After bear spray attack, a ‘Cycling Against Hate’ ride is planned for this Sunday

Posted by on September 19th, 2016 at 12:54 pm

A bike ride has been planned in response to an ugly incident that happened last week.

Cycling Against Hate, organized by Portlander (and BikePortland columnnist) Taz Loomans, will aim to show solidarity and “extend our love to those who were targeted.”

The incident that has stirred the community into action occurred on Tuesday night. According to the victims, a man on a bicycle rode by their car, sprayed bear repellent inside it, and yelled racist epithets as he pedaled away. The victims included two women ages 62 and 32 and three children ages 12, 11, and 7. The children were treated for exposure to the the toxic spray.

Police haven’t disclosed whether or not they have any solid leads or conclusions in the case, but say “due to the nature of the report” they have handed the case over to a bias crimes investigator. The alleged assailant is believed to be white or Hispanic and the victims are black.

Loomans, promoting her ride on a local email list, wrote that she is “really sad” about what she refers to as a “racially-motivated hate crime committed by a cyclist.” “I’d like to see an outcry from the cycling community towards this kind of behavior.”

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Here’s more from Loomans:

I really don’t know what I’m asking for other than banding together and loudly condemning this behavior from cyclists. I know we don’t have control over the actions of individual cyclists. But this is a good opportunity for the cycling community to say what their values are and that this kind of racially-motivated hate crime is completely against them. We band together to defend individual cyclists. Let’s have a cohesive response to this as well. And maybe this is a good opportunity to increase efforts on inclusivity and diversity inside the cycling community as well.

Last month Loomans organized the Immigration Ride and back in June she shared her six-point action plan for a more diverse Pedalpalooza.

The Cycling Against Hate ride will meet at the site of last week’s crime (NE Killingsworth and 9th) and will be short and slow. Learn more at the Facebook event page.

Meanwhile, a fundraising campaign has been set up for the family that was targeted. So far over $10,000 has been raised to help them pay for a new car and medical bills.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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230 Comments
  • Avatar
    Lester Burnham September 19, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Isn’t this a little premature? Besides are we 100% certain there weren’t racial epithets used against the bike rider? Lots of animosity due to recent gentrification. Just sayin’.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 19, 2016 at 1:10 pm

      Hi Lester,

      The ride is against hate. I realize we don’t know exactly what happened in this case… But it’s pretty obvious that hate in some form motivated actions. Our roads are filled with a lot of hate these days for a variety of reasons… So why not do a ride that spreads the message that hate sucks and love is better?

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      Kyle Banerjee September 19, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      Supposing for argument’s sake that there were (and we have no evidence that occurred), in what world would that justify dousing small kids with chemical spray?

      That the rider was even carrying the stuff speaks volumes. As for the notion that the spray was for self protection, is someone going to suggest that it has a chance of being effective against drivers behind closed windows? That it can be deployed effectively while in motion (don’t forget wind) in an urban environment?

      I don’t buy it. The spray was carried as an offensive weapon.

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        J.E. September 19, 2016 at 2:49 pm

        Considering the other news story of the day about a woman getting her face smashed in with a rock while cycling the Slough, I wouldn’t say pepper spray is not a potential defensive tool…

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        B. Carfree September 19, 2016 at 7:12 pm

        Hmm, my wife was just asking me to look into some sort of pepper spray she can deploy from the saddle. Between dogs and two-legged animals harassing her, I totally understand her desire to have a non-lethal defensive weapon and this might be an appropriate choice.

        I’m not excusing the alleged actions of the sprayer here in any way, shape or form. What he did looks about as wrong as can be.

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          Andrea Capp September 20, 2016 at 7:17 am

          B.Carfree, check out pepper gel. I carry it when I’m on my bike now. The gel is less likely to spray back in the wind and this kind in particular sprays up to 18′. I hope she never needs it! https://www.amazon.com/SABRE-RED-Pepper-Gel-Professional/dp/B004NKSPR8

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            B. Carfree September 20, 2016 at 4:33 pm

            Thanks, I’ll look into it. It’s depressing to be getting so old while our community is getting so uncivilized.

            Perhaps paradoxically, I strongly believe our cities can all work for everyone if we set ourselves to making it happen, but in the meantime I don’t want us to find ourselves foolishly unprepared for an incident that is clearly going to happen. Smiling and waving seems to be losing its magic.

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        Rob Chapman September 20, 2016 at 6:22 am

        While I agree that pepper spraying kids is reprehensible I strongly disagree with your premise that carrying bear spray is indicative of some sort of deficient mindset.

        I’ve personally used a can of bear spray to stop a moose from stomping me into a mud hole when I lived in Anchorage. It charged me twice before it gave up. At the time I was on my way home from work on a multiuse trail minding my own.

        For people unwilling to carry a gun, bear spray isn’t the worst idea in the world.

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      Esther September 19, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      So that would justify bear spraying someone, much less three children? Maybe you should think about who you’re defending before you talk

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    Work Account September 19, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    I think its a nice show of support. I don’t agree with everything groups like this assert, but I will defend anyone’s right to assemble and exchange ideas.

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      Lester Burnham September 19, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      I’m against “hate” too, but not so sure an illustration of angry looking women of color with clinched fists exudes a feeling of racial harmony.

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        Work Account September 19, 2016 at 2:27 pm

        Yes, accordingly you’re welcome to make your own thing, and I will speak out against anyone who would try to stop you. Especially if I disagree with an aspect of what you’re doing, I will support it. That is the only support of free speech that matters. It’s easy to support things you agree 100% with. If any hate group want to march or do a bike ride, I will support their rights to express themselves too. Their right to publicly embarrass themselves with their outdated ideas is sacrosanct to me, as is yours.

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        BB September 19, 2016 at 3:46 pm

        Agreed, this has more the flavor of getting back at your imagined oppressor than anything else. Additionally I for one can’t get behind the idea that everyone who uses a bike is somehow represented by this occurrence, which is definitely the ongoing implication here.

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        Kate September 19, 2016 at 4:42 pm

        You see anger, I see determination.

        In any event, I can’t think of a single comment or provocation from children sitting in a car that could justify someone turning their bike around to come spray them through a window with bear spray. I’m fairly sure none exists.

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          rachel b September 19, 2016 at 10:38 pm

          Well said, Kate. I thought it (the graphic) was a play on Rosie the Riveter, who I never saw as threatening. She’s supposed to be tough.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. September 19, 2016 at 4:46 pm

        The people in the photo do not look at all angry to me. Is it because of the color of their skin that you are assuming anger?

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          BarBarian September 19, 2016 at 6:15 pm

          If I raised my fist to you with a taunting smirk on my face, fair to say you’d be pretty intimidated and would likely assume anger as well.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. September 19, 2016 at 6:17 pm

            I see determination and empowerment, not anger.

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              J_R September 19, 2016 at 8:42 pm

              If a motorist who had passed you closely on a neighborhood greenway was looking at you like that would you think she was being “determined and empowered?”

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            jered September 21, 2016 at 1:35 pm

            I raise my fist in solidarity often. other times as a gesture of power, if i put both up in the air, that gesture is often construed as VICTORY. If you’re at a concert and fists are in the air it is a signal of ROCKING OUT regardless of gender or race. So yeah, just take it to me rocking out in solidarity and the power of unity, which in the end leads to both fists in the air for victory.

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        Esther September 19, 2016 at 5:01 pm

        I suppose you think Rosie the Riveter, in the exact same pose and expression, looks angry? Hmm…I wonder why not…

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty September 19, 2016 at 5:07 pm

          I always thought she was angry… why else would she be making an obscene gesture?

          http://therealargentina.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Image-10-Aca.jpg

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. September 19, 2016 at 6:20 pm

          I always saw her as flexing her muscles, as to demonstrate the strength of women in the workforce.

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          rachel b September 19, 2016 at 10:39 pm

          Oops! Didn’t see this before making the same observation (above). Agreed, Esther!

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        Chris I September 19, 2016 at 7:42 pm

        Angry-looking? Oh man, you stepped in it big time.

