There’s a massive misconception that Black women don’t run. Whether it is our hair or not wanting to sweat, Black women have been labeled with this stereotype. African American women have the highest rates of obesity compared to other groups in the United States as four out of five African American women are overweight or obese.
In 2009, Black Girls Run (BGR) was created to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African American community, providing new and veteran runners encouragement and resources encourages and motivates Black women to practice a healthy lifestyle. They want to serve as a fitness resource for runners and gym rats. BGR provides tips and literature on staying active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They also want to start a movement encouraging all women to get off the couch and get busy.
BGR wants to encourage African American women to prioritize fitness and healthy living. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 80% of African American women are overweight. BGR wants to create a movement to lower that percentage and subsequently lower the number of women with chronic diseases associated with an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle.The organization has 70 cities with Ambassadors who motivate women to run every day. This is an organization that is changing the lives of thousands of women across the country.
BGR Houston was started in 2011. The run coordinators are committed to parks in 12 locations across Houston. Each location has different times and dates for Black women to meet and run together at their assigned areas. This promotes a safe, consistent, and healthy way to get fit. The BGR Houston Run groups have unique names to match the parks. The run groups include; The Princesses (Tom Bass Park), The Gems (Pundt Park), The M&Ms (Meyer Park), The Explorers (Clearlake), The Sparklers (Spotts Park), The Hockley Honeybees (Zube Park), The Pearls (Oyster Creek Park), The Dolls (Schotts Park), The Sapphires (Katy), Before Breakfast (Memorial Park), The Hotties (Herman Park), and The Divas (The Woodlands Waterway).
BGR Houston Ambassador Shermain Joseph is one of three ambassadors who coordinates the activities and citywide meetups for BGR Houston. The other BGR Houston Ambassadors are Sylvia Grimes and Lisa Wells. Ambassador Joseph said, “I have a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out) that’s what led me to BGR! Sure, I ran in High School, but back then a “long-run” for me was a mile. I hated distance running. In my very first meetup, they were speaking this foreign language…2:1s, out and back, 2 abreast, 5Ks, 10Ks, 1/2s, and the next race/run. I hadn’t run in at least 20 years.”
She further mentioned, “What inspires me is the “Vision of All that Melanin” out on the pavement getting it in and at all levels.” Her favorite race is one she has no intention of running, which is The Chevron Houston Marathon. In closing she stated, “I’ve volunteered for three years and the excitement of cheering on the runners and the looks on the faces of my BGR Sisters when they see us is Priceless.”
BGR Houston is truly making a difference in the lives of many Black women across Houston. Women shouldn’t be intimated by the word run because there are several members who walk as well. It is all about keeping your body moving, sisterhood, and getting healthy one step at a time in a safe environment. Every run coordinator regularly posts run times on the Black Girls Run Houston Facebook Group. You can request to join when you are ready to join the movement.