COURTESY OF REBECCA MEHRA

Rebecca Mehra is a professional track athlete for Oiselle who lives and trains in Bend, Oregon, where she works for the Mayor of Bend and as a campaign manager on multiple city council races.

Can you tell us about your work in local politics? 

“As you know, a lot of sports have been canceled this season, including track. A few weeks ago, a political consultant I know asked me if I would be willing to manage two Bend City Council campaigns. And though the idea at first seemed a little crazy to think that I could be a professional athlete while running multiple campaigns, the fact that the season is pretty much nonexistent made it really possible. I know I’m not working on a presidential campaign, but as we’re all learning more and more, local politics make a huge difference in people’s everyday lives. And so if I can help make a positive impact by helping to elect two good candidates, then I’m happy to do it.”

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get involved? 

“Part of it is learning, and taking the steps to understand where other people come from and to understand the white privilege system. And donating is really important. Make sure you’re registered to vote. That’s a huge thing. A lot of young people A, don’t register and B, don’t vote. And then I would encourage people to get involved with a campaign of any kind. Volunteers are what drive campaigns, so there’ll be a lot of opportunities in the next five months before the election.”

How would you describe your reaction to the events of the last few weeks? 

“I’ve always been politically minded and politically oriented, but I haven’t spoken out on behalf of the Black Lives Matter movement publicly before, only kind of amongst friends. And I was disappointed with myself that I hadn’t because this crap is still happening to people in this country. People are still being killed just for what they look like. Ahmaud Arbery was killed running. That’s something I do everyday. And I don’t feel unsafe going outside. I never think that someone might shoot me in my neighborhood. That… that really hit home. It made me realize we’re being passively racist by not saying anything. I felt like it was time to start speaking up and raising my voice and using my voice, because I have one, to speak out against what’s going on.”

These are difficult times. What’s keeping you motivated?  

“I am a person of color, but I am not someone who is targeted on the streets. It’s really… Yeah. I can’t quite understand or feel how a lot of people are feeling. I’m doing my best to sympathize and in some cases empathize. We all need to work to amplify those voices. Especially if you feel like it’s not your battle or it’s not your conversation. Historically, it’s been almost entirely black women and black men who have been speaking up. But we need people who aren’t persecuted to also speak up and make a ruckus about what’s going on.”