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        stephen salter September 20, 2016 at 12:16 am

        it seems to me that you might want to ask yourself why this illustration causes you to have a defensive reaction. If people that don’t look like you displaying an empowered pose makes you uncomfortable than you might not in fact support the concept of equality. Historically dis-empowered people looking powerful is not a threat to your privileged position, it is not a zero sum game.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty September 20, 2016 at 1:33 am

          I see something completely different: I see a brief glimpse into an intimate scene in an uncertain but loving relationship between the central figure and an unseen intimate. The central figure exudes a flirtatious expression of anger, as if in reaction to a perhaps unintentionally provocative comment made by the unseen fourth, standing in the position of the viewer. The two flanking figures, appear as protectors of the central figure, expressing what might be interpreted as genuine annoyance, but lacking surprise at what has transpired, as if this is but another event in an ongoing repeating dynamic of which they have grown weary. Perhaps Lester, imagining himself in the place of the provocateur, is feeling threatened by a sense of uncertainty over what he might have said to trigger such a reaction, knowing he must produce a disarming statement, but is uncertain how to respond. What you see a portrayal of racial power seems to me to be an intimate scene rife with complex out-of-frame dynamics, allowing the viewer to impose his or her own feelings and experiences to complete the narrative. Where you see Lester expressing insufficient support for the concept of racial, gender, and/or religious equality, I see a lingering lack of confidence, perhaps relating stemming from self-esteem issues or a difficult relationship with his mother.

          Or, maybe, Lester was simply remarking on what he saw as an ironic symbol for unity, and reading any deeper into his reaction is simply pointless speculation.

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        Chloe Eudaly September 20, 2016 at 2:12 pm

        The image is based on the famous Rosie the Riveter poster which features a similarly clad white woman, with a similar expression, and her fist raised and the text “We Can Do It”. It’s not about anger, it’s about strength and determination.

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        soren September 21, 2016 at 8:46 am

        what exactly is wrong with angry women of color?

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. September 19, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    I will definitely be there.

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    Jess September 19, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    I was disturbed by this comment when I first read it and am even more disturbed now:
    http://bikeportland.org/2016/09/07/collision-chronicles-roadway-assault-on-north-skidmore-near-mlk-82916-191054#comment-6698681

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 19, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      yes. it is disturbing. i thought about whether to edit/delete that comment. it’s a tough call. would love to know your thoughts.

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        Kyle Banerjee September 19, 2016 at 2:32 pm

        I’d leave it up. There’s something weird about the large number of likes — maybe trolls just trying to rile people up here or fishing for an excuse to whine how they were censored.

        Ignoring the fact that it’s more than a little bit absurd to suggest one could deploy a holstered weapon and accurately shoot it while in motion on a bike during a critical situation, we know people don’t actually do this on any basis (including the person who posted it) or we would have heard it in the news.

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        MaxD September 19, 2016 at 3:39 pm

        I would leave the comment up. The commenter is not recommending anything illegal. They are recommending something I think is very dangerous and ill-advised. I think the comment prompted intelligent relies. I recently went on a ride with friends of friends who claim to occasionally carry guns on rides, or know others who do. I cannot imagine this ever helping anyone, but I think having a conversation about it may help someone to realize it is a bad idea.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. September 19, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      I am also highly disturbed by the individuals calling for cyclists to arm themselves and use deadly force. Guns never solve problems, only escalate them.

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      Middle of the Road guy September 19, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      I don’t see any link other than the fact that the words ‘pepper spray’ were used. They context of the comment in the link was about defending oneself. The bias crime was an attack on people who apparently did nothing to agitate the ‘cyclist’.

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    Jagur September 19, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    How do they know it was bear spray?

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      Spiffy September 19, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      hospital staff make that discover when trying to get it off one of the kids…

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      Chris I September 19, 2016 at 1:59 pm

      12oz can vs. 2oz bottle? Bear spray shoots over 10ft? I don’t know the victims, but I know that I can easily identify bear spray and pepper spray.

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        q`Tzal September 19, 2016 at 2:30 pm

        “Bear spray” doesn’t shoot further as a function of being “bear spray”, it merely has a higher capsaicin content than pepper spray meant for human use. 20% versus 5% capsaicin content I think if I remember correctly.

        Civilians can legally purchase regular pepper spray in canisters from 0.5 oz (keyfob) upwards to 10 oz that have an effective range of 15ft in either a cone shaped spray or a focused stream. Police versions usually have a range of 25ft or more.

        Bear spray is generally way more than is required for humans unless the tasers haven’t slowed them down yet. Also, long ago I saw it mentioned as a more reliable deterrent for aggressive dogs on long cross-country tours.

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    Josh Chernoff September 19, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    The fact that the guy was on a bike has been mentioned as much as it was really bothers me. I get why they did it and its because they need the publics help in finding this person (and I hope they do!), but even still it bugs me to no end that the bike has been featured in such a senseless crime. For me the bike it the true empathy machine. And Kudos to the organizers of this ride! I hope to get my family out to ride it 🙂

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    B. Carfree September 19, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    I probably missed something, but why is one of the fund-raising goals a new car? I’m not saying this is wrong, but I don’t see the connection.

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      Spiffy September 19, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      it says the car was totaled… I think it could be $500 to get oil based bear spray out of a car, so if their car wasn’t new or expensive it could be totaled… I’ve had insurance companies claim my used car was only worth a couple hundred and thus the needed repair made it a total loss…

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        B. Carfree September 19, 2016 at 7:03 pm

        Thank you. It makes sense that a big dose of bear spray might make a car unusable. I guess that’s (part of) what I missed. I was so focussed on the horror of the spray hitting the people that I created a big blind spot for the other damage.

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      Josh Chernoff September 19, 2016 at 1:55 pm

      I think they meant to say a new bike 😉

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      OrganicBrian September 19, 2016 at 3:03 pm

      The car replacement fundraiser is for $15,000. It would cost this much or more to remediate the pepper in the car??

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      Esther September 19, 2016 at 5:04 pm

      Some people need a car. Please come back and judge when you are a single parent with a job and three young kids. On second thought, don’t.

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        Eric Leifsdad September 20, 2016 at 12:49 am

        That was a fair question, not judging. But this “some people need a car” claim is inviting judgement, if only from madsen-riding single moms.

        This family relied on their car and it’s now unusable, ok. Nobody should need a car, and people should be nice to each other. And wow, let’s build a city where people don’t need to spend half (or even a quarter) of a year’s pay on a hyundai just to get around, while parking it in enough space for someone to build a house.

        I’m sure the conversation on driveportland.org (aka “O”-live?) is similar regarding the hit-and-run driver who killed this guy in a crosswalk on Greeley. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/cs/read.cfm?id=7554 Just today I saw a lot of cars driving very slowly in some sort of protest drive I think.

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        OrganicBrian September 20, 2016 at 1:36 am

        Obviously you misunderstood my comment, which was about fixing the car vs. buying a new one. The fundraiser is for $15,000, I would guess that the car could be fixed six times with that amount.

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    Sio September 19, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    B. Carfree
    I probably missed something, but why is one of the fund-raising goals a new car? I’m not saying this is wrong, but I don’t see the connection.
    Recommended 5

    Regarding the car, I was really curious too. I clicked through the link citing the fundraising for a new car and the page says that the mom is using food money for a rental car. I wonder if there was so much mace in the car that it was causing breathing problems and that’s why they need the rental.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty September 19, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    This was, of course, a reprehensible attack, but I think the fact that the attacker was on a bike is really only of passing interest, and says nothing about what we would consider the “cycling community”. If the attacker had used a Tri-Met bus to flee the scene, I would not expect bus riders to organize a response, and in this case I think there is no obligation for cyclists to respond.

    Opposing hate is always a good thing, so I’m not criticizing the ride or the motivations behind it; I’m just saying I think the connection to “cycling” is weak, and that a march against hate would be equally appropriate.

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      9watts September 19, 2016 at 9:57 pm

      Thank you, Hello, Kitty.

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      mran1984 September 19, 2016 at 11:30 pm

      This has nothing to do with cycling. The Oberlin style comments on here are pathetic. I ride seven days a week and have far more issues with oblivious, phone addicted pedestrians and cyclists with zero skill than most automobile traffic. It was nice before most of you arrived. It is worse everyday. Low rent in Boisie…go get it!

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        9watts September 21, 2016 at 12:53 pm

        Oberlin?

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    OrganicBrian September 19, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    The car replacement fundraiser is for $15,000. It would cost this much or more to remediate the pepper in the car??

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    Clark in Vancouver September 19, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    “…this behaviour by cyclists”
    What is that?! One person happens to be on a bike when they do something bad and it’s written in plural? This is classic outgroup homogeneity bias. If he was walking would they want the pedestrian community to “say what their values are”?
    Bizarre. All the other cyclists in the world did not pepper spray anyone. Bikes are tools. Anyone can hop on one and use it for whatever kind of trip they want.
    We need to totally deconstruct this notion of collective guilt.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty September 19, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      Sometimes I think that bicycles are the “you people” of the transportation world.

