Running While Black is the newest book on this list—I just picked it up from my local bookstore after pre-ordering it earlier this year. (Highly recommend doing this when you can. It’s like giving surprise gifts to yourself.) I’m halfway through and it’s an engrossing read on several levels: it’s a memoir, a history, and a call to action.
The book grapples with a question—why is distance running so white?—that many of us have probably asked in passing, but Désir digs in. She finds historical ironies, like that the running boom caught on during the same era as legal fights over integration. “We couldn’t use a state park while white people were starting to jog in them,” she writes. In reality, Black athletes had been running all along, but the image of a runner as a skinny white dude is something that was constructed over time and needs to be challenged.