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Book Review :: Running While Black by Alison Mariella Désir

Running While Black by Alison Mariella Désir book cover image

Guest Post by Kevin Brown

Alison Mariella Désir’s Running While Black: Finding Freedom in a Sport That Wasn’t Built for Us is a book runners should read; it’s also a book everybody should read. Désir details how running helps her manage her depression and how she has used running to develop a career and passion that has guided her life. The book not only shows what running while Black is like, it shows what being a Black woman in America is like. While the book is a critique of the whiteness of running in America, Désir uses the lens of running to talk about racism, sexism, and their intersection. The Notes pages illustrate the depth and breadth of her research, as she pulls from newspaper articles; scholarly works on issues such as redlining, Jim Crow, racism in medicine, and contemporary legal issues; social media and podcasts; and well-known writers on race, such as Ta-Nehisi Coates and Ijeoma Oluo. This breadth of research, coupled with Désir’s experiences, makes this book a must for every reader. I expected to see running differently after reading Désir’s book, but I didn’t expect to see so many other aspects of twenty-first-century life and racism in new ways. Any book that can have that effect is worth reading, whether one has ever or will ever run.

Running While Black by Alison Mariella Désir. Portfolio, October 2022.

Reviewer bio: Kevin Brown has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. Twitter @kevinbrownwrite or kevinbrownwrites.weebly.com/.

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