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        B. Carfree September 19, 2016 at 7:22 pm

        Sometimes?

        Perhaps I’m just old and cynical, but as much as I love riding (hey, I’ll go over 600,000 lifetime miles next year!) I pretty much feel like “you people” when dealing with law enforcement and local government staff.

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    Mike September 19, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    If it was a clown who committed this act would there be a clown against hate march? Just sayin’

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    Redhippie September 19, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    I just wonder if there would be as much solidarity and out cry if the ethnicities were reversed? I can remember back in the day when there were numerous cases of Black on White crime in the same area that barely registered.

    http://bikeportland.org/2007/01/19/attack-on-cyclists-not-an-aberration-2858

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      Middle of the Road guy September 19, 2016 at 4:30 pm

      You raise a valid point. I have to admit, when I first heard about the Fallon Smart tragedy my thought was that there would not have been nearly as much fanfare if it happened to a minority child on a street that was not dear to Portland hipsters.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty September 19, 2016 at 4:57 pm

        You mean somewhere like Columbia Blvd?

        That aside, things always appear more urgent when they are close to home. I do not believe that people’s outrage is because of Smart’s race; she was a member of the community, she was young, and her tragic death happened in a place many can relate to.

        Had she been of a different race, and those other factors were the same, I think you’d see a similar reaction from the public.

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      Esther September 19, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      Jonathan please remove this co.ment.

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        Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 19, 2016 at 10:55 pm

        Thanks for your feedback Esther. Can you explain to me a bit more why you are concerned abt this comment? Feel free to contact me directly if you’d rather.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty September 19, 2016 at 5:23 pm

      Do you honestly think that if a black man in spandex riding a road bike used racial epithets while spraying a car full of white children with bear spray that the media would have yawned and gone back to sleep?

      You don’t think it would have spawned a “ride against hate” and led to a fundraiser for medical bills and to buy the victim a replacement car?

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    martin September 19, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    nothing to do with ride, but I do not feel safe to ride my7 bicycle anymore. So many people so pissed at everything. Last time I did ride almost got hit. Just saw someone tonight riding his bike yelling at cars and filming their road rage WTF. He gives us all of us bicycle riders bad names. He was going north on SE Ladd. What the Hell is wrong everyone.

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      BarBarian September 19, 2016 at 6:12 pm

      By claiming that the actions of a single person have anything to do with anyone else that happens to also use a bicycle, you are part of the problem.

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      Chris I September 19, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      Filming road rage makes us look bad? Yelling at people for driving to fast makes us look bad?

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    pdxstreetcar September 19, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    I had read about this, then just found out the other day that the victims had actually been our neighbor and her kids! She was visiting her mom’s house with her kids in another part of town when/where the incident took place. We were really upset and didn’t know what we could do aside from let her know we’re here to help if she needs anything. Many thanks to Taz Loomans for organizing this ride! My husband will be there… unfortunately I can’t ride a bike for another month or so due to a recent surgery, so I won’t be able to make it.

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    Scott Kocher September 20, 2016 at 10:09 am

    For me, the reason it feels a little bit right to respond to this person’s act is that “we” have been wrongly associated with it. The first thing I saw was the Oregonian’s “Cyclist Attacks Portland Kids.” My to-do list doesn’t include walking people through this.

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      9watts September 20, 2016 at 10:20 am

      But if ‘we’ have been wrongly associated with this, then surely standing up as a ‘we’ and renouncing that behavior can also be understood by those same folks as reifying that first ‘we,’ no? I think that is what some here are concerned about.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty September 20, 2016 at 10:28 am

        But why should I have any obligation to repudiate the actions of someone I have never met and have no association with, just because he wore spandex? It’s like asking Muslims to renounce ISIS. It’s ridiculous. There is no need to “rectify”.

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          9watts September 20, 2016 at 10:29 am

          We agree 100%.
          I am assuming you were intending to respond to Scott?

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty September 20, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Uh…. sure!

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty September 20, 2016 at 10:51 am

      Ugh… it’s been a rough morning.

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    Elena C. September 20, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Can the organizers please clarify whether the family is supportive of this being a bike ride (specifically) in their honor? The motivation is understandable but given their fresh trauma I hope the ride has their blessing, as it could be entirely off point to push a bush of bikes down their street (or that of their relatives).

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    Sarah Iannarone September 20, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Lester Burnham
    Isn’t this a little premature? Besides are we 100% certain there weren’t racial epithets used against the bike rider? Lots of animosity due to recent gentrification. Just sayin’.
    Recommended 6

    I’m not sure what you mean by “racial epithets used against the bike rider.” How can a black person in America use racial epithets against a white person? This is impossible. Reverse racism is a myth of white supremacy: it DOES NOT EXIST.

    Could there have been animosity? Yes. Could there have been prejudice toward the cyclist? Yes. But by definition, in America, black people CANNOT be racist toward white people.

    I encourage all of us to cultivate a deeper understanding of these issues. I have linked below to an article by Tim Wise that unpacks the “Myth of Reverse Racism” for those interested in exploring it further.

    http://tinyurl.com/cvojkt

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. September 20, 2016 at 2:31 pm

      I wish I could upvote this comment 100 times.

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        rain panther September 20, 2016 at 3:03 pm

        For real. I appreciate this loud and clear cutting to the chase.

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      Lester Burnham September 20, 2016 at 2:39 pm

      Sorry but the “silliness” of the epithets does not negate the intent or feelings behind them.

      Before we can all “cultivate a deeper understanding”, we need to stop making certain racial groups exempt from cleaning up their act.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty September 20, 2016 at 3:01 pm

      “Reverse racism” doesn’t exist, but racism sure does, and it’s practiced by all groups. To say that black people cannot be racist against whites is simply inane. Of course they can.

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        rain panther September 20, 2016 at 3:11 pm

        If you think racism means not liking someone because of their race, then I suppose you’d be correct that anyone can qualify.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty September 20, 2016 at 3:15 pm

          That’s not what it means. Racism is a belief that others are inferior, or that you are superior, based on your/their race. It has nothing to do with liking or disliking anyone, though racist beliefs may lead you towards a predilection to dislike those you consider inferior.

          PS I love your handle!!

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            rain panther September 20, 2016 at 3:36 pm

            It’s definitely not a matter of liking/disliking, and I apologize for that lazy characterization on my part. I guess my point is it’s one of those words that has multiple meanings that range from very broad to somewhat more focused. In this case, I tend to think the more specific usage is the more helpful, useful one. My idea of racism involves a belief that the people on top are there because they inherently deserve to be there and the OTHER people – the ones who are an OTHER race – are getting the crappy end of the stick because they are inherently less deserving. This concept of racism relies on there being a dynamic of domination and oppression. I think this way of looking at it creates a necessary distinction between racism and run-of-the-mill prejudice or bigotry. After all, why have all these different words if we don’t use them to say different things?

            PS, Thanks. Usually I figure it’s the kind of thing only I think is funny.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty September 20, 2016 at 3:50 pm

              I think those three words: racism, bigotry, and prejudice, are all different.

              Racism is the belief that you are superior based on race; bigotry puts that more into action, so to speak, by making statements or acting on a racist belief; and prejudice is pre-judging someone based on how they appear, or what group they are in, but before you’ve given them a chance to speak as an individual (and can manifest itself in many non-racial situations).

              Those are clumsy definitions, but capture my understandings of the different words.

              An oppressive system built on racist beliefs is very different — that’s a political construct with different names in different places (at least where it’s been formalized), like Apartheid, for example. You would never say that Apartheid _is_ racism, would you?

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                rain panther September 20, 2016 at 4:08 pm

                I’d say Apartheid was a prime example of systemic, institutionalized racism. But I’d also say that it hardly makes sense to call any of the oppressed people within that system “racist” regardless of their opinions of the white people who benefitted from the continuation of that oppression.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 20, 2016 at 4:43 pm

                In America, could a Korean be racist towards a black person? How about the reverse?

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                rain panther September 21, 2016 at 6:30 am

                As for whether a Korean could “be racist towards a black person”, I don’t want this to sound dismissive, but my response is basically “who cares?”
                There isn’t a long and far-reaching history of oppression and marginalization of black Americans by Korean Americans. I guess that’s why I say that I think a more narrow definition of racism is more helpful or potentially more productive – because it attempts to address the more devastatingly widespread social issue.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 10:30 am

                Anyone living in Los Angeles cares. It’s a huge issue there that has led to violence on multiple occasions, all in our recent history.

