‘Mummy, why do all of the runners have black skin?’

(308 Posts)
MoiraRoseIsMyQueen Sat 31-Jul-21 12:13:59

So, my 5-year-old has just asked this question while watching the 100m heats, and I’m struggling to answer! Does anyone have any advice on how to respond, without making generalisations or being racist? I am so sorry if I sound ignorant confused but I said ‘because people from Africa tend to be very good at running because of their genetics’ - and then thought that is probably not a good answer. Help!

OP’s posts: |
EssentialHummus Sat 31-Jul-21 12:18:12

“Different people with different bodies are good at different things” with a few other examples would be my route into it.

Sandsnake Sat 31-Jul-21 12:19:03

Tricky one - I could imagine my five year old asking the same thing. I’d probably just go with something like ‘I’m not sure actually - but I bet they had to work so hard to get to be so good at running. They’re amazing!’

I’ve been bigging all the Olympians and how hard they’ve worked / how strong they are to DS in the hope that it will encourage him!

Sirzy Sat 31-Jul-21 12:20:12

I wokld just say they are the best runners for their countries. No need to over complicate things

MoiraRoseIsMyQueen Sat 31-Jul-21 12:23:21

@Sandsnake me too, we’ve been loving it - so awesome to see such incredible diversity!

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Geamhradh Sat 31-Jul-21 12:24:48

"each country chooses its finest athletes"

Then point out it's rude to comment on the colour of people's skin. Do you live somewhere very racially homogeneous?

Unfashionable Sat 31-Jul-21 12:26:36

It’s not racist to say that people who come from different parts of the world tend to have different body shapes. Some people of West African heritage have bodies which are good at running very fast, and that some people of East African heritage have bodies which are very good at running long distances, some people of Northern European heritage are very big & strong so they are good at weightlifting, some people of Pacific Island heritage are both very big and very fast so they are very good at Rugby etc etc.

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MoiraRoseIsMyQueen Sat 31-Jul-21 12:27:03

@Geamhradh I’m not sure I would agree it’s rude?! Surely noticing difference is totally fine, and he’s five - of course he’s going to notice and comment! I think it’s a really positive thing to discuss - we do live in a very white British area, so for him getting to see and talk about people from all over the world is really interesting and beneficial.

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MoiraRoseIsMyQueen Sat 31-Jul-21 12:27:33

@Unfashionable love that, thank you - that’s a really helpful way of looking at it.

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DepressedDD Sat 31-Jul-21 12:27:34

Isn’t it something to do with black people genetically having more fast twitch muscle fibre or something? Or is that outdated rubbish? I read an interesting article about this years ago and it was about the Kenyan marathon runners and how most of them were from one particular tribe and that tribe had the most muscle fibre. My Kenyan housemate at the time was from a different tribe and said it was true and that his tribe were rubbish at running and better at farming! 😆

DepressedDD Sat 31-Jul-21 12:29:48

www.highachieverdiet.com/why-kenyan-runners-rule-endurance-running-and-what-you-can-learn-from-them/

Looks like it’s slow twitch muscle fibre (for the long distance runners anyway) and also more likely to have a rare gene which helps with something, longer legs.

greenlynx Sat 31-Jul-21 12:34:47

I always thought that it’s because their body shape. People from different countries have different features. Asian people are usually not so tall so obviously slower with running. It’s better when you have longer legs. I’ve never thought that this explanation is racist. Is it?

Geamhradh Sat 31-Jul-21 12:36:38

greenlynx

I always thought that it’s because their body shape. People from different countries have different features. Asian people are usually not so tall so obviously slower with running. It’s better when you have longer legs. I’ve never thought that this explanation is racist. Is it?

It's outdated and has been debunked. Lots of articles in the press from about 10 years ago.

MoiraRoseIsMyQueen Sat 31-Jul-21 12:36:54

@greenlynx no I think you’re right - I was just trying to avoid saying something like ‘black people are good at running’, which is a massive generalisation.

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greenlynx Sat 31-Jul-21 12:43:04

@Geamhradh
Oh I didn’t follow this topic probably for good 20 years, so what is the current explanation?

User5827372728 Sat 31-Jul-21 12:50:29

I think every winner of the men’s 100m race for years and year has been black.

I would tell my 5 year old because each country has their own competitions and the winner then represents the country at the Olympics.

My thoughts on why; that I wouldn’t share:

Black people may rely more on sports scholarships at colleges/unis in places like America so then have to train harder to keep their college places.
Black kids may be pushed more into sports at school than other subjects
Lots more sporting black role models than role models in other sectors

RampantIvy Sat 31-Jul-21 12:52:47

Sirzy

I wokld just say they are the best runners for their countries. No need to over complicate things

Same

yeOldeTrout Sat 31-Jul-21 12:59:20

It depends on specific 5 yr old & their attention span, but I could imagine going with a simple "Why shouldn't they all be similar physically?"

Iusedtoliveinsanfrancisco Sat 31-Jul-21 13:03:00

He’s 5. Just say they were picked because they were the fastest and best in their country. Anything else takes away from the achievement of the individual runner.

RyanAirVeteran Sat 31-Jul-21 13:19:06

@Geamhradh

Is it always winter in your world ?

Perfectly innocent question from a five year old and a mother trying to give the right answer.

Mo náire thú

WaitinOnASonnyDay Sat 31-Jul-21 13:20:16

In the 1996 Atlanta Olympics all the sprint medallists were black apart from one and he was also black.

UneFoisAuChalet Sat 31-Jul-21 13:21:24

Sirzy

I wokld just say they are the best runners for their countries. No need to over complicate things

This.

UneFoisAuChalet Sat 31-Jul-21 13:22:28

User5827372728

I think every winner of the men’s 100m race for years and year has been black.

I would tell my 5 year old because each country has their own competitions and the winner then represents the country at the Olympics.

My thoughts on why; that I wouldn’t share:

Black people may rely more on sports scholarships at colleges/unis in places like America so then have to train harder to keep their college places.
Black kids may be pushed more into sports at school than other subjects
Lots more sporting black role models than role models in other sectors

Definitely not this.

User5827372728 Sat 31-Jul-21 13:24:03

@UneFoisAuChalet

Why not?

Geamhradh Sat 31-Jul-21 13:24:58

RyanAirVeteran

*@Geamhradh*

Is it always winter in your world ?

Perfectly innocent question from a five year old and a mother trying to give the right answer.

Mo náire thú

Yes, and the correct answer would be what I said. That each country sends its best athletes and that it's rude to comment on skin colour.

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