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How can our community support the fight against white supremacy?

Posted by on August 16th, 2017 at 11:29 am

PDX Bike Swarm - ALEC F29 protests-8

A sign from a protest in February 2012.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

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.

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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:

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.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Hello, KittyNaomi Fast (Washington County Correspondent)9wattsAlex ReedinJonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) Recent comment authors
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9watts
Guest
9watts

A bold and timely set of questions. Thanks for framing it so well.

The way I see our present moment, extreme inequality in this country has generated conditions that have produced the audience our president has found for his nastiness. And according to Catherine Lutz, whose work I’ve shared here in the past, inequality is (also) exacerbated by our society’s over-reliance on the automobile. This is not a direct response to your request for tools, but indirectly I think it bears on the relationship between transportation and inequality and our drift toward autocratic rule and spiteful rhetoric.

Catherine Lutz. 2014. “The U.S. car colossus and the production of inequality.” AMERICAN ETHNOLOGIST, Vol. 41, No. 2, pp. 232–245.

from the abstract:
“I ask how the car-dependent mobility system of the United States not only reflects but also intensively generates the inequalities that characterize U.S. society. I propose that “compulsory consumption” and the automobile’s centrality to the current regime of accumulation can help account for this.”

and from the article itself:
“This material allows insight into the several significant pathways by which the car produces or amplifies inequality in the United States and, potentially, elsewhere. I argue that the car system not only reflects inequality but also actively produces it, massively redistributing wealth, status, well-being, and the means to mobility and its power. While declining wages, rising corporate control of the state, and rising costs of higher education and health care are also crucial to these redistributions, understanding the car system’s special and deeply consequential inequality-producing processes is key to any attempt to solve a number of problems. Prominent among the problems that the U.S. car system exacerbates are inequality of job access, rising wealth inequality, and environmental degradation and its unequal health effects.”

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Cities depend on cooperation and trust. People on bikes are more vulnerable than people in cars, but more agile and open to interactions with others, yet still able to cross the great empty distances we’ve made for ourselves with parking lots. Cities need bikes to bridge that parking gap to be able to build affordable housing at the necessary density. If everyone with privilege rides, it’s that much easier for everyone else to join in. For all those people choosing to drive because they are scared about riding in traffic, what do you expect people who don’t have that choice to do? Everyone has the right to ride a bike and not have their safety put at risk while traveling. Many people don’t feel like they are able to exercise that right.

9watts
Guest
9watts

And one more.
For better or worse, this blog has tended to focus more on wealthier, whiter people’s relationship to bikes than, say poorer, less white people. This article, which I”ve linked to here in the past, is a fascinating look at the face of biking we don’t tend to look at here much. If we did, I guarantee we’d learn a lot, and perhaps in so doing we could become better, more empathetic advocates.

http://www.bicycling.com/culture/advocacy/how-low-income-cyclists-go-unnoticed

Mike G
Guest
Mike Gilliland

As you said, this is a complicated issue. We as a nation have a responsibility to fight this way of thinking.

Most of the violence occurs in public transportation corridors, rights-of-ways, transit, bikeways, pedestrian thoroughfares of which we as bicyclist play an active part. Much of what we support here is a forum to address safety, user integration, right-of-way usage, and the public’s right to move about urban areas. Even private property protests seem to spill into the public spaces.

I avoided riding downtown recently when these protests appeared to be induce violence. At that point, my right to safely use public facilities was taken.

When any violent group takes it upon themselves to threaten the balance of urban fabric for their own voice, all users are impeded, or at worst, killed. There is a right to free speech, but that right becomes abridged when public safety is threatened for one group’s own means. The rights of free speech provides that we can ride, or walk to hear their voice. Violence abridges the public’s right.

We have a definite voice in representing our rights to use public spaces in a safe, legal, and constitutional manner.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

I would say “no”, don’t go there. You’ve stated the very reasons I was going to mention.

There are plenty of other sites and places to focus on political advocacy. Most people who visit this site are pretty liberal and most likely involved on some level already or at least savvy enough to know how to get involved.

I understand the concept of intersectionalism and that some things are linked, but that does not mean everything needs to gravitate towards that end or that everything needs to be about something else. Remaining focused in your domain and having boundaries is a good thing. Are you an “independent media outlet” or an political advocacy group?

I like coming here because it is usually more journalistic and non-political. If I want to hear political diatribes and opinions I can go to Fox News, Breitbart or Huffington Post.

9watts
Guest
9watts

This is curious to me.

You see journalism as separate and incommensurable with the political, perhaps because in the very next sentence you equate political with diatribes.
Really?

I see good journalism as engaging with the issues of the day, with justice, with equality, with finding ways to make the world a better place for everyone. Pretending that those are separate and that we’re just reporting the facts is in my view (and not just in my view) a fool’s errand.

Journalism has a politics, whether you like it or not. If you don’t think so I invite you to point me to a news outlet or journalist who you feel has no politics.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Good journalism doesn’t have a bias and reports facts and observation in such a manner to allow for someone to make an informed opinion. Otherwise, it is just an opinion piece.

rainbike
Guest
rainbike

I usually agree with you, but here we have different opinions. BP is a blog. In my opinion, journalism requires an editorial board and that board usually has a bias. They present the news in a way that keeps a subset of the public paying the subscription fees. Left-leaning examples include The Washington Post and The New York Times. Right leaning examples include The Wall Street Journal and the National Review. These are among the best examples of American journalism, but each has an obvious bias. The trick is to recognize that bias and think critically about the arguments they make. It isn’t a sin to read an opposing view. It’s an intellectual imperative.

My “vote” is for BP to stick to issues around local access, infrastructure and (dare I say it) bike lifestyle. Leave the national politics and commentary to organizations with the national perspective. Be bike-centric. Be local.

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

Frankly there’s no such thing as non-bias, and attempts to label any human narrative as completely objective are in reality dishonest. The truly best we can do is to really listen to multiple sides of an issue and make decisions with the information we have; “good” ethics typically lean in the direction that decisions should be beneficial for more people overall than less, especially in regards to the future.

That said, racism and fascism are not sociopolitical issues on which a “meh” position will generally serve to advance a narrative. Journalism, as 9watts points out, is not only inherently political but necessarily so, in order to advance the public narrative about social issues which affect our nation. This is why freedom of the press is (supposedly) guaranteed by the Constitution; without it, there is no real public dialogue. For such a contentious and important issue, this journalistic endeavor truly cannot afford to remain silent, and should not.