                For people there dealing with racial animosity directed towards them from other racial groups, it is a real, and ongoing issue.

                The issue of racism and racial oppression in our country is very complex, and trying to boil it down to a simple narrative of whites oppressing blacks does us all a disservice, and will never lead to a solution.

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        Sarah Iannarone September 20, 2016 at 3:23 pm

        Dear Hello Kitty,
        It’s clear you don’t understand racism as a concept: black people cannot be racist against whites in America. Blacks can be biased, prejudiced, and even violent against whites here– but they cannot be racist.

        In the U.S., racism is a system of oppression whereby white people collectively benefit from privileges based on the color of their skin. Black people, based on the color of their skin, do not benefit from these same privileges. Without the benefit of privilege based on skin color, racism is not possible. Unless a person stands to benefit as a member of a dominant group over another less privileged group, they cannot be racist toward that person.

        And please, don’t ask me to address that broke white person over there who doesn’t seem to be benefiting from her white privilege. There are assorted and intersecting oppressions and privileges any given individual in a society can experience (race, class, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, etc…. heck, even their mode of transport). All sorts of people experience various degrees and dimensions of privilege and discrimination every day. This in no way undermines the fact that a) racism exists and b) people of color in the U.S. cannot be racist against whites, period.

        Sincerely,
        Sarah

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          9watts September 20, 2016 at 3:26 pm

          I’m intrigued that this conversation has motivated not one but two well-known political candidates to pipe up here. I hope this is a trend!

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            rain panther September 20, 2016 at 3:40 pm

            Well, to be clear, I haven’t officially thrown my hat into the ring… yet.

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              Dan A September 21, 2016 at 1:48 pm

              Please run against Amanda Fritz.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. September 20, 2016 at 3:38 pm

          Without the benefit of privilege based on skin color, racism is not possible.

          Yes, this exactly.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty September 20, 2016 at 3:43 pm

          All I can say is that your definition of racism does not fit with most mainstream definitions of the word. To be racist towards someone means that you believe a person is inferior based on their race. Many people of all races hold these feelings.

          The system of oppression you describe is an outgrowth of racism in our particular historical context. It is not, in itself, racism.

          I don’t mean to quibble about this, but you are making a rather bold, simple statement that just isn’t true.

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          Chris I September 20, 2016 at 9:28 pm

          You are confusing racism and systemic racism or oppression. Any individual, of any race can be racist. Open a dictionary.

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            rain panther September 21, 2016 at 6:20 am

            We can all open dictionaries and still have differing opinions and interpretations of what words mean. A dictionary is just a book that attempts to capture the (often scattershot and sometimes conflicting) definitions of words in a language. People actually make language.

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              dan September 21, 2016 at 7:38 am

              And yet, you take issue with HK’s definition of racism…

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                rain panther September 21, 2016 at 10:35 am

                I don’t see a contradiction there. If by “take issue with” you mean I have a different point of view, then yes I do.

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              Chris I September 21, 2016 at 9:40 am

              Without at least some basis for common definition, language fails to function. Definitions can change over time, but they need to be consistent. And yes, people can hold different opinions, but certain opinions are more accurate than others. Sometimes in life, there are right and wrong answers.

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                rain panther September 21, 2016 at 10:24 am

                What I’m saying is when there is more than one definition for a given word, then it’s worthwhile to debate the merits of those various definitions. It’s simply not true to assume that there exists a single definition for each word in the English language. I feel like everybody is getting very hung up on the correctness of their chosen definition rather than talking about why they’ve made that their choice.
                I’m not claiming my interpretation is the only correct interpretation – I’m not even especially concerned with being correct. I just happen to think my interpretation may be more conducive to productive discussion, in the sense that it acknowledges a gross, pervasive inequality in our society.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 10:27 am

              It is interesting that every online dictionary I consulted agreed with one another, and Wikipedia’s article on the matter, while more nuanced, basically said the same thing. I think I am on pretty firm ground in declaring that the definition of the word racism that I used here is the generally accepted definition. You are free to invent your own definitions, of course, though I see no need to in this case since “racial oppression” woks perfectly well.

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                rain panther September 21, 2016 at 10:49 am

                Well, this is growing tiresome – particularly now that the tone is becoming more combative and insulting. I haven’t invented a definition; I’ve simply made a choice about which of the existing definitions I choose to apply in this context.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 11:02 am

                It is true that you did not invent the definition you are using, but it is also true that your definition is not generally accepted. It seems that if you want to avoid semantic argument like what this sub-thread has devolved into, you could express your arguments without relying on catchphrases and redefinitions championed by the far left.

                If you were to rely on the “plain definitions” of words, you would make a much more impactful argument.

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                rain panther September 21, 2016 at 11:18 am

                Again, you’re falling back on this notion of re-definition. Only now, you’ve added in references to “catchphrases” and political leftiness, just for good measure. I thought this had the potential to be a good discussion, but it’s turning out to be just another damn argument – complete with unsolicited insults and dogged insistence on winning the argument, aka: being right (which naturally can only be achieved by proving someone else wrong, right?)

                Um, c’est la vie, I guess?

                Later, alligator.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 11:26 am

                Take a look back at where this conversation took a wrong turn, and let me repeat the most important part of what I wrote:

                If you were to rely on the “plain definitions” of words, you would make a much more impactful argument.

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                rain panther September 21, 2016 at 12:28 pm

                And perhaps if you were to resist the urge to default to what you think is the “plain definition”, you might be able to take part in a more nuanced and less contentious conversation. I’ll assume, however, that you don’t want my advice when it comes to choosing your words any more than I need yours.
                Like I’ve already said, I was ok with this discussion when it actually was a discussion. For me, where it really took a wrong turn was when it became personally disparaging. I don’t enjoy having my viewpoint dismissively reduced to “catchphrases and redefinitions championed by the far left” and I don’t much like the suggestion that I should endeavor to avoid future disagreements by preemptively altering my viewpoint on a subject to fit with the majority perception.

                And, with that, I once again bid you hasta la vista, alligator.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 12:37 pm

                It was not my intent to be dismissive — if you’ve read my other posts on the topic of dismissiveness, you’ll know where I stand on the issue.

                The point I was trying to convey was when one uses politicized language to discuss an issue, when non-politicized language is available, it distracts and detracts from the conversation.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. September 21, 2016 at 12:58 pm

                If you find yourself arguing over the literal definition of the word “racism”, then it’s obvious that you just don’t get it. Ask a victim of oppression what racism means to them, and you’ll have a better idea of what racism means.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 1:04 pm

                Words are important, especially so when dealing with politically charged subjects. Politicized definitions often contain a number of hidden assumptions that go unchallenged.

                The question I would ask is “how has racism affected you?”

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. September 21, 2016 at 1:09 pm

                I have a feeling that the white supremacists that are currently rising to power are not arguing over the dictionary definition of “racism”.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 1:10 pm

                I’m sure they’re not. They are using their own codewords and hidden definitions.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. September 21, 2016 at 1:19 pm

                Are they? The ones making headlines seem VERY clear on their intentions.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 3:22 pm

                Yes, I think they are. That you understand those codewords does not mean they aren’t being used.

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          El Biciclero September 23, 2016 at 10:19 am

          “racism is a system of oppression whereby white people collectively benefit from privileges based on the color of their skin.”

          This definition sounds as though either a) individuals cannot be racist, because racism is a system, or b) all white folks are racist because they have privilege in this system.

          Both of those things sound wrong, so I am either misinterpreting this definition, or it is missing some pieces.

          The way it was explained to me long ago, is that I can only be a racist as an individual if I hold racist (or prejudiced, or biased based on race) beliefs, AND live in a system that will “back me up” in those beliefs. merely living in the system or having some sort of privilege does not make me a racist. Inversely, holding racist beliefs, but living in the wrong “system”, does not make one a racist, although one can still certainly hold those kinds of beliefs.

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      pruss2ny September 20, 2016 at 5:23 pm

      Tim Wise piece admittedly confused me where he allowed at the end that reverse racism could become a conversation point:

      “When white churches start getting burned down by militant blacks who spray paint “kill the honkies” on the sidewalks outside, then maybe I’ll take seriously these concerns over ‘reverse racism.’ ”

      This doesn’t suggest that reverse racism “cannot” or “does not” exist. It also confuses the connection to institutionalized racism.

