For the people out there who know me in real life, you know I am a pretty political person. I have spent most of my adult life working in political organizations. But this blog isn’t suppossed to be about that, it is suppossed to be about running. And then, Meb Keflezighi has to go and win the New York Marathon, churning up a whole bunch of nasty “he isn’t really an American” crap.
No to all of this. First of all, Meb has been running in the U.S. since high school, which means he has been an American runner longer than I have. And no one would ever say someone with my skin color and name isn’t an American, no matter when they started running here. But that isn’t the point. I wouldn’t have cared if Meb had moved to the U.S. the day before the marathon. This is a country of immigrants. We are at our best when we are welcoming to people who want to come here, bringing their talent and hard work with them. We are at our worst when we start setting up criteria for who is “American”. So lets call this for what it is – nativism and racism. Nativist envy that someone who came from to this country with so little has done so well. And racism because I am willing to bet this wouldn’t be news if his name was Tom Smith and he had immigrated here from Canada at age 12.
So, when you’re reading a running forum, or chatting about this at a social event and Meb’s “american-ness” comes up. Speak up for him. He just did a great thing and we should be proud of him.