TonyT
Subscriber
TonyT

Journalism ALWAYS has a bias. Unless someone writes stories about everything in the world happening everywhere, they are making subjective decisions regarding what to cover. This is not a small point. Journalism that is perceived as unbiased may in fact be HUGELY biased just because of the stories that they choose not to cover – the dog that did not bark, so to speak.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“Good journalism doesn’t have a bias and reports facts and observation”

I’ll invite you, again, to show me an example of this.

Oy
Guest
Oy

Ban Big Knobbies, for one.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

How would you feel if someone said “Ban Oy”?

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

As much as I generally disagree (vehemently) with that commenter, their voice is an important counterpoint that prevents this comment section from becoming too much of an echo chamber. Embracing debate is crucial to understanding and refining one’s own arguments, as frustrating as it might be at times (you win some, you lose some). When you can start to understand their perspective, you can mold your language and metaphor thusly; this is where real communication begins.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Spend more time in east Portland. I liked your pieces where you follow someone on their ride to work, and I would love to see more from this side of town.

That said, Twitterer Quinn stated that developers are “selling white supremacy in Portland”. I’m not sure I understand this perspective. It seems to me that the value of closer-in neighborhoods has increased, and developers take advantage of that to make a profit on property redevelopment. The new residents tend to be more white and affluent. Does this person have any evidence that developers are intentionally targeting and/or excluding people based on race? Please don’t include marketing materials in your response, as examples of all races can be found in promotional materials around Portland.

Oy
Guest
Oy

Oregon was literally founded on white supremacy and we are still feeling it’s effects today. Housing has always been closely tied to race – whether through redlining, building highways to separate communities, or literally tearing out entire communities as Kaiser Permanente did along the once thriving Williams corridor. By building housing that is unaffordable to minority groups of color, we are fueling the whitewashing of out communities. By not investing money in affordable housing, the city is complacent as well.

mh
Subscriber

Not Kaiser, Legacy.

Oy
Guest
Oy

You’re right. Apologies to Kaiser.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

As a native Portlander, I am well aware of the history, including that of my current neighborhood, and I am aware that these policies have lasting effects. That doesn’t explain the comment, though, as it pertains to existing policies. That is what I’m trying to understand.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“It seems to me that the value of closer-in neighborhoods has increased, and developers take advantage of that to make a profit on property redevelopment. The new residents tend to be more white and affluent.”

This is a bit more nuanced than your framing allows. And causality runs in all directions. More people moving here drives prices up and in so doing those who can and wish to afford to live in the ‘more desirable’ areas displace relatively poorer people. This is an enormous and pervasive problem with far reaching social and economic consequences. Not being able to pin it on one demographic (in this case developers) doesn’t make the problem any less real, any less deserving of attention and ideally policies that reduce or eliminate it.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

I have an idea for how to get started on East Portland coverage. You know how you have held an occasional “Bike Portland Meet-Up” from time to time? What if it were a “BikePortland Write & Meet-Up” instead? I bet that people who have an article in their heads could meet some other people and also get a rough version of the article up on the Subscriber Articles section within two hours (personally I would be in favor of a workaround to get non-subscribers’ articles posted if they write them at a BikePortland Write & Meet-Up).

If you held them in East Portland it might get a more diverse set of voices on the blog, and also get you some articles with less than average hours per article? Just thinking out loud here. I think your Subscriber Articles change is awesome, and also think it’s currently not quite achieving its potential.

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

I think it’s sad we live in a time when someone in a position of unique power and wants to help, has to couch their offer of assistance in an apology, can’t have any ideas of their own and the only ideas which are valid must be generated by the aggrieved.

We, as human beings, are ALL aggrieved by and have a duty to right the wrongs of Charlottesville.

Johnathan/BP, like it or not you ARE a leader and we need more of those in the fight to save our country’s soul! You have good ideas and do good work.

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

And it’s not limited to public transit vehicles in Portland. In SF, there’s been a noticeable increase in incidents aboard BART trains, notably in the East Bay. A couple of stabbing incidents, an attempt to steal someone’s cellphone, all within the last few days. And the same group that set off the violence in VA is planning a similar march at Crissey Field in the next few days, thanks to a permit from the federal government. (Crissey Field is federal property inside the city.) The city’s trying to have the permit revoked, but no luck so far.

As most Portlanders know, I-5 across the city’s north end was built right thru a historically black area in the 1960’s, also taking out some nightclubs. So was the Rose Quarter. The alignment was designed to redline the city between black neighborhoods to the west of the highway and white ones to the east. And for a few years, it worked. The Mt. Hood freeway project succeeded in getting many homes in Lents removed before the project was stopped. (The Springwater Trail generally follows the Mt. Hood Freeway’s once-proposed alignment.) Then I-205 split the neighborhood in half. The SWT and I-205 trails are helping to sew that area back together. Now Trump is calling for new highway construction projects with shortened timelines for approval, including nullifying requirements for environmental impact documents in the name of getting projects off the ground ASAP. His press conference on the subject yesterday didn’t mention one word about transportation options like light rail, streetcars and ped/bike paths. Theoretically, he could order widening projects on Portland area freeways with little or no notice, which means that homes and businesses could be razed to make room for widening projects. That would also mean reroutes for the SWT and I-205 paths. We to be ready to protect those options in order to keep this town moving. We must also be more aggressive in getting crosstown ped/bike paths built, not just in Portland but region wide and statewide. Cars-only projects should be looked at closely to ensure that they don’t create a new policy of redlining neighborhoods again in the name of rebuilding infrastructure across the nation.

J_R
Guest
J_R

The Springwater Corridor is an old rail and trolley track. I don’t think it’s fair to blame a planned highway for creating that corridor.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The Mt. Hood freeway was going to follow Division and Powell. You can still see this east of 52nd on Powell: notice the strange small parking lots on the south side of the road. There is also a remnant interchange on HWY 26 just south of the Powell intersection. If the Springwater was going to be used, it would have only been the section east of Powell Butte.

mh
Subscriber

You can see it west of 82nd on SE Ivon, even though you may not realize that’s what you’re seeing. I’m thinking both east and west of 43rd.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Not only Lents. The Mt Hood Freeway Project also demolished houses in inner SE and led to a significant underinvestment in the Clinton neighborhood that we’ve finally climbed out of.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Member

I would love to see a bicycle group help assist in marches. Over the past many years we have learned more then most how to navigate large groups of people around the city. We also have the sound systems to make them heard, and the bicycles to coordinate them. What if there was a way for march organizers to contact pedalpalooza and ride leader veterans to help make marches more successful? The resistance will not be won by violence right now. If we can resist hate by showing what unity and love look like we will win but it is going to take a lot of people getting in the street.