      Am trying to use Sarah’s post to educate myself, but I come away wondering if we already accept that racial animosity and racial prejudice exist, is anything gained by vilifying someone for using the term “racism” when someone else thinks the term should be “racial animosity”?

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty September 20, 2016 at 5:32 pm

        I just want to say that the term “reverse racism” bothers me — there’s nothing to reverse. It’s just racism, no matter who is involved. Also, racism does not automatically lead to animosity (although it certainly does in some people).

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          Pruss2ny September 20, 2016 at 6:00 pm

          Hk- agree, just annoyed with sloppiness of his argument

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          JeffS September 20, 2016 at 9:38 pm

          I believe you’re operating with an outdated definition of the word racism.

          Most black people, and all SJW’s will be quick to tell you that black people can’t be racist.

          Notice Sarah below representing the SJW position. Convenient isn’t it to make a white person who dislikes black a more serious “thing” than a black person who dislikes whites (not that they exist, of course).

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            Chris I September 21, 2016 at 9:41 am

            What about a black person that dislikes Asians? I know that exists, but apparently, that isn’t racism? What the heck is it, then?

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            rain panther September 21, 2016 at 10:28 am

            Your use of “SJW” strikes me as a convenient way to dismiss the validity of someone else’s viewpoint and opinions in ad hominem fashion. Hopefully that wasn’t your intent, but just so you know, that’s the way it comes across to me.

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    mf September 20, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Why using the dictionary definition of racism just doesn’t work: http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/03/dictionary-definition-racism/

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    Sarah Iannarone September 20, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    I see where you’re coming from, HK. This is an important conversation, so I want to push back just a bit– if only because I get the sense we might be able to end up in the same page.

    “Mainstream” or not, I very carefully qualified my explanation of racism in the American context. In other places around the world, there may be racial majorities that dominate others where skin color is not the defining characteristic between the groups. However, in the U.S., racism is a system in which people with white privilege enforce & reinforce their power and privilege over Blacks (and POC more generally) through political, economic and institutional means. Here, white-skinned people (even if they do not personally identify as white) may benefit from white privilege.

    A person can only be racist toward another person when they are member of the dominant social group. Racism– again, by definition –cannot be exercised by a member of a subordinate group against a member of a dominant group; thus, Blacks in the U.S. cannot be racist to whites. They can be prejudiced, biased, angry, heck, they can be downright deplorable hating assholes, but they simply can’t be racist.

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      JeffS September 20, 2016 at 9:45 pm

      I first heard a black professor propose this same definition in 1991. I thought he was a fool then. 25 years later, I find myself embarrassed to have cast a vote for someone who believes this drivel.

      The obvious implication is that a black person who hates whites isn’t as big of a problem as a white person who hates blacks.

      If nothing else, the idea that all white people have influence is patently absurd.

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        9watts September 20, 2016 at 9:46 pm

        Can you imagine that there might be a collective dimension to this phenomenon?

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          JeffS September 20, 2016 at 9:54 pm

          In relation to what? White people as a group have influence? Black people as a group want to downplay their prejudice? I’m not sure which phenomenon you’re referencing.

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            9watts September 20, 2016 at 10:01 pm

            I don’t have a horse in this race, but your response struck me as skipping over the fact that racism as expressed or felt by an individual occurs within a larger context, a set of conditions that reinforce and also sometimes render invisible one set of attitudes, while not facilitating the inverse.

            You wrote (sarcastically) that: “a black person who hates whites isn’t as big of a problem as a white person who hates blacks.”

            I think what some folks here have been saying is that the ‘problem’ arises when the disdain a white person exhibits fits within a very longstanding set of conditions that do a lot of mostly invisible work. Driving while brown or black could be an example we might consider here. It simply doesn’t work the other way around.

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              JeffS September 20, 2016 at 10:21 pm

              I wasn’t sarcastic. It was a serious statement. I’m not wrong in believing that this is also your position right?

              Yes, there are historical problems; systemic problems.
              The thoughts of one individual are still just the thoughts of one individual though. Holding two random people to different standards strikes me as illogical.

              Once upon a time, the position was that we wanted everyone treated equally. Before that ever really happened, the bar was moved and now we need people treated differently again? It was a great plan. Only if the goal was to spur racial animosity.

              ——

              Anyway, I’m done here. It’s not really the place to be having race discussions. I’m sure I’ll be pegged a racist for daring to dissent.

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                9watts September 21, 2016 at 7:33 am

                “I wasn’t sarcastic. It was a serious statement.”

                I’m confused. I’ve re-read your post a bunch of times and I still see you identifying that statement with the professor you thought a fool.

                “I’m not wrong in believing that this is also your position right?”

                I would say that my position is that in the context of racism (=193 black men killed by US police this year to date) the issue is this pattern of violence and the attitudes that are used to justify it.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty September 20, 2016 at 10:57 pm

              Do you suggest an obligation to feel collective guilt?

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                9watts September 21, 2016 at 7:15 am

                I suggest that we should be mindful of the collective dimension; not sure about the guilt part.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 9:48 am

                I was raised with a philosophy that individuals should be judged as such, not as members of a collective.

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                9watts September 21, 2016 at 10:59 am

                Are we judging individuals or are we discussing a social phenomenon: racism?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 11:08 am

                Well that’s a good point. I am most interested in the area where those two intersect. Discussing the phenomenon is difficult for me because it tends to lead to “guilt by association,” which I firmly and categorically reject, as we all should.

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                9watts September 21, 2016 at 11:12 am

                I think it is simply a fact (we now have a legal category called hate crimes, after all) that when someone does something untoward that can be recognized as racist or as having a racist dimension we treat it differently than if a very similar untoward act is committed without the racist component.

                A black police officer shooting and killing an unarmed black person (happened again this week) fits the pattern, and is I think (Sarah Iannarone’s point of view notwithstanding) still racist, or part of the racist culture that our police unfortunately are having great difficulty letting go.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 11:21 am

                You are no doubt aware that the concept of hate crimes (which I reluctantly support) is not uncontroversial… rather than punish the deed, we are punishing the personal beliefs of the person who committed the deed, a concept I am not comfortable with.

                I think part of the problem with analyzing the problems with the police and the black community is that the root cause is not in fact racism, but tribalism (with race being an important but not critical criteria for membership in a tribe). Thinking of it in this way makes it easier to understand why a black officer might commit a horrific act against another black man, and makes it possible to see why an officer who is not racist might still shoot an unarmed suspect.

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                9watts September 21, 2016 at 11:29 am

                “You are no doubt aware that the concept of hate crimes (which I reluctantly support) is not uncontroversial…”
                Yes.

                “…makes it possible to see why an officer who is not racist might still shoot an unarmed suspect.”

                This seems like an interesting statement. Perhaps we’re getting somewhere. I’d like to think that what is going on in this example is that the black officer is part of/has bought into a system that is racist (often referred to as institutional racism) and by shooting and killing an unarmed black man who in most other societies would not be automatically assumed to be a threat or worth killing, he is participating in, reifying this racist system where black people are assumed to be dangerous and killing them is somehow a logical extension of this assumption. I admit that his being black complicates things on the individual level, but think that the act still suggests one of the ways racism (collectively) works.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 11:43 am

                I absolutely agree that the concept of threat perception is the key here. Of course, it is not the “system” that perceives a threat, but rather an individual officer who chooses to pull the trigger. Why is that?

                I think relying on a blanket charge of “racism” in such cases hides a much deeper complexity (and leads to some real cognitive dissonance if you accept Sarah’s statement that a black officer cannot be “racist” [using her definition] in this context).

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty September 20, 2016 at 10:53 pm

      [Confidential to Sarah… you’ll probably get less angry with my post if you read it from the bottom up, because we will, eventually, end up on what I think is the same page.]

      I’m sorry – I just can’t get over your misuse of the word racism. It just means something different than what you are describing. To avoid this conversation devolving in to a semantic argument, I’m going to respond to your comments as if you wrote “racial oppression” instead, understanding that you meant in the modern American context. That’s still not quite the right phrase, but I hope that is not objectionable.

      >>> [Racial oppression] is a system in which people with white privilege enforce & reinforce their power and privilege over Blacks (and POC more generally) through political, economic and institutional means. Here, white-skinned people (even if they do not personally identify as white) may benefit from white privilege. <<>> A person can only [commit racial oppression] toward another person when they are member of the dominant social group. <<<

      This statement, I believe, is the meat of your argument, and here, at last, we agree (or at least close enough for a discussion in blog comments).

