Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 16th, 2017 at 11:29 am
Like many of you, I’m struggling to focus on anything but the sorry state of our nation.
The events in Charlottesville and their aftermath have made it clear that the white supremacy movement is alive and growing in America. And now that Donald Trump has cleared a space for hate to flourish, we’ve reached a new and dangerous place in the fight against it.
Why am I bringing this up on a bike blog?
BikePortland plays an important role in our community. As an independent media outlet, our relatively large audience is one of the smartest, most engaged, and most civically active groups of people in Portland. Because of that — and because of the privileges and safety I personally enjoy as a comfortable, independent, middle-class, business-owning white male — I have a responsibility to listen to the community and do what I can to help fight this cancer of hate and prevent it from metastizing.
I have some sense about what to do as an individual. What I need your help with is what to do as publisher and owner of this platform we’ve all created together here at BikePortland.
These are the questions I need help with:
➤ Should BikePortland do anything to help or take part in the local effort to fight white supremacists and resist the Trump administration’s enabling of it?
➤ If not, why not?
➤ If so, how best can we use the tools we have to assist in these efforts?
What exactly are the tools we have?
At its core, BikePortland is a community media outlet that connects people with each other and with information. We are also a resource provider, helping people find events to participate in, jobs to apply for, groups to join, and so on. Because of your participation here on the blog and on our Facebook page and Twitter feed, BikePortland is also a place where important conversations happen everyday.
Should we put those tools to use in a different way to help with this fight? Or is it better to stay out of it?
I had this exchange on Twitter late last night:
Developers have coopted bikes to sell gentrification and white supremacy in Portland. I'd love to see the bike community fight that more.
— quinn (@quinnthereaux) August 16, 2017
Please understand it’s not my intention with this post to force biking into these very serious and sensitive issues. There are many very capable groups and activists already working hard in this space and I don’t want to get in their way. However, I feel it’s necessary to directly acknowledge that this hate is happening in our city, in our state, and in our country. What we do here on BikePortland should not happen in a vacuum; but I’m also wary of losing the clarity of focus that I feel has made this site so valuable over the years.
That being said, I don’t want to regret not using the tools we have as the march down this dark path we’re on grows larger.
Bicycling is a powerful thing. It can transcend mere sport or transportation and connect people to each other and their community in profound ways. If there’s a way to harness that power via the platform we have here and use it in the fight against white supremacy, I want to consider all our options.
At a minimum, I’ll do what we’ve always done: promote local protest events like the one coming this Friday and report on any bike-related actions (like PDX Bike Swarm and so on) that take place around them.
But should we do more? Or should we just stick to bike news? Please share your thoughts, and remember all commenters deserve respect. I appreciate your support and understanding as we work through these issues together.
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