With Global Running Day serving as a backdrop this week amidst the elevated racial tensions around the country, Fleet Feet president and CEO Joey Pointer penned an emotional message to everyone in the running community urging an effort to contribute to a solution.
That message is excerpted here:
To Our Partners, Competitors and Friends in the Running Industry
We are living in uncomfortable and scary times.
For the black community, though, uncomfortable and scary is nothing new. Systemic racism is a sad reality of our culture and has been since the beginning of our country.
We can pretend that plain fact is not true. We can refuse to talk openly about it. We can even continue to try to ignore it. But none of that will make things better.
The running industry has long patted itself on the back about being inclusive. We tell ourselves that when we run together it doesn’t matter whether you are fast or slow, big or small, male or female. And that it doesn’t matter your race, religion, sexual orientation or what political group you belong to.
But, if that were really true, then the starting lines of our races would look much different. The customers in our stores would be much more diverse, as would our employee ranks. If you’re reading this, or you’re one of the people in the running industry to whom this message was forwarded, the odds are overwhelmingly high that you are not a person of color. Being inclusive doesn’t really mean much if the people you proclaim to include aren’t showing up.
Our long-standing silence and inaction with regard to systemic racism is equivalent to participation. We here at Fleet Feet are not pointing fingers; rather, we’re extending our hand and asking you to join us. We have stayed quiet for far too long ourselves. We have made all the excuses you can think of to not jump into the fray.
But now, enough is enough. As I sit here today, I’m not entirely sure what all of our actions will be. We do not have all the answers.
There is no doubt that a committed group of like-minded people from this amazing industry can find ways to make a real and sustainable difference. Whether you are a competitor, a partner or a friend of Fleet Feet, we know that all of you help shape our communities in amazing and inspiring ways. When this industry puts its mind to reaching a goal, just like the runners we serve, we are at our best. We will need to run together like never before in order to reach this finish line.
There are some of you out there, including our own franchisees, who are better at this that we are. We would like to hear about your programs and ideas and learn from you. We can band together to create a movement within our circle of influence and control that will impact our communities forever.
So the question for today is, “Will you join us?” All we need from you now, is a simple two-word response, “We’re in” or “We’re out”. We will follow up accordingly.
Fleet Feet | President & CEO
310 East Main St., Suite 200
Carrboro, NC 27510