Adam
Subscriber

I always bring my bike to protests. It’s the best way to get out fast if things go south, since the buses typically shut down.

Esther
Guest
Esther

We also have privilege that has for the last 10 years allowed us to take over the streets of portland with little to no resistance from Portland police and often support from them. During the crackdown on Critical Mass and other rides in the 00s, white people got a taste of the capricious enforcement of traffic violations that is ususlly only enacted on people of color and disabled folks (yes, I was here, yes, I participated, yes, I was ticketed on a technicality that at literally any other time would have been ignored because I’m a white woman). Now the PPB (who have recently killed unarmed people of color and disabled people) turn a blind eye to blatant traffic violations during thousand+ people Pedalpalooze rides and actually help us put on WNBR. We need to show up and use the privilege of our bodies to supprt the work of POC and antifascists who are doing the woek every day.

jami
Guest
jami

Digging into the concept that bike infrastructure looks like gentrification could be a start. I can hear that criticism, and I sure don’t have an answer. I want roads safe for bikes, but I also want everyone to be able to afford their home. It’s really complicated, but as a fan of this site for 15 years or so (bike commute “traffic” wasn’t even a thing — there’s a whole new bridge for it!), I know you’ve taken on complexity and fans of the status quo and succeeded before.

Adam
Subscriber

Right, I don’t like the fact that many neighborhoods are cheap because the streets there are dangerous (due to motor traffic) and in order to keep the neighborhood affordable we can’t make safety improvements to the roads. I honestly don’t blame organizations for fighting bike infrastructure for this reason. There has to be a better way.

It also doesn’t help that PBOT only starts talking about bike infrastructure when the neighborhood starts becoming gentrified, and never before. Is it any wonder why people think bike lanes are only for white people?

Annag
Guest
Annag

I don’t have a solution per say but as for the gentrification along the Williams corridor, it certainly feels like a takeover by rich white folks even though its unintentional. It would help if bike commuters would stop for pedestrians waiting to cross, many of whom are people of color. It also feels like most of my fellow commuters are in their own world, only concerned about racing to the next stoplight, many still pass too close or on the wrong side, all this feels a little unfriendly. How can we present a united front when we are still so oblivious to each other ? I also notice what seems to be a bit of passive/aggressive resentment in the way the bike lane always seemed to be partially blocked by cars in the area by Dawson Park. Not sure what to do about any of this, just an observation.

Taz Loomans
Guest

Hi Jonathan, I definitely think you should do more and can do more to dismantle white supremacy. Biking is RIDDLED with issues of white supremacy and BikePortland, instead of avoiding social justice issues surrounding biking as it historically has tended to do, could actually make that a focus and be an agent of change in that regard. Like really look into how bike lanes contribute to gentrification, how bike culture in Portland is predominantly white, and how biking is a completely different thing for privileged white people than it is for people of color. Maybe get a person of color contributor on this blog?? A regular one. Maybe have have a regular weekly section on what’s happening in communities of color around bicycling. Maybe get together with organizations like OPAL and CCC and collaborate with them on what BikePortland can do. Also monitor how much of this blog speaks to only white cyclists and how much of it speaks to a more diverse audience. Like take a look at this factor and make a commitment to make BikePortland read by a wider audience. Jonathan there is SOOOOO much more you could be doing with this blog to fight white supremacy. Please please get on it. And thank you for asking. And please don’t cow tow to the racist commentors on this blog with whom I’m very familiar after writing my pieces about race on this forum. Those commentors SHOULD NOT steer the content of this blog.

Greg Cox
Guest
Greg Cox

I would prefer this blog be focused on bike events, infrastructure, and safety. Reading the comments, I seem to be in the distinct minority, so it’s entirely possible this isn’t the place for me.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

It does sound like Maus wants to turn BP into a never ending bang the drum of “blame the white guy for everything”.

I don’t think anybody here is down with “white supremacy” so how does preaching to the choir (or speaking into the echo chamber) really accomplish anything?

Why doesn’t Maus go down to one of the fine alt-right/antifa gatherings and face off with those guys if he believes in it so strongly? Walk the walk Maus. It’s more than what you post on a blog.

Spiffy
Subscriber

what makes you think he’s not already there in the crowds facing down the haters? what he wants to know is how he can help harness the power of the people that bicycle in Portland to support those fighting the hate…

mw
Guest
mw

Stick to bike news. Don’t add to the hysteria; the MSM is already doing a good job at that. In my view, Julian Assange recently said it best: “US neo-(iberal/cons) and their MSM press pets are in overdrive conflating the massive anti-DC left+right with the tiny alt-Reich+Antifa.”

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

I would bewae of mission creep. Free speech First Amendment–OK. Violence–not OK.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

The loudest voices on the Internet are almost always wrong.

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

Far more attention needs to be paid here to all areas east. I feel ignored already at NE 57th. The real Portland is diverse and healthy, but it is no longer represented by inner N, NE, SE, and def not points west. This alone would help knit our community together and organically help the forces of ignorance and bigotry to die on the vine. No one would even know you are working on that! We need a Bureau Chief Of The East. It is no longer the hinterlands.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

In the very largest of frames Bike Portland is already doing very important work in fighting white supremacy. Whether we like to admit it or not the U.S since world war II has been a kind of economic empire. We utilize an imperial wealth pump involving money, the military, corporations, trade deals etc to funnel a disproportionate portion of the world resources from the third world to the U.S. The truth of this is obvious in the fact that we have 5% of the worlds population yet consume 30% of its resources. The historical end result of an empire that maintains an network of colonies is that eventually the policies, that grown and maintain such an empire come home to roost in the core of the empire. We can not enjoy cell phones made from cobalt mined by hand by virtual slaves in the Congo without some of that inequality and violence rubbing off on us. This does not let each one of us off the hook to treat our fellow citizens with care, respect and equity but it ultimately creates a situation that overwhelms the efforts and goodwill of individuals. By promoting the tiny energy footprint of cycling, as opposed to the massive energy and resource demand of autos, bike portland is helping to deal with the intrinsic core of our current problems. We will never be able to live in peace, equity and justice as long as our resource demand, economic policies and statecraft plunge others in to violence and economic misery.

