MILWAUKEE -- F.E.A.R. MKE, which stands for "Forget Everything And Run," is a Milwaukee-based group working to make long-distance running more diverse and inclusive. F.E.A.R. is part of Social X MKE, a young professionals group.
"Milwaukee has the title of being one of the most segregated places. We started Social X because we wanted to make sure that black and brown young professionals had the opportunity to connect here in the city," said Social X Co-Founder Ranell Washington.
F.E.A.R. combines health and wellness with the chance to socialize, but it's so much more than just that.
"African-Americans don't have a lot of safe spaces and we wanted to make sure we had a safe space for our African-American brothers, sisters, non-binary. They could come be themselves, run their miles, meet people," Washington said.
A safe space to run for BIPOC is a conversation F.E.A.R. has been having since the group started running seven years ago. But, that conversation got national attention after the killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery while he was out for a jog in Georgia.
"Ahmaud Arbery is very, very important to us. It's important because that could have been me, that could have been any one of my brothers, that could have been any one of our F.E.A.R. members or F.E.A.R. captains," said F.E.A.R. Lead Captain Tenia Fisher.
Fisher has been a long-distance runner for most of her life and ran at the college level.
"I was a young girl, 12 years old, running at long-distance events and didn't see anybody that looked like me," Fisher said. "So now fast forward, I won't say how many years, but now to be a part of a running community that is built for people of color to feel safe. That means the world to me."
While she and her F.E.A.R. team are racking up miles, they also hope to change perceptions.
"People of color do run and we do care about our health. It shouldn't be a shock to see someone of color running to the point that you literally want to chase them down because that is something so unknown to you," Fisher said.
The running group meets Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings for runs. They also have a Juneteenth run later this month. Everyone is welcome regardless of race, gender, size, or running level.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, they are asking people who join to mask up and register for runs in advance. For more information, click here.