As Trayvon Martin’s murder proved, walking while black can get you killed. Rashawn Ray, a sociologist and assistant professor at the University of Maryland, believes that reality is why black men are less likely to jog in areas where they have white neighbors.

He gave a presentation on his theory, “Black People Don’t Run in My Neighborhood,” at Wake Forest University, in which he explained why black men are fearful of jogging: “It has a lot to do with criminalization,” he said. “It’s the inability for people to recognize or kind of separate a black man’s identity from criminality, so being black and male subjectively infers being criminal.”

To combat this, he believes black men go out of their way to appear non-threatening. “Black men have to go through a signaling process, particularly middle class black men, when they try to be physically active outside,” Ray explained. Black men might wave at people, stay away from places with dark lighting, carry their IDs and even wear college t-shirts to show that they are educated.

If you think that behavior is excessive, Ray offers up Trayvon Martin’s death and the killing of 24 year-old Jonathan A. Ferrell by a Charlotte police officer as evidence that black men have every right to be fearful.

He conducted a nationwide study on exercise patterns and determined that 50% of black Americans aren’t physically active at all, compared to 33% of whites. Ray believes that the way black men are perceived when running is a contributing factor. Through his research, he hoped to identify “the ways that racial inequality is manufactured and maintained in society.” We all know that, without a doubt, racial profiling is one of them.



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