      This opens up an interesting question. What does it mean for an average white American, who considers themselves not racist in the traditional meaning, to “oppress”, in a typical context? Or is it possible for a person to move through their life without "oppressing" others?

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 9:54 am

        Just as a quick note here, this is only about half my post. WordPress butchered my post, which I tried 4 times. Jonathan apparently removed the other three attempts, along with my profanity laced rant against WordPress.

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          Ted Timmons (Contributor) September 21, 2016 at 1:04 pm

          I see the profanity and the duplicates (at least #2 and #3). I don’t see there is much more in them than was posted here.

          Jonathan tends to sign his redactions.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 1:06 pm

            I only see the first attempt.

            I want to be clear that I am not complaining — I would remove the dupes as well, and also the profanity post, which was clearly an expression of frustration.

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    Katie September 21, 2016 at 3:09 am

    Back to the original news item…

    Thank you to the organizer of the ride. I am glad to see some action in public to denounce the attack. I also made a small donation. I understand that the bear spray can’t be cleaned and the car is totalled. If lots of us donate a little each, we can help this family.

    Research shows that hate crimes are spurred or reduced by the public words and actions of visible, influential cultural figures. We need to work in visible, public ways to oppose hate crimes.

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    Redhippie September 21, 2016 at 8:35 am

    Interesting, kind of like the Catholic notion of being born into “original sin”. Doesn’t matter what kind of person you are or your values, you are always in the wrong due to your race.

    Sarah Iannarone
    Dear Hello Kitty,
    It’s clear you don’t understand racism as a concept: black people cannot be racist against whites in America. Blacks can be biased, prejudiced, and even violent against whites here– but they cannot be racist.
    In the U.S., racism is a system of oppression whereby white people collectively benefit from privileges based on the color of their skin. Black people, based on the color of their skin, do not benefit from these same privileges. Without the benefit of privilege based on skin color, racism is not possible. Unless a person stands to benefit as a member of a dominant group over another less privileged group, they cannot be racist toward that person.
    And please, don’t ask me to address that broke white person over there who doesn’t seem to be benefiting from her white privilege. There are assorted and intersecting oppressions and privileges any given individual in a society can experience (race, class, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, etc…. heck, even their mode of transport). All sorts of people experience various degrees and dimensions of privilege and discrimination every day. This in no way undermines the fact that a) racism exists and b) people of color in the U.S. cannot be racist against whites, period.
    Sincerely,
    Sarah
    Recommended 11

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Hey there,

    >>> This is just a test of a theory about why WP ate my post last night. <<>> My guess is that the previous line will get eaten for WP’s lunch <<>> If so, that’s just what I would expect from the software <<<

    Given my affection for WP.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Ok, I understand what went wrong… it was my choice of quoting convention, and a misunderstanding of what a valid HTML tag looks like from the fine developers of WordPress. Thanks!

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 12:50 pm

        One more test…
        >>> Quote 1 <<<
        A block between
        >>> And a second quote <<<
        and a final line

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 12:51 pm

          Ok, I found my work around!

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            9watts September 21, 2016 at 12:52 pm

            are we still talking about racism?

            😉

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 12:53 pm

              Yes — it turns out the solution is purely technical.

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    Sarah Iannarone September 21, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    I’ve tried over the years not to get drawn into online arguments because more often than not, they devolve into pissing contests over semantics (which appears to have happened here) rather than a collaborative search for meaning & truth.

    The point of my original comment was not to privilege or diminish any individual’s experience of race in America. I know it’s a clusterf*ck out there and there’s a lot of hate coming from all sides.

    However, as a White anti-racist, it’s important to me to continue pressing conversations wherever I can about White privilege, systematic oppression, and racism.

    If we pull out of the weeds of semantic argument here, we might be able to look beyond the dictionary definition of racism (as word) to the concept of racism as social phenomena. What sociologists and other scholars are grappling with (not “SJWs” or “lefties” but experts in their fields who earn their living theorizing and testing and publicly debating challenging, dynamic ideas) is that White people as a group cannot be victims of racism, despite their personal interracial experiences or relationships. They are different units of analysis: one is social; the other, individual.

    Regardless an individual’s experience of prejudice, no one on this thread has convinced me that racism against white people (if it were theoretically possible) is actually a significant problem in the U.S. today.

    Ultimately, my point in talking about racism is to highlight and deal with its consequences. For people with White privilege, slurs against them based on skin color might be insulting, rude, even hateful… But for people who do not have white privilege, racism can mean the difference between access to healthcare, housing, work, education, economic prosperity and –as we see in news reports daily– life itself.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. September 21, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      Also worth noting that “whiteness” in America is a social construct and not 100% tied to a person’s skin color. The white supremacists certainly do not see me as white, even though I have light-colored skin and still benefit from white privilege.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 2:14 pm

        Congratulations, Adam H.! You have finally said something on this topic that I agree with!

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 2:24 pm

          And I’ll add that this is one of the reasons why I don’t think of “white privilege” as a racial thing, but a class or tribal thing. Race is a very flawed metric of who is in or who is out.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 2:11 pm

      I think you could sidestep the semantic arguments if you avoided the use of politicized language when discussing the problem. You don’t need that language, and it can be a crutch to avoid confronting the implicit assumptions that often underlie it.

      I would guess the vast majority of Portlanders would consider themselves “anti-racist.” I know I certainly do. And yet, when this topic comes up, I somehow always feel that I am being either implicitly or explicitly blamed for something I don’t think I did. I think we need a way to get past that in order to have a more productive conversation about the very real issues that we both see around us. If “being white” is the problem (and I’m not saying you’re saying that), I don’t see a solution.

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        Mossby Pomegranate September 21, 2016 at 2:24 pm

        Sadly, you being blamed for something you don’t feel responsible for will never end. It just does not fit the narrative.

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        soren September 23, 2016 at 10:16 am

        consider themselves “anti-racist.”

        and they have friends who are african american too.

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      JeffS September 21, 2016 at 11:02 pm

      “Regardless an individual’s experience of prejudice, no one on this thread has convinced me that racism against white people (if it were theoretically possible) is actually a significant problem in the U.S. today.”

      I don’t think anyone here is trying to do that.

      If your goal is to change minds, labeling people as oppressors from birth is going to be counterproductive.

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    Taz Loomans September 21, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    This just in from a neighbor of the family that was attacked:

    “Just so you know, this ride means a lot to the whole family. The grandmother and kids DID feel scared of bikers after the incident. When they heard about the ride the grandmother said (word by word!) “That’s wonderful! Now I don’t have to hate bikers any more!” That might sound simplistic and I am sure you will get some mansplaining about how “dumb” that is. But that is how she feels, and this ride is healing for them. It is a gift for them. It is not “pointless” to them. At all. They feel safer because of it.”

    Yay for community and helping each other heal and feel that we’ve got each other’s back.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 4:51 pm

      Defending bigotry with a sexist comment. I like your sense of irony!

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        Mossby Pomegranate September 21, 2016 at 4:57 pm

        Narrative.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. September 21, 2016 at 4:58 pm

        You can’t be sexist against men for all the same reasons we have already discussed regarding racism.

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          Brian September 21, 2016 at 5:02 pm

          An interesting article I came across while preparing some lesson plans. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/03/the-audacity-of-talking-about-race-with-the-klu-klux-klan/388733/

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 5:11 pm

            I heard this guy on NPR. He’s fascinating, and quite brave.

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            9watts September 21, 2016 at 9:23 pm

            Thanks, Brian. That was an excellent read.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty September 21, 2016 at 5:58 pm

          Having grown up in an environment where I was taught to be respectful of everyone, these rules about which groups are allowed to make stereotypical and insulting remarks about which other groups are really confusing to me.

          Could we just agree not to make disparaging remarks about any group*, and agree that intolerance against anyone based on group membership* is bad?

          *Except coal rollers. I reserve the right to say mean things about them.

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          BikeSlobPDX September 22, 2016 at 1:23 pm

          Hmm, let’s see about that:

          Full Definition of sexism
          1
          : prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially : discrimination against women
          2
          : behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex

          nope, doesn’t say “only against women”.

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        Laurie September 22, 2016 at 3:07 am

        ***This comment has been deleted. Your comments will not be published unless you change your tone and treat others with respect. Thank you. – Jonathan ***

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          Laurie September 22, 2016 at 1:42 pm

          Oh I won’t be commenting further. Thank you for moderating; I would have deleted it myself if that were possible.

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      9watts September 21, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      OK, I’ll bite.

