“I feel fat.” These were the words of a woman from Congo being sponsored by Women for Women International. She continued, “I feel fat with happiness. You run for us. I feel love.” These words propelled me and about 200 other runners on our 5K along Chicago’s Lake Shore path. The irony is, I am fat. Moving 40 plus pounds of extra “me” around the training loop takes a serious effort. I trained for 10 weeks, going from 3 minute running intervals to 40 minutes without stopping. It was difficult. Yet, my effort has been fueled by knowing that my work pales in comparison to the effort Congolese heroines muster daily to survive and heal the ravages of war. And, so I ran for my sisters in Congo. In my 38 minute, 30 second 5K run I felt the world was a smaller and gentler place – and new friends Tanisha, Tami, Tracy and Paula put their arms around me at the start and
(my self portrait during my run at mile 2)
finish in the best kind of sister’s embrace. My husband pushed our little son in his stroller along the route too, companions on the journey to better health and social justice. So, I ran my first 5K in more than 8 years to live my commitment to be a good global neighbor, a compassionate woman, and a model to my youngest son, who is a child of Africa and a black American. Today, I shouted across the continents to our sisters in Congo, “I feel fat with happiness too. I feel love. I ran for you! I did it!”
(our happy finish)
(our happy finish)
(sisters running for our sisters)
I can't help but make an additional comment about this photo. I love it. Can you see the joy on my face? It's not JUST the run, folks. This is a symbolic image for me. You know it - this last photo is a testimony to the changes I plan to CONTINUE in my life. Over on "Stuff White People Do" there is a provoking statement about the white folks being all too often in their own company. In my progressive not very diverse midwestern town, I'm guilty of this. The phenomenon is mentioned again when exposing the "teacher's gap" in a recent article on Tolerance.Org As a teacher, I'm guilty and to make it more complicated (and me, more complicit) in my present HS there are not fellow teachers of color! And finally, some of this stuff gets started back in the early years, as argued by Newsweek's "Babies See Race" article. Seriously, if I am going to raise THIS darling boy,be a good teacher to my students of color, and enact being a good ally, I NEED these women in my life. It's a complicated sentiment to express, and then it isn't. I want to own my motivations, all of them. So, I'm out there, doin' it. I'm running for me, I'm running for my sisters in Congo, and I'm running to grow my networks. Next, I'll be in MN to run for schools in Ethiopia. I plan to run with some fellow AP's in support of children in my son's homeland. Another 5K, another chance to stretch, grow, and make a difference. Tami, thanks for welcoming me into your circle. You are a ROCKSTAR and I can't wait to run with you next year. Anyone else? Join us - please.