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FREE MOVEMENT MOMENT: Solving real problems in the world

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Mark Basquill prepares to run with the Free Movement in the Black Man Running race at Hugh MacRae Park on March 11.

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The day after POTUS 45 made his first speech to a joint session of Congress, I tweaked an old injury during a light training jog in preparation for the Second annual Free Movement/Black Man Running 5k. The event will be held at Hugh MacRae Park on Sat., March 11. I anticipated running it, but the twinge of my injury argued otherwise. For the next week or so, it will be RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation). Been there, done that, have the T-shirt.

The injury reminded me of the difference between a moment and a movement. The injury is a momentary setback that will last a couple of weeks—nothing more. Unfortunately, nothing less. For me an injury is a moment; health and wisdom are the movement.

By some accounts the speech to Congress was a good moment for POTUS 45. It was a good moment when POTUS 45 said, “We must create a level playing field for American companies and our workers.”  “All Americans” would have been more powerful phrasing, but “companies” and “workers” more accurately reflect this administration. Even so, reading a presidential-sounding speech his daughter helped write after being elected by less than a quarter of the US population doesn’t exactly constitute a “movement.”

It brings us back to Black Man Running’s 5k event. The event is in step with broader movements making strides to level the playing field for all kinds of people for generations. Such broader movements have spanned a lot of good and bad presidential moments, and suffered a lot of injuries.

Black Man Running organizers Nick Szuberla, Rend Smith and Martha Foye impress with their quiet enthusiasm, intelligence and commitment to encourage us out of our comfortable neighborhoods, to connect us with broader positive movements. Black Man Running’s 5k is only one of a number of local events they help coordinate—designed to level the playing field in many areas. In February and March they have events and forums that call attention to veteran’s issues, including cohosting “Speed Killed My Cousin” on March 8 at TheatreNOW.

The Black Man Running 5k at Hugh MacRae stems partly from the work of University of Maryland’s sociology professor Rashawn Ray. Dr. Ray studied how stereotypes about African-Americans impact exercise choices and eventually lead to poor health outcomes. African-American males have higher rates of heart and respiratory disease, and are more likely to die prematurely, period. Dr. Ray’s findings suggest some of the increased incidents of chronic health conditions in the African-American community may be linked to lower rates of public physical activity. Lower rates of public exercise may be linked to legacy of legally restricted movement experienced in the past, and more informal but equally effective restrictions today.

I’ve been running with Free Movement/Black Man Running’s Monday evening group off and on since September. The group takes off from Jengo’s Playhouse and runs, jogs or walks through downtown. During one chilly February Monday run, I chatted with co-organizer Rend Smith and discovered we’re both average guys from average families, who grew up blocks away from each other in South Philadelphia.

That said, Rend and I only seem to share a hometown. Sure, during our chat we talked about hoagies, cheesesteaks and the pitiful Eagles. More importantly, we discovered we shared a similar understanding about the myth of free movement. Philly is highly informally segregated along a lot of class, color and ethnic lines. Nobody actually draws a map for anyone when they’re a kid, but folks quickly figure out there are places where it’s OK to go and places it’s not. It’s like most towns, really. After our chat, I wondered how hard it is to leave the segregated neighborhoods we inhabit as kids—not just geographically but socially, educationally and economically.

Jogging and chatting with Rend and the Free Movement folks helps get me out of the comfortable neighborhood that is my mind. Not too bad, really. Hope to see everyone at Hugh MacRae Park on March 11.

Free Movement
Black Man Running 5k
Sat., March 11
9 a.m. on-site registration.
10:30 a.m.,1-Mile Kids Fun Run
11 a.m., 5K
Hugh MacRae • 314 Pine Grove Dr.
Registration: $15-$25

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