the entire course who do the same thing,” Lash said. “It’s so common for people to support their runners. But for some reason we do it and it’s not OK for us to do it.”

‘This year, we know that we did not deliver on our promise to make it a great day for everyone,’ Boston Athletic Association president and CEO Jack Fleming said Thursday in a statement. ‘We met with two groups last night, who the B.A.A. proudly supports in their running activities, their members and their mission — PIONEERS Run Crew and TrailblazHers Run Co. — two of Boston’s premier clubs for BIPOC runners.

‘They expressed to us their deep concerns that they were not given the chance to enjoy the day and celebrate their friends, families and all participants as they approached Heartbreak Hill — that is on us. It is our job, and we need to do better to create an environment that is welcoming and supportive of the BIPOC communities at the marathon.’

If you’re one of these people who will suddenly be a stickler for the rules and say people should follow them, well, yes, but that rule should apply to all, right?

The Boston Marathon has a history of ignoring the Black and brown community. That’s part of this troubling moment.

There’s also a larger story here. It’s the overreaction. The extreme police presence. Some of the other cases of (Insert Action Here) while being Black are more serious since Black people, like George Floyd, were killed in some of these instances, but examples like this one are still highly problematic.

That’s because they can lead to those other problematic moments. Harassing and over-policing is the gateway act to other horrors.

It gets tiring having to address these types of issues repeatedly, but we can’t ignore them. We have to stare them down. Unless staring while Black is now also against the rules.

Just recently rapper E-40 was ejected by the Sacramento Kings for what ESPN described as standing excessively. E-40 initially said, according to ESPN, there was a racial component to his ejection since a white friend he was with, also standing, wasn’t told to leave.

The two sides have since worked things out leading to a joint statement from E-40 and the Kings.

‘After a series of thoughtful and transparent conversations, both parties agree that there was a miscommunication regarding the circumstances that occurred during the Kings vs. Warriors game on Saturday night,’ the statement read in part.

So is standing while Black on the list or nah? Let’s take that one off for now as E-40 has reached a détente.

The list is long enough anyway.  

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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