We all stand for something. Whether we have a favorite football team or a clothing brand, we all take pride in the things we believe in through the things we wear. Me, I wear a Running The Distance Hat and my Running The Distance Sweatshirt, because it represents my mission - to support all students, improve literacy, and change the culture around dyslexia.
This past week, because of Running The Distance Scholarship I was able to give out a scholarship to an award winner at their graduation. It makes me proud to have a brand like Running The Distance that supports students and shares how to turn challenges into opportunities. It is my hope that all students will be able to be Running The Distance in their own unique way.
What happens when your brand is placed next to a symbol that is unrepresentative of your vision and in fact has undertones of harm to others?
This past week that also happened. I was at another event in support of education, something I am passionate about. During the event, I was asked to take a photo with people who were in attendance. Upon taking the photo I asked for a copy. When I got back from the event and, after looking at the photo closer, I noticed there was a person wearing a hat that represented an Anti-Semitic group. There I was smiling and feeling like I was in a safe, supportive space and it turned out I was standing next to an emblem that represented hate.
I was at a loss at first, because it did not represent who I am or what I am about. It was more than an image for me because I kept thinking about it, and I really did not know why. After a workout and 3 ½ hour run, I realized this hit my core because the symbol represented hatred towards me, my own family, as well as other groups.
I am Jewish. My grandma escaped Europe just before the Holocaust, which is the reason I am alive today. It is conflicting for me to be at an event that supports something I am passionate about like education and at the same time showcasing hatred to my own existence.
My mom has told me since I was very young “being Jewish is a way of life.” I have observed holidays out of respect for my ancestors. What being Jewish really means to me is having empathy, respect and being a constant learner.
Over the last year and a half, I have learned that listening even harder is what really matters. Working to see and value all people, prevents harm and improves equity as we ultimately work towards justice for all—that is what I want our world to be. I viewed my experience as a teachable moment. What wins? Who has the power? It comes down to knowing my why and what I stand for. My mission is to support all students, improve literacy and change the culture around dyslexia. What do you stand for?