Chris Kessell: Why I Race

It is the right thing to do.

When I was a young child growing up in St. Albans WV, my mother and father would consistently tell my brother and me that we needed to judge people as individuals, we had to stand up for ourselves, and stand up for people who were being bullied. At the time, as a young child I did not understand the depth these lessons they were instilling in us had. They were fighting back against the prejudice that we were being both actively and passively exposed to as small children in a near totally racially homogeneous school and neighborhood.

Racially insensitive jokes that children were bringing from home to school, statements made by children and adults that were not appropriate, and general media consumption that all shape whom a child is and make them think that all of these actions are acceptable and normal.

Our parents knew these things we were being exposed to were neither acceptable nor normal; therefore, they did the right thing. They stood up against what their children were being surrounded by and taught us how wrong what we were hearing was. They told us why it was wrong. They instilled a desire to look at people as individuals and stand up for the right thing.

The Race to End Racism is an extension of these lessons that my parents gave me as a young child.

I will be racing on April 28th because ending racism is the right thing to do, standing up for our friends and neighbors who fight daily against the effects of racism is the right thing to do, and giving our community a place to show how committed we are to doing the right thing… is the right thing to do.

Show your commitment to doing the right thing. Go to and sign up to walk or run individually, create team or become sponsor of YWCA Race to End Racism!

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