SilkySlim
Guest
SilkySlim

This is one of the first places I went in my head as well, that BP is already fighting a very worthy fight, not to mention one that is symptomatic of the big problems at large.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest
Kyle Banerjee

As a bike blog, I think k the topic should be about bikes even if everyone agrees on some other issue.

But if we go that way, I believe the resistance to changing neighborhoods, housing, etc. that consistently appears in this forum specifically perpetrates a messed up status quo that overwhelmingly benefits whites.

Maddy
Guest
Maddy

I completely agree with CaptainKarma
In the last few years the inner Portland demographic has become even whiter and so so wealthy. The projects the bike community focuses on tend to be close-in, which does nothing to make cycling accessible to people of modest, or even middle class means.

Housing close-in is not, and will not be, accessible to any but the wealthy and privileged going forward. We need to link up the city with safe routes for all. That should be priority number one.

mh
Subscriber

Some of us live close in because we bought before real estate prices became unimaginable, because we didn’t have kids and so need to expand our footprint, and because we didn’t buy so much stuff over the years that we would need more house to hold it.

Luck in our timing had a lot to do with it, buying a wreck of a house and doing most of the work ourselves helped, so some of us still live on very modest incomes in very expensive neighborhoods. We also love our elderly bikes, qualify for Honored Citizen bus fare, and don’t spend too much on transportation.

Don’t generalize based on assumptions.

One
Guest

With your privileges comes responsibility. You, me, and everyone else with privileges should use our inherited powers to dismantle white supremist systems. I agree with Taz, and Ester, and others. I’m grateful for the good work that you do. And I’m grateful that you are asking your readers for their opinions. We need you to step up your game, Jonathan. You are a local leader. You do have more say than most.it’s beyond time for us to have difficult conversations. Resist!

Mike Reams
Guest
Mike Reams

I would say no*. The reason why is, non-liberal/Democrat/progressive/SJWs also bike. There are independents, Republicans, libertarians and others who bike and are nice and decent people. Can you delve into these topics and keep this a welcoming space for them? Both in your articles and in the comments section? Can you be judicious with your comment-deletion? (BTW, I appreciate the work you do and, the line you tread in these decisions).

The way I see it there are a few ways this can go (actually, there are a thousand shades of gray in between these scenarios but, I love bullet points and lists so, here goes)
Best case scenario: You go ahead and open this up to wider social/racial/gender/etc… issues and manage to keep it fair, civil and, non-partisan enough that you don’t alienate a chunk of your readers.
How it goes wrong: You alienate a big chunk of your readers and lose credibility because bikeportland gets a reputation as just another Republican-bashing lefty website.
If you don’t do it: Do you also lose credibility and readership because a bunch of your readers view you as too timid or narrow in your focus and they don’t want to waste their time on something that doesn’t address the bigger issues?

Maddy
Guest
Maddy

Racism really isn’t a partisan issue. Neither party endorses racism. There are some moral issues that have no grey area. I have been pleasantly surprised by my Republican acquaintances (avid cyclists) contempt for the racist lean of the current administration. Hopefully the end result of this time in our history will be to unite under some universal moral absolutes.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

I agree that neither party endorses racism and that almost all Americans would decline to call themselves racists. However, there is a noticeable difference in the levels of tolerance for racist behavior, policies and outcomes across our political spectrum, with higher tolerance being exhibited on the right wing side. Further, there’s a lot less tolerance for taking remedial actions from those same folks.

That tolerance for racism and racist outcomes is what creates this inter-party tension, imo. The left sees this as racist, the right is upset at being called racist because they don’t see tolerance of racism as enough to earn them that label.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any advice for Jonathan. This is going to be a tough nut. Whichever way he goes, I know I’ll support his honest efforts to make our little part of the world a better place.

fat spandex dude
Guest
fat spandex dude

That you were pleasantly surprised by that speaks volumes to your biases. Remember, up until very recently, the Democrats were the party of anti-immigration, racial exclusion, and all of the other things that are now anathema to Democrats.

If BP wants to become fully part of that progressive movement, I suspect that the time and energy required (which isn’t to be underestimated; I learned from personal experience that jumping headfirst into the political shitfest that’s engulfed the West requires an enormous commitment to keeping apace with the constantly shifting state of acceptable theory and discourse for whatever side you take, while also making yourself a target for flames, doxing, death threats, struggle sessions on Twitter, swatting, etc.) will wind up creating a juicy spot for a new site that retains BP’s current focus. Either way, Jonathan, don’t half-ass it, or you’ll be called out and put to The Question. 😉

Steph Routh
Guest
Steph Routh

Taz +1 on guest contributor(s) with diverse perspectives to be respectfully listened to on this blog (related: thank you for your work in developing code of conduct on this site).

And taking more moments to step back and take stock of who is impacted v. who is offering solutions is important. This morning’s article in Curbed by Alissa Walker (with thoughts from the brilliant Kristen Jeffers and Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman) is an example of that: https://www.curbed.com/2017/8/16/16151000/mansplain-gentrification-define-richard-florida-saskia-sassen

As a white person, I know I have a lot of work to do in terms of understanding structural racism as well as my own racism, of listening and supporting the efforts of those most impacted (e.g., people of color). Fellow white people–and there are a lot of us who read this blog–we have work to do on ourselves and with each other to dismantle this white supremacy we are all steeped in. It’s a tough truth. If you’re angry with me for saying it, happy to chat.

Big Knobbies
Guest
Big Knobbies

*** Hi Big Knobbies. I have deleted this comment and another one of yours because I don’t think they’re appropriate in the context of this thread. If you and I were speaking in person I would be happy to listen and talk with you about your ideas, but I think your comments on this particular thread do more harm than good. Thanks for reading and commenting. — Jonathan ***

Kyle Banerjee
Guest
Kyle Banerjee

Actually, more diversity of opinion here might help fight white supremacy. I know BK is one of the least popular people here, but his engagement here is a positive thing for everyone here and everyone he engages with.

