BOTHELL, Wash. - This is a story about the world we live in today, about family and fear, perception and race. It's also a story that relays hope. A Washington family shares their story as perfect strangers helped put a movement into motion.
If action speaks louder than words, Rue Khosa says she had no choice, but to relay the fear that runs through her mind.
“Dear Bothell community, this is my husband Godwell Khosa. In an effort to get healthy and stay fit, he has started running in the morning…”
She posted her plea, along with a photo of her husband, Godwell, on the Bothell Community Facebook page.
“I couldn’t breathe. I just felt like what if someone saw my over six-foot husband running in dark clothes, which he usually does at 5:00 in the morning, when they don’t usually see him out there and think maybe something’s going on, maybe he’s running, he’s done something. Just because of what he looks like. Just being this tall big black guy in a neighborhood where we don’t have that many people of color here,” said Rue.
Little did she know, her words would take off. Hundreds of comments and thousands of likes. And then, one morning, the fear that leaves her restless turned a corner.
“So many people are like 'hey, I will run with your husband. I don’t even run, but I’ll run with your husband,'” said Rue.
The run of support kicked off the week of Juneteenth and people have shown up every Saturday since, to run with Godwell.
“People from work came, the neighbors came, so it was just really moving to know people care so that was really cool,” said Godwell.
“To hear that something so little started off as just a simple post and then blew up as a motivational run group; you got all colors coming from Asian to Mexican to White and they’re all coming to support this run which is titled Black Lives Matter,” said runner, Elijah Jordan.
“Even when I was thinking about it too, I was like ok do I really feel threatened? I kind of realized every time I run I try not to look in people's cars. I kind of have to stay straight. I don’t want people to thinking I’m casing the joint. I think it becomes automatic. This is what I have to do. I’m walking over here. OK, I have to change the way I speak. I have to change the way people perceive me, which is sad because it’s tough. It’s almost like you’re switching on the switch to be a different person. You can’t really be yourself,” said Godwell.
And, maybe, that’s been the greatest gift; to be seen and heard.
“We wield so much power with our words and just being able to look at each other and have a communication and say I see you. In all honesty, in this country, black people are tired. It is exhausting being black every single day and having to defend yourself and speak a certain way. You’re angry, you’re too emotional, you’re dramatic and it’s just like what is a good balance? Where people can truly appreciate that the things that happen do affect us? And you just get to a point where you just don’t have a voice anymore. And so to have so many people show up and speak up for us and speak out for us as well. We’re growing up in a world where we can’t let kids be kids anymore. That they have to grow up faster than they needed to. Why? It’s not right. So right now we have the opportunity to change this world for them,” said Rue.
Sometimes, it’s the person right next door, reminding us it’s not a race, but a relay. And actions, really do, speak louder than words.
"There’s so much power in what we say. There’s a lot more power also in what we don’t say,” said Rue.
If you are interested in joining the weekly running club, just search “Black Lives Matter Bothell Run Club” on Facebook or click here.