Posted by Michael Andersen (Contributor) on June 17th, 2016 at 3:18 pm
There are as many ways to be a person who bikes as there are ways to be a person, and just as many ways to be a person of color.
That was part of the thinking shared by BikePortland reader Clement in a comment on yesterday’s post by Taz Loomans about how to get more racial and ethnic diversity into organized bike fun.
Here’s what Clement said:
I appreciate the suggestions for diversifying Portland’s bike events. I happen to be a person of color who bikes on a daily basis, but I have never been drawn to the Keep Portland Weird, circus-y aspects of what some see as Portland’s bike culture. Not doing the bike culture thing or cycling for sport, but just biking to get around (though I love my bikes!), I sometimes feel that I am not a legitimate part of Portland’s bike scene. That being said, I don’t think that it is a fair characterization when people equate Portland’s having a high portion of white people with meaning Portland is inherently racist. Having lived in the Detroit area and spent time in the South, I find that Portland’s history is not exceptionally racist. Pretty much all of the United States had a white supremacist history. Portland was never a major port of entry for immigrants, did not have a plantation economy, wasn’t a big part of the African-American migration north to the Northeast and Midwest, and was not a major economic engine that attracted people from all over the world like New York, Chicago, or LA. Its not surprising Portland isn’t very diverse – it’s kind of been a small, provincial city way out in the Northwest. But, it is growing, opening up more to the world – and isn’t without its growing pains. It’s my city. I like it.
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As other comments in the (generally constructive and thoughtful!) thread pointed out, reasonable people can probably differ over the depth of Portland’s historical and/or current racism compared to elsewhere. But our metro area is indeed getting gradually less homogeneous. Let’s hope we can also make it a city where all of us can build the lives we like.
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— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – email@example.com