We need more of that and more of everything else not or poorly represented here.

That is how you achieve dialog and progress.

Evan
Guest
Evan

Writing about transportation is inherently political. Bikes are interesting because they are a topic that intersects housing, environmental justice, civil rights, neighborhood change and a host of other critical urban issues, none of which can be understood separately from grim history of white supremacy in this city, state and country.

I think that if you believe that bicycles have an important role in a future urban transportation context that has the potential to be more inclusionary, safer, healthier and better for the climate, you have to work to understand how the mode of transportation intersects the social forces that work to shape the city across which that mode is deployed.

joan
Subscriber

Jonathan, I was thrilled to see your tweet last night, and even happier to see this post today. I think it’s the job of all good people to stand up to white supremacy. If we don’t discuss it, we can’t dismantle it. We also have to acknowledge how we’ve benefited from it — and of course the easiest example of that is that we white folks tend to live in neighborhoods with better infrastructure. It’s not an accident; none of this is an accident. Active transportation is certainly a social justice issue.

Thanks for your thoughtfulness on this, and I look forward to more.

Sukho Goff
Guest
Sukho Goff

Jonathan I just wanted to say thanks for asking this question, and for the courage it takes to ask it. I always felt this blog was more than just about cycling/bikes. It’s your baby, and it’s easy to see where your heart is. I don’t have any answers for you, but as the rare non-white person on a bike in this town (and bona fide bike geek) who doesn’t always feel welcome at bike events/shops/shows/gatherings, I appreciate this conversation and the thought behind it.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

From reading articles and comments here on BP, it seems like a good bicycle-related way to help would be to try to get more minorities on bikes. If car culture is reinforcing a white/wealthy supremacy, then helping less affluent people find ways of getting on the road more could help turn the tide somewhat. Easier said then done, of course.

Here’s just a few ideas that I think could be helpful. Could be things people have already done/are already doing. And I wouldn’t expect you personally to head these up Jonathan, but I know you have a lot of connections within the community that could help. I know all this stuff costs money, but hopefully with enough outreach we can show how much lower the costs are compared to car ownership.

– bike quality matters (to a point): the difference between a $200 department-store bike and a $350 bike bought from an actual bike store can be huge. That $150 difference can easily be made up in repairs/service over the first year. But that same $150 could be a deal-breaker for a low-income individual/family. I see a lot of events aimed at getting kids decent bikes, which is really great, but it seems like there could be a benefit to having more events that get working-age people bikes as well. Along with helping more people get a viable commuting alternative, it enforces the idea that bikes aren’t just toys for kids (which is a big problem in the perception a lot of non-cyclists still have).

– speaking of repairs: worrying about paying for repairs and/or not knowing how to do basic bike repairs could scare off a lot of lower-income folks. Getting some programs in place to help cover repair costs for those below a certain income level, and getting more events that offer free maintenance workshops into certain neighborhoods could be a good idea.

– teach bike security: what good is helping someone get a bike and teaching them how to maintain it if it’s just going to get stolen in a few days? Any/all of said programs/events should include free/discounted u-locks and lessons on the most effective way to secure your bike, along with practical ways to remove wheels, seat posts, etc… to make it easier to store a bike indoors if space is limited.

– help make them easier to buy: along with free bike events, getting sponsors and/or partnerships to give scholarships/subsidies/other bike-buying assistance. Many companies in the UK have a cycle-to-work program where your work basically pays for the bike, and then they take out enough from your paycheck each month to pay off the bike within a year. From what I understand, as long as you stay under the limit ($1,000) you can use the funds to also get cycle clothes, helmet, LOCK, etc. Also, some banks already offer bike loans. If people are willing to get a $4k loan for a used car that may or may not need the engine rebuilt, it should be easy to pitch the benefits of getting a $600 loan for a solid bike, lock, and some gear (especially cold weather or rain) instead. A lot of people may not be aware this is an option, though, and I’m guessing the credit requirements for a loan that small would be much more flexible as well.

– show people how/where to ride: as has been mentioned above, lower-cost housing can often be closer to roads that aren’t as bike-friendly. Organizing neighborhood group rides specifically in those areas could boost the confidence of those that are wary of venturing out, and also give them ideas of safer routes to get to bike-friendly areas. It would be cool to organize a group ride-to-work, where commuting veterans could coordinate with people in neighborhoods where they ride together to the beginners’ work/school.

Sorry for the novel 🙂

Mossby Pomegranate
Guest
Mossby Pomegranate

Meh…stick with bike news. This forum is political enough as it is.

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

I tend to think the site should stay in its lane.

If you set out on a mission to fight racism and/or white supremacy, I for one would like to hear a very clear description of what you’re referring to. The redefinition and overuse of the terms have left them largely meaningless.

peejay
Guest
peejay

Some issues are bigger than bikes. The struggle to pull our country back from the precipice is going to be difficult and require all of our resources. If a bike blog has to divert some of its column space to that effort—and contribute something useful to that effort—then we should be able to deal with that. A number of readers have shown an interest in using bikes to further their activist goals, and it’s entirely appropriate that BikePortland serve that readership. If Jonathan loses a couple of racist readers, I bet he can live with that.

Steph Routh
Guest
Steph Routh

I love you very much, PJ! Have I mentioned this lately?

Grant
Guest
Grant

This blog is effective because it shows how bicycling and access to good transportation options as issues are important for everyone no matter where you live nor what your political perspective is. For instance, the liberal case could be made that public investing in bicycling and mass transit reduces inequality on its own and gets people of different social classes on the same bike path and rubbing elbows on the train and bus. The conservative case could be made for self-sufficiency in being able to get to work and recreate under your own power etc. I propose that this blog continue its focus on transportation infrastructure advocacy and supporting a healthy lifestyle through bicycling. I feel that starting articles from a political left vs right viewpoint on articles first will serve to signal that bicycling is only a thing that liberals do, which is not true and may turn people away who may be reached to change politically simply by riding a bicycle. I used to vote squarely republican and listen to Rush Limbaugh and watch Fox News and I was a bicyclist. Then I started to wonder why many more people did not ride bicycles and why living in Red states in the midwest that the cycling infrastructure was horrible and I felt my life was at stake just for choosing how to get to work and recreate. My path as a cyclist first has helped to change the way I see other issues on race, gender, poverty, and how to invest in public infrastructure has been largely informed by how I saw the world from a bike. This blog has also played a major role in helping me learn how vibrant cities and states that invest in good transportation are better for the health of their people and provide a place that I want to invest my life and work into to contribute to that place as well.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

I think this illustrates why we can’t have a left-vs-right political debate where one side has chosen white supremacy as part of their platform. We can’t have a polite conversation when one side wants to own other people. Voter suppression and manipulation is not “politics”. Anyone who thinks this is a partisan issue is being manipulated. Hitler was in it for the money and power. We all learned that, right?

