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Runners make strides against racism during annual 5K run

Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 7:05 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - During a smokey, warm Tuesday evening runners lined up on the streets of Fairbanks to run for a cause.

Each year, the “Race Against Racism” brings runners from all walks of life together. The purpose is to raise awareness of racial injustice and showcase some of the local landmarks of those who have made a contribution to the quality of life of others in the Interior.

Since its inception in 1998, “Race Against Racism” has brought runners together - and after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, they were back and ready to run the 5K race.

Starting at the JP Jones Community Center, the racers took their mark, according to Co-Director Any Harrington. “We start and stop and the JP Jones Community Center, we run past the Mary Siah Recreation Center, then the Dan Ramras Tennis Courts. We get to see the Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center, Birth of Moses Patient Hostel, the Old Paul Williams House, and Bernice Aldridge Park.”

Harrington went on to say, “All these are folks that helped out in many ways to try and make Fairbanks a better community, so it is a way of saluting them even though it makes the race course look kind of wonky.”

Harrington says this race also gives people time to think about how they feel about racism. “I think it gives people a chance to think about things that they probably haven’t thought about, or maybe in a long time, maybe in too long of a time, and to realize that our community isn’t exempt,” he said. “We like to think it is, but it isn’t exempt from the kinds of troubles that have affected numerous communities throughout the United States.”

Harrington went on to say he encourages people to think of future generations and help kids understand that racism is a corrosive element in today’s society. “It can destroy our communities if we are not willing to take appropriate steps which is what we are doing it’s a race.”

As the runners barreled through the final checkpoint, some of them spoke about how they felt the race impacts themselves and the community.

Madeline White finished in just over 20 minutes after taking a slight detour, and she did it with a smile. When asked if racism was still prevalent in society today White responded, “It’s definitely still prevalent, and I don’t think that it is necessarily the verbiage that people use, but it is more so the culture around it and how people look at you and treat you. I think it is still around but what the actual definition is versus how it is exemplified today is different.”

One of the youngest runners, Sophia Tape made it past the finish line proudly as she outran her mom. “She’s not really a runner,” Tape laughed. Her mother said the same as she passed the final checkpoint. “We are here for fun, and it’s for a good cause,” she added.

When asked about her thoughts on racism or what that meant, the younger Tape replied,” Well, I don’t like it, and I think that’s what it means, judging people by how they look and the color of their skin and not who they actually are.”

Tape even quoted someone who brought her inspiration that day, Martin Luther King Jr. “He said people shouldn’t be judged by the color of their skin, but by who they are, how they act, and who they could end up being” she said softly.

For Andy Harrington, he says the first step is acknowledging that racism still exists, adding that if you can do that, you are one step closer to winning the race.

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