Rachelle Cormier runs cross country and track at Interlake High School, which she will continue attending next fall as a junior. As a member of the long-distance team, Rachelle competes in the standard 5000 meter race during cross country season, while focusing on the 800m, 1600m and 3200m during the spring track season.
Having made varsity every year since middle school, Rachelle was the fastest freshman of her class entering high school. Since then, she has also competed in the state cross country meet, while consistently running top times at local meets. Her teammates describe her as a hardworking runner who never fails to maintain a positive attitude.
Rachelle’s father and grandfather were both runners as well, helping her to discover the sport. Rachelle says that she runs because she loves “working hard over [working] smar[t]”. In her words, running brings a sense of freedom and release, making her feel whole and complete. She describes the people she has met through running as some of “the most wonderful people.”
Rachelle considers herself to be mixed race, of African American, Korean, and Irish descent. “Personally I’ve been lucky enough to not face descrimination [in running],” she says. Nonetheless, she believes that a runner’s body or ethnicity should not play a role in their success. Ideally, “if [you] have the hard work in place[,] you [will] be successful. That’s the magic of running.”
When we asked Rachelle what she thought of racial discrimination in the running community, she replied, “Well when running I don’t mainly focus on racial differences, I focus on the ability of the athlete… showing people the harder you work that more success will come… You shouldn’t base people [off of their] ethnicity but the character of that person.”
While Rachelle says she lives in an area with little overt discrimination, she also won’t tolerate any less. “People can’t [choose] what they look like. They are given this body with no choice[.] The only choice is their mentality and ability to do justice. Love and understanding and mercy are impactful[, and] people should use them more often.”
Outside of running, Rachelle has shared with us one of her encounters with racism. Years ago, while traveling with family, Rachelle was directly asked by TSA personnel for a pat down, despite only being 13 at the time. Rachelle was the youngest, and also the only person of color in the group she was travelling with. Walking away, the family friends traveling with her were confused, because what had happened was so strange in the context of the situation. While racism may not always manifest itself verbally, it is clear that more work must be done at a societal level to combat systemic racism and inadvertent discrimination.
Confronting racial discrimination can be confusing at first, especially for those who are not directly impacted by it. Rachelle’s advice is to see people for their passions rather than their appearances; to “uplift people rather than putting them down,” for passion is what enables people to overcome challenges. She commends kindness as one of the most powerful tools to make a statement, and emphasizes the importance of standing in understanding and mercy.
Rachelle finishes with saying, “We all bleed the same blood, like Martin Luther said[,] don’t see the colors of people[‘s] skin but the judgment of [their] character.”