I could make a conservative or liberal argument on how we design or spend on bike lanes, but neither should question one person’s right over another to pass safely through a public space.

It’s unfortunate that “conservative” gets used interchangeably for “bigot” because I believe in liberty and justice for all (meaning “all people”) but I think we spend way too much money on many things that could be better solved by an open market or simpler solutions that didn’t involve elected politicians influencing very large contracts with the sort of companies that make a lot of large campaign donations. What are “conservatives” conserving? What’s the matter with Kansas?

jody
Guest
jody

You have asked some great questions and I’m encouraged to see this conversation happening here. In my experience, the primarily white bike community in Portland doesn’t want to talk about it or admit there are issues with racism and white supremacy. It’s amazing the ways white people will try to shut down this conversation. Here are some ways you could make a big difference-

Stop centering white voices and focus more on the voices and perspectives of People of Color- on this blog, in organizing bike events, in everything you do. Build relationships with other organizations led by people of color (many are mentioned in previous comments) and listen to them and support them. Don’t create events “for them” and don’t assume what people know or don’t know.

If Bike Portland were more focused on social justice, it would certainly be more interesting to me.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Stick to issues that are closely related to bicycling, please.

From reading the comments it appears there are not even common definitions of white privilege and white supremacy.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“Stick to issues that are closely related to bicycling”

I’m not sure Jonathan was suggesting—or those of us assenting were agreeing to him—doing anything else. I understood the challenge to be finding ways to link bikes and these larger social issues, or examining them in relation to each other.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest
Kyle Banerjee

The trick is people need to find their own path there. I’ve encouraged people to cycle my entire life, and one of the challenges I encounter more in PDX than other areas I’ve lived is captured by this:

Grant
… I feel that starting articles from a political left vs right viewpoint on articles first will serve to signal that bicycling is only a thing that liberals do, which is not true and may turn people away who may be reached to change politically simply by riding a bicycle…

Just being on a bike in Portland is somehow a statement and draws associations a lot of people don’t want.

Even a right wing rider can appreciate what being targeted for harassment or not having a safe place to ride can be like. Through their social connections this consciousness can reach people that otherwise might not be exposed to it.

BTW, I’ve seen this happen many times. It doesn’t convert conservatives to liberals, but it reduces the “othering” effect and promotes understanding.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Something interesting is that the closest I can possibly come, as a person of certain privileges, to understanding what it’s like to be marginalized, disregarded and treated poorly simply for existing is to ride a bike among motor traffic. Now, I can “fit in” sometimes if I “act like a car” (i.e., ride really fast), and I can avoid a certain amount of discomfort if I scurry out of the way and “don’t cause trouble”, but there are always those who will try to let me know—to varying degrees of threat, both verbal and physical—if they think I’ve stepped out of my place. It doesn’t happen every day, but I’ve been yelled at, honked at, aggressively close-passed, swerved at to prevent me from passing, and treated differently by law enforcement (compared to when I’ve been in a car). Except for rare encounters with law enforcement, all the “abuse” I’ve experienced from drivers has been while doing things that are completely legal—and mostly not even disruptive.

Of course none of this compares to the experience of others in different demographics in all areas of daily life. I can park my bike and start walking and presto—I get my privilege back! Now, the above is probably not the most convincing way to get someone to try biking for the first time, but it does provide that teeny, tiny bit of empathy for those that are treated poorly by people who just don’t have a clue.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

I’ve been so concerned about and alarmed by recent events, it’s really put me in a tailspin. I can only imagine how people more personally threatened feel.

The parallels to 1930s Germany, that slippery slope of silence that paved the way for evil to enter in and take firm hold, are way too close for comfort. I’m appalled that the people surrounding our president are not stepping up, speaking up against his belligerent, unapologetic endorsement of Jew-hating, black-hating armed thugs. Apparently having a permit absolves one of marching with assault rifles and torches, terrifying a community and chanting “Jews! Will not! Replace us!” According to our president, that is. His willingness to fan those dangerous flames is what is terrifying me and reminding me of 1939 Germany.

So. What would a bicycle blog in 1939 Germany do? Or a little before then? I’m not meaning to be silly–my point is that things are dire, and there are times to make exceptions to the norm. Just as it would be insane to continue blithely writing about only cycling-related things in that case, so (I feel) would it be weird and inappropriate now. Things are dire and good people need to speak up. Thanks, Jonathan. I’ll think on the solutions part.

9watts
Guest
9watts

My thoughts exactly. Thanks for saying this, rachel.

JJJ
Guest

I think it is important. Equity is a huge part of transportation. Black urban neighborhoods were destroyed to build highways for white suburbanites. Billions are spent to upgrade airports while urban bus lines don’t even get shelters.

And the problem is that there are many people who not only don’t realize the link between equity and transportation, but fight against even talking about it.

Look at the comments to this article:

http://usa.streetsblog.org/2017/08/16/what-bike-planners-are-missing-when-they-design-projects-in-black-and-latino-neighborhoods/

“Identity politics has achieved a new level of mischievous mediocrity with this crock”

Talking about race is now “identity politics” and even bringing up demographics is racist.

Bicycling fits in because walking and bicycling are the most equitable forms of transportation.

And it is important to call out when those in power use the limited funding dedicated to walking and bicycling and spend it on projects that disproportionately benefit wealthier, whiter communities.