      “Now I don’t have to hate bikers any more!” That might sound simplistic and I am sure you will get some mansplaining about how ‘dumb’ that is. But that is how she feels, and this ride is healing for them.”

      I see two possible ways to go at this – this being Grandma’s misconception that what happened to her family was somehow wrapped up in the person’s being on a bike; that his bikeyness was important to making sense of the experience.

      (A) Engage in just the kind of conversation we’re having here—and I’ll highlight Hello, Kitty’s much upvoted comment upthread—noting that his being on a bike or skateboard or riding a bus or in a car or doing the dog paddle does not in any way meaningfully help us understand what he’s about, or for that matter what bikey folk are about; and I’d venture that thinking of this as emanating from an outgroup Grandma isn’t familiar with says more about Grandma than about bikey folk. Or

      (B) Risk reifying this notion that bikey folk are a tribe, are responsible for each others’ transgressions, which this ride, as presented, is meant to counter, but in countering it qua bikey folk we elegantly and summarily also confirm grandma’s misconception in so far as she thinks of bikers as speaking for each other. That there is something bikey we are here to wash away.
      Bear Spray/Terrible Experience -> hate all bikers;
      Ride Against Hate/Good Experience -> don’t have to hate them anymore.

      I’d rather not deal in these tropes. I think trying to interrogate stereotypes through conversation holds more promise in the long run.

      People hold all kinds of misconceptions. Not so long ago we had a kerfuffle where the BTA tried through a graphic* to counter the notion that bikey folk don’t pay their way. They bungled it so badly that Bob Huckaby danced circles around them and ODOT tore them limb from limb, even though the basic fact the BTA was trying to get across was/is true. If we hope to root out misconceptions we’ll want to avoid making things worse, digging the misconception hole deeper, fanning the flames of outgroup thinking. As I think this example shows, this is a real possibility.

      * http://bikeportland.org/2013/11/12/do-bikes-get-a-free-ride-advocates-infographic-shows-why-not-96950

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. September 21, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    I’m so glad the family is in support of this ride. 😀 Thanks for the update!

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. September 21, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    While we were all debating the dictionary definition of racism, white supremacists defaced a statue of a Jewish leader.

    http://bizj.us/1obr68

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      Mossby Pomegranate September 21, 2016 at 4:58 pm

      Leader of what?

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. September 21, 2016 at 5:44 pm

        She was the mayor of Portland and a state representative.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty September 22, 2016 at 2:09 am

      Do you feel those two things are connected?

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        soren September 23, 2016 at 10:11 am

        they are symptoms of a pervasive societal cancer.

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    Steph Routh September 22, 2016 at 7:10 am

    Thank you for organizing this, Taz. Thank you for writing about it, Jonathan. Particularly in light of news of the most recent deaths of Black people in our nation’s streets killed by police officers, an event building bridges between transportation advocacy and racial justice is both needed and welcome.

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    Elly September 22, 2016 at 9:22 am

    For the people who are made uncomfortable by this ride to the point where you’re spending a whole lot of time and energy commenting and arguing, I urge you to deeply consider why that is, and also to join us!

    Trust me, everything makes a lot more sense and difficult issues are way less stressful when you’re talking about it (or better, listening) in that new-fangled social media app, a group of people physically gathered in one space. Thank you Taz for making that happen.

    I’ll see you all there.

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      9watts September 22, 2016 at 10:35 am

      I think very highly of you, Elly, but I disagree with you on this point.

      “That’s wonderful! Now I don’t have to hate bikers any more!”

      When the Trimet bus driver mowed down a bunch of people in a crosswalk downtown a few years back It didn’t occur to me to feel that I had to hate the #14 or #96 or #75 or #15 Trimet drivers whose services I benefit from, or any other bus drivers for that matter. When that PSU student killed Fallon Smart who was crossing Hawthorne recently, or when Frank Bohannon killed Kerry Kunsman with his big Ford truck I didn’t feel that I had to hate all my friends and neighbors who drive cars. I think Grandma’s projection, the fact that she may not know anyone who rides a bike and therefore felt it was appropriate to hate all bikers is I think a problem that needs addressing. This could be done in person; but it can I think also be done in a forum such as this one where we bounce ideas and interpretations off each other, learn something (or lots of somethings) we didn’t know going into this.

      In a war where one soldier or company terrorizes civilians, the reflexive conclusion that ‘all soldiers are a threat and may kill me’ is understandable: they are all wearing uniforms and their raison d’etre is killing. But what we have here: asshole on a bike looking for trouble and attacking black kids is quite another thing. It is by all accounts racist and unacceptable but it should not be something that automatically leads to hate of a group to which he can be assumed to belong.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty September 22, 2016 at 12:06 pm

        I think you’re both right. As I posted before, I don’t think there is anything the “bike community” owes this family. There is no need to apologize, make amends, or otherwise atone for the behavior of this individual.

        That said, if people are moved to have a “ride against hate” then why not? The symbolism is positive, and it may make the world better in some small way.

        I have not heard anyone say they are uncomfortable with the ride or arguing against it.

        I will not be joining the ride, but I hope it is a positive experience for all who do.

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          soren September 23, 2016 at 3:11 pm

          Our society collectively owes african americans a lot and people on bikes are part of society

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty September 23, 2016 at 3:26 pm

            Will this bike ride pay down that debt?

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              Ted Timmons (Contributor) September 23, 2016 at 5:32 pm

              More than discussing it here, yes.

              Ask Fallon Smart’s mom if a bike ride helped pay down the debt of her loss.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 23, 2016 at 5:47 pm

                I’m not sure I follow… I think what you’re saying is that a ride helped ease the pain felt by Smart’s family. Likewise, I would expect a ride to help ease the pain the family of the victims of the assault.

                What Soren is talking about is a collective racial debt owed by one race to another, for centuries of past wrongs, with the (I think) implicit assumption that cyclists are part of the those who owe the debt, and the assault victims are part of those who are owed the debt.

                I fully accept and agree with the first statement; I do not agree with the second.

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        Elly September 22, 2016 at 1:36 pm

        I’m confused, which of my points do you disagree with?

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          9watts September 22, 2016 at 8:09 pm

          That this conversation is somehow lacking deep introspection; that it isn’t the real thing, but rather a surrogate. I’ve come to think that online conversation (the best ones like here on bikeportland) offer a useful complement to the face-to-face conversations. I can’t say that one is better or less stressful than the other. Both in my view have their strengths and weaknesses.

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    Mossby Pomegranate September 22, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    My take away from all this is anybody on a bike riding through these neighborhoods needs to be alert. I’m worried about retaliatory actions from those who feel “those bike people” deserve some payback.

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    Joe Biel September 22, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    It seems like the thing that would help people move on from this situation is what BikePortland does best–reporting. What actually happened during the incident in question? What fears, pains, and biases were triggered? There are obviously some highly relevant details that haven’t been unearthed. Do the justice of reporting Jonathan. Make the Internet more than click bait and a collection of fight or flight emotions.

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      JeffS September 22, 2016 at 7:15 pm

      The other side of the story won’t be known until the guy is caught, at which point, the world will have already branded the guy a racist who attacks children for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

      The kids absolutely didn’t deserve bear spray, but I’ll guarantee you they won’t do whatever triggered the guy again.

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        pengo September 23, 2016 at 10:58 am

        “The kids absolutely didn’t deserve the bear spray, but…”

        -You

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          JeffS September 23, 2016 at 11:18 am

          “they won’t do whatever triggered the guy again.”

          – me

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            pengo September 23, 2016 at 2:43 pm

            Oh. Right. That…changes everything.

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        soren September 23, 2016 at 12:32 pm

        Your certainty that the african american kids “triggered the guy” is curious. Maybe their skirts too short…

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. September 23, 2016 at 12:38 pm

          Why do racists always question other racists motives?

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty September 23, 2016 at 12:44 pm

            Why do people always assume racism when they don’t know the whole story?

            It’s hard for me to imagine even a violent hardcore racist skinhead doing something like this for purely racial reasons, and even harder for me to imagine one wearing spandex (though I admit is is an interesting image).

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            • Adam H.
              Adam H. September 23, 2016 at 12:52 pm

              The person yelled a racial slur.
              The person yelled a racial slur.
              The person yelled a racial slur.
              The person yelled a racial slur.
              The person yelled a racial slur.

              I don’t know how you personally define racism, but I sure as sh*t include an attack on a black family while yelling racial slurs to be part of that definition.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 23, 2016 at 1:01 pm

                The use of a slur clearly suggests the attacker may have been racist, but it could also be that they were apoplectic and that was simply the worst thing they could think of saying. Aren’t you interested in knowing what led to that state of mind?