Baby Jimmy
Guest
Baby Jimmy

Jonathan,
I think this is a good and important idea, thanks for reaching out to your readers. I have enjoyed reading all of the responses. My take is that this is not a new issue and has been a problem around the world for a very long time. I don’t have any solutions for you, but I would focus in on the education system. To me, the lack of access to a quality education is the biggest problem facing most of America. I don’t know what specifically you could do to help, but I feel that it is the most important issue facing Portland right now. In our great city, lower income and minority communities are getting left behind in the Portland Public School (PPS) system. I encourage you to read up on the school boundary issues that have been going on over the last 5-6 years. I have been aghast at the underlying racism in our community. For example, a wealthy, inner east side community has chosen to have their kids go to school at three separate campuses instead of mixing in with lower income and minority students. Phrases like, “what about my property values” and “we just want to keep our community intact” are routinely thrown around. Many families choose to leave their neighborhood school and transfer into more affluent schools, or go private, to avoid having to mix with lower income students. All of this leads to the have and have nots, right here in Portland.
Again, I don’t know what you can do to help, but it is an important issue. I know there are groups that provide bikes to lower income schools and work hard so that kids have a safe way to bike and walk to schools in lower income areas, but I don’t think the city and PPS do enough.

Alex Cook
Guest
Alex Cook

Yes, no question you should use your position to fight racism, hate, and white-supremacy. Your duty is even greater given that bicycling has become a symbol of privilege and gentrification. Additionally many of your readers (as evidenced by the above comments) are still resistant to including this kind of talk into their daily lives. I like a lot of these suggestions above. And I do think you do try to include different voices, but of course there is always room to improve. My suggestions include:

-Lift up voices of women, PoC, queer people, refugees, and others affected by the rhetoric in this country in our community who bike – give them guest posts, promote their events, art, books, blogs, bike rides and whatever else
-Promote organizations and their events that give low cost or free bikes to underprivileged children and adults (I know a few orgs have worked with IRCO to give bikes to refugees)
-Support people experiencing houselessness!
-Write a post or have someone write about about bystander intervention when you are on your bike
-Feature a story from people who don’t ride bikes because they are too scared of being on display for violent white supremacists in the area
-Feature a story from someone who became disillusioned with the bike movement and it’s upper class, white male domination
-Share a time when you have recognized your privilege or changed your thinking about something in the bike world
-You may want to ask a local organization involved in social justice how to include them (since I know many are heavily burdened now, you may want to ask a group like SURJ which is designed for white people just getting into racial justice).

If you have done any of the above, keeping doing it and do it louder. I also think creating a more inclusive place in the biking world will encourage more people to bike, so added bonus!

One of my friends is coming out with a book about this subject that I am really excited to read: https://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/books/7833

chezztone
Guest
chezztone

Driving a car, and giving in fully to car culture, is more than mere conformity. It is supporting the oil companies, who have gotten governments to be their henchmen in paving over large areas of wilderness and residential areas; destroying public transportation; foisting this dangerous, dirty and expensive means of getting around onto all of us. But now we know the oil companies have been doing much worse than that: they have been destroying the global human habitat. This battle between people and profit-seeking corporations is getting more explicit now, with a white supremacist using a car to attack and kill people protesting his vile message. And state legislatures trying to make it legal to run down protesters with cars.
Bike Portland and other pro-bike groups have been on the right side of this struggle from the get-go. But now is the time to connect the dots, or at least to acknowledge that the other side is already connecting them. Yes Jonathan! Speak out boldly and frankly in favor of bicycles, human freedom. democracy and the earth, and encourage your readers to do the same in their thoughts, speech and actions. Thank you!

Oy
Guest
Oy

Bike communities tend to exhibit quite a lot of ableism as well. Whether it be from more obvious sources like when “strong and fearless” types instruct others they just need to ride faster, to not-so-obvious tactics of discriminating against those with invisible disabilities such as mental illness. Part of designing a true “all ages and abilities” facility needs to include access for non-neurotypical individuals as well, as not everyone has the mental capacity or energy to share lanes with fast-moving and aggressive motor traffic.

Jonathan, you should certainly use your platform as a bike blogger to advocate for the less able-bodied and able-minded. You’ve done a fairly good job at covering events for people with physical disabilities but invisible disabilities such as mental illness are just as important and often don’t get much coverage due to their social stigma.

SD
Guest
SD

This blog, your journalism, already fights white supremacy in important areas that other news orgs don’t touch. Inequity was engineered into the bones of American cities, including Portland (obviously,) and continues to be perpetuated by electeds and moneyed interests. Portland’s infrastructure was planned and built by racists or by people who feel that using city resources and laws to reinforce class divisions is part of the natural order, economic or otherwise.

Over the years, you have become more adept at understanding and identifying some of the drivers of this inequity. You have done a great job of calling out the PBA, who wish that Portland was more convenient for their commute at the expense of the people who actually live where they drive. You have better defined ODOT, and its willful neglect of high crash corridors that isolate non- white neighborhoods from the rest of Portland and stifle the quality of life of the people that live there. And, there is an evolving narrative of this that is archived on BP. You have brought to light the failures of an on-again off-again city hall that holds onto political capital as if they will be in office for eternity and a drop of that capital spent on bikes will result in curses on their children’s children. And, of course, the circus in Salem, where suburban white privileged men use bikes and pedestrians in Portland as their punching bag to score points with their ill-informed base.

These groups and the damage that they do may be old news to people who work in these areas. And, this damage maybe dismissed by insiders or sausage/gristle apologists who believe that governance is too complicated to be ethical. But, for many highly motivated caring Portlanders this is a black box. The conversation on BP over the past decade has been a tremendous source of information for people who care about the built environment that surrounds them and how to make it better for everyone.

How does BP go forward in fighting white supremacists? Well, whether the aforementioned groups are aware of it or not, they are often working to maintain or worsen the inequity that disproportionately affects people of color. Many of the players that profit off of this system, like freight companies, are unknown to the general public. I know you have touched on a lot of these topics, but why are the lives of residents of St. John’s or people who live near Columbia or 82nd less important than the unfettered speed and access of trucks? What really motivates ODOT to look at cities through a lens from the fifties, a time when the idea of social and ethnic equity was a pipe dream? What are the names of the people whose greed comes before the safety of disadvantaged or vulnerable populations in Portland, or other cities?

I am going to be optimistic and say that people who feel compelled to put their idiocy and hatred on public display, i.e. Nazis, will come and go. It is important to take a stand when it happens, but it is also important to define an arc that will chip away at the white supremacy that has become normalized and nearly invisible. The racism that is ingrained in our institutions and that has been carved into the concrete and asphalt that surrounds us isn’t going anywhere unless there are advocates and investigative journalists like yourself who can shed light on it and identify it as systemic oppression.

pruss
Guest
pruss

there are some intricate arguments presented that fighting car culture IS fighting white supremacy….i suspect there may be quite a few who believe that bike culture (and coffee shops) are the vanguard of gentrification who are shaking their heads.

Humble opinion is that we spend too much time in our virtual world that we lose sight of our physical world where we can have immediate impact for change. Let people rage about wrong on Fbook and condemn Trump in their social media….I think BP does a solid job of actually trying to fix what we can fix right here and now. Not downplaying the bad in the world…just think we have a tendency to look at the entirety of Mt Everest as an impossible task and freak while outlets like BP are trying to coax us to focus on and actually complete some of the necessary steps.

Carrie
Subscriber

Two years ago I attended the National Bike Summit in DC and went to two sessions that reframed how I view transportation policy and public infrastructure. The most powerful one addressed, head on, the topic of equity and bicycling and infrastructure and funding. Did you know that the City of Portland was sued under a Civil Rights Statute (and lost) for inequitable funding distribution that was shown to be directly correlated to the racial and economic make-up of a given community? I didn’t, but it was quite amazing to hear stories of the law being used in that fashion.

So what can BikePortland do? PBOT just spent $4.5 million to build the 20s bikeway in a) a way that most cyclists DO NOT LIKE and b) when the people of this city who need transportation infrastructure the most (in the form of SIDEWALKS and signaled intersections and covered bus stops and frequent bus service) still don’t have those things. THIS is an equity issue. Even the death of the young woman on Water St — I’m glad, I guess, that PBOT has plans to make that intersection safer. But what about the kids who have to get to school and cross 82nd Ave and have NO SIDEWALKS and their family doesn’t have a car to get them across that road safely? This is where non-car new coverage and equity intersect, IMO.

I also have a plea for the BP commentors. The next time someone writes something here and your first instinct is to jump on and tell them how they could have done X better or if they only tried riding this way then Y would never happen — just don’t do it! Instead take the time you would have spent writing the comment to mull over what the person wrote and BELIEVE THEM. Stop second guessing. Stop mansplaining. BELIEVE people’s experiences, especially if you’ve never experienced that yourself.

9watts
Guest
9watts

this.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I liked your comment, but your use of “mansplaining” ruined it for me. You make some good points; please don’t taint them with overtly sexist language.

Adam
Subscriber

Nothing about that comment was sexist. I suppose you also believe in “reverse racism”?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Is “mansplaining” “reverse sexism”?

Adam
Subscriber

It’s not sexist to point out patriarchal behavior.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Then point it out using non-sexist language. It’s really not that hard.

Alex Cook
Guest
Alex Cook

I would recommend reading more about mansplaining and why we call it such before continuing this line of thought. This is just ones article, but there are many more to google: https://thinkprogress.org/viewpoint-why-we-need-to-stop-mansplaining-773e26d533a0/

“Falling right in line with the anti-feminist idea that “reverse sexism” is rampant in our society, I’ve heard men throw around the word ‘womansplain’ to point to the fact that if a man can explain something condescendingly, then a woman can as well. And that’s true. But that argument totally ignores the fact that mansplaining was invented to uncover privilege -– specifically, the privilege men have to assume that they are right, that women are wrong, and that their responsibility is to explain something to the poor woman who just can’t understand it.

Ultimately, that’s the core of the term: Privilege. But by calling out men in the term mansplaining, feminists bring up a gender divide when condescension actually plays an integral role in privilege more broadly.”

Adam
Subscriber

It’s easier to type “mainsplaining” than it is to type “someone of privilege, usually a man, giving advice to someone they see as weaker or less intelligent than them, usually a woman or person of lesser privilege”. Is it sexist to say that men often give unsolicited advice to those they assume are weaker or less “skilled”?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

From the last paragraph of that article:

It’s a fine line, but seeing mansplaining everywhere—especially once you know it’s been around so long—is perhaps as dangerous as allowing it to go unnoticed.

Adam
Subscriber

Fine, then come up with a term for “people on Bike Portland lecturing me about how I need to gain proper cycling skills, as if I didn’t learn cycling techniques from riding year-round in Chicago winters though snow and wind; and that I need to simply ride faster even though that’s not how legs work; and assuming that I totally don’t take any precautions on the road to keep myself safe, even though I totally do and you don’t know me”. 😉

Maybe it’s not mansplaining, but it’s still annoying as hell.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

>>> Is it sexist to say that men often give unsolicited advice to those they assume are weaker or less “skilled”? <<<

Not inherently. But saying that is much different than using a dismissive and sexist term as way of shutting down others, which is how you use the term, and what I object to. Since those you seek to shut down (in this forum, at least) mean well, perhaps you can find a more artful and constructive way to express yourself?

In the context above, it adds exactly nothing to Carrie's good points. Reread her last paragraph, and see if has any less impact without that word. It probably has more.

Adam
Subscriber

See, you just hit on the crux of the issue. Mansplainers think they mean well, and getting defensive and critiquing word choice because someone is calling out your behavior is just a way of shutting down the conversation and effectively putting the blame on the person calling out the behavior in the first place. What you are doing is effectively tone policing.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

They don’t *think* they mean well, they *do* mean well. Isn’t it better to help them understand how to not alienate those they wish to help rather than tell them to f-off?

I’m not policing your tone, I’m asking you to refrain from using overtly sexist language.

Adam
Subscriber

No, you said the OP’s comments would have more impact if she had used different words. That is literally tone policing.

Adam
Subscriber

Plus, I disagree that the word “mansplaining” is even sexist as all, let alone considered “overtly sexist language”. Maybe if a woman accuses someone of mansplaining, you should listen to her and try to understand why she feels that way, rather than just shutting down the conversation by accusing her of being dismissive and sexist.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Actually it’s not. Did you even read the content you linked to?

>>> Tone policing focuses on the emotion behind a message rather than the message itself <<<

Objecting to sexist tropes is not tone policing.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

This conversation is ridiculous. I give up.

Adam
Subscriber

I have been accused of mansplaining before. What I did is think about what I said and how I said it, and try to understand how it could have come off as condescending. What I did not do, is accuse the other person of being sexist – that would be ridiculous.

SE
Guest
SE

>> just stick to bike news?

YES ,
and take the social justice crusading elsewhere.