                What I’m saying is that this act was so extreme that there must have been some precipitating factor that goes beyond “racism”. If you are satisfied that you understand what really happened, great. I, however, am not.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. September 23, 2016 at 1:04 pm

                I’m sorry, but I believe it is safe to assume that someone who is okay with yelling racial slurs at black people is racist. I don’t know what other assumption you could make about this situation.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 23, 2016 at 1:06 pm

                That’s the point… I’m not making any assumptions. It’s so far beyond the pale that there has to be more going on than we know.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. September 23, 2016 at 1:17 pm

                If someone yells racial slurs, I am going to assume they are racist. There is no middle ground here, as far as I am concerned.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 23, 2016 at 1:21 pm

                And that’s fine; and in a sense it hardly matters. I suspect we’ll never find the guy, but I sure hope we do. Regardless of his motivations, his act was reprehensible.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. September 23, 2016 at 1:21 pm

                And by the way, if you think this act was “so extreme” and “beyond the pale”, then you clearly are ignorant to racism and what is going on in our country today. A racially-motivated act like this, is unfortunately, far more common than you might think.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. September 23, 2016 at 1:24 pm

                Regardless of his motivations, his act was reprehensible

                By ignoring the racial factors in this crime, you are doing a massive disservice to all the victims of racially-movivated crimes. How can we fix our problems if we can’t even talk about race? All the people saying “they don’t see race” are effectively turning a bind eye to racism, and that is not okay.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 23, 2016 at 1:25 pm

                I think this action was extreme and beyond the pale.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 23, 2016 at 1:37 pm

                I’m not ignoring racial factors; I’m saying we don’t really know what happened, and I can’t draw any real conclusions about the attacker’s underlying motivations. I will say it is hard for me to imagine that the motive was purely racial (though it might have been).

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. September 23, 2016 at 1:39 pm

                We know what happened. Are you saying the victims are lying?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 23, 2016 at 2:01 pm

                Of course not. Do we know everything that happened?

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. September 23, 2016 at 2:02 pm

                We know enough.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 23, 2016 at 2:14 pm

                You should see the films (Thin Blue Line, for example) or read the NY Times articles by Errol Morris. His work might convince you that something that seems obvious on the surface might be a lot more complex when you really dig in. Same with the first two seasons of Serial podcast for more on that theme.

                You have a pat story that fits your narrative. I am less convinced.

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                soren September 23, 2016 at 2:58 pm

                i don’t think racism is beyond the pale in Portland at all:

                http://browninpdx.tumblr.com/archive

                I also believe that the unfortunate tendency to discount or deny racism is often a form of implicit racism/bias:

                http://everydayfeminism.com/2016/08/hatred-of-racism-supports-racism/

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 23, 2016 at 3:06 pm

                An attack of this nature is well beyond the pale. Racism is, sadly, more familiar.

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          JeffS September 23, 2016 at 2:24 pm

          I’m not certain of anything regarding this reported incident. I’m one of the very few here that seem to hold that position.

          It might have been a racist looking to randomly spray some black kids.
          It might have been any number of other things.

          Proposing that we might not have all the facts is not a defense of this persons actions. It doesn’t make me incapable of empathy for the kids and doesn’t make me a racist.

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    Brian September 23, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Adam H.
    We know what happened. Are you saying the victims are lying?
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    Is it possible that the man did this after having had racial slurs yelled at him? I’m not saying it justifies his actions, but is it possible that there is more to the story than this man’s alleged actions?

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      9watts September 23, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      I’m not familiar with those. Can you point me to such a slur? I’m genuinely curious. As a white man I’ve lived for 45 years without experiencing this.

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        Brian September 23, 2016 at 2:44 pm

        Neither have I, but this man may not have been white and may have had a very different life experience than we have.

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        longgone September 24, 2016 at 2:23 pm

        You have never been on the receiving end of racial verbal aggression ? i could see that I guess. It seems far fetched though. Perhaps in Portland all your life in an environment nearly free of contact with people from other races. I myself have lived in places where aggression is always verbal, and often violently physical.
        and just in case you are unaware of verbal slights, here is a link to a list of derogatory race terms the world over. To be sure not all of them created by white people.

        https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiXpM_99ajPAhUB4WMKHXUCCZkQFggiMAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.rsdb.org%2Fraces&usg=AFQjCNGQipyGq13SDVJTbpcpHAQIWioQ6A

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          9watts September 24, 2016 at 2:33 pm

          “Perhaps in Portland all your life in an environment nearly free of contact with people from other races.”

          Um, no. I’ve lived in five different states and all over Germany. Traveled a fair amount beyond that, too.

          “You have never been on the receiving end of racial verbal aggression ?”

          No I have not. And as I said given that I am white I’m not eve sure how this would work; how or whether I would be offended if I did hear something like that. That list you linked to is rather suspect anyway: it is titled Racial Slur Database, but doesn’t list Caucasian. Does that give you a hint?
          I clicked on American, which I guess is where you thought I should go for edification but that term doesn’t correspond to anything remotely like a race. I found some amusing but hardly insulting terms.

          “I myself have lived in places where aggression is always verbal, and often violently physical.”

          I don’t think we were here talking about either of those.

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            longgone September 25, 2016 at 1:52 pm

            Wow. You are in grotesque denial. The list I linked was found in two seconds on Google. I’m morenthan sure if one was to do more research even better information could be found.
            There is nearly every manner of European people listed, and also a category titled “whites”. I’m sure if I looked again, which I’m not, the region of the Caucasus, or somewhere close is included.
            While being of skin color that is very pale, and being raised by parents who installed in me all people in America are free, worthy, and equal and due the respect of never being called horrible slurs I have still been cursed, beat, chased, shot at, spit on, and run off the road on my bicycle by violent minded people of color numerous ( make that countless) times in my life.
            I’m glad that that was not your experience, and I wish the same for my child, and the children in this sad story.

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            Spiffy September 26, 2016 at 9:32 am

            “And as I said given that I am white I’m not eve sure how this would work”

            so then you saw the section titled “White” and in scanning through you didn’t see any words that have ever been used as a slur against you? you must be living in all the nice neighborhoods… or maybe you’re young? I could easily list off several white slurs, mostly because they’ve been yelled at me by angry looking groups of other races/colors… I ask about age because it happens less these days then it used to… also, we learn to avoid those areas when we know we’d be subject to such abuse…

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. September 23, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      I can not possibly think of a scenario where yelling a racial slur and then assaulting a black family could be defensible. I don’t care if there is “more to the story” or not.

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        9watts September 23, 2016 at 2:03 pm

        Let’s assume for the moment that there is a (recognizable) racial slur that can be used against a white person. But what weight does such a slur even carry? Doesn’t the severity of the insult associated with such a term derive form the history of violence or bias or injustice that has, historically, culturally, accompanied it? I’m not really seeing how this so far entirely speculative racial slur uttered by the kids could be remotely symmetrical. But I’m probably missing something.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty September 23, 2016 at 2:17 pm

          I’m inclined to agree — it is hard for me to imagine a racial slur leading to this assault. And even if it had, that would hardly be a justification for an assault.

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          Brian September 23, 2016 at 2:42 pm

          Why do most people on this Board assume the man was white when the victims say he was white or Hispanic? Could there have been racial slurs tossed his way as a Hispanic man?

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            9watts September 23, 2016 at 2:52 pm

            seems kind of funny, doesn’t it –
            report is he is either (a) or (b); but you are speculating that a kid, who presumably—if he is hurling a race-specific epithet can tell the difference between (a) and (b)—insults the guy. This is such a reach.

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              Brian September 23, 2016 at 3:22 pm

              I have no idea what setting events led to this man doing this inexcusable action, and they may have had nothing to do with the children or adults in that car.

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          Spiffy September 26, 2016 at 9:24 am

          “Let’s assume for the moment that there is a (recognizable) racial slur that can be used against a white person.”

          you have to assume? I have no such luxury… I’ve had plenty of derogatory racial slurs hurled at my white butt in my lifetime… and when there’s an angry group of people of a race not yours that’s doing it then you can feel the violence ingrained in that term… long history of fear and anger in those words, no matter which color or slur you’re talking about…

          I’d say you’re lucky to be sheltered enough to not have been exposed, but maybe you’re just not putting yourself out there and have taken steps to shield yourself…

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty September 23, 2016 at 2:15 pm

        Who said this action was at all defensible?

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