Comment of the week: Biking with color in a country with history

Comment of the week: Biking with color in a country with history

Prospect Park-6

There are as many ways to be a person who bikes as there are ways to be a person, and just as many ways to be a person of color.

That was part of the thinking shared by BikePortland reader Clement in a comment on yesterday’s post by Taz Loomans about how to get more racial and ethnic diversity into organized bike fun.

Here’s what Clement said:

I appreciate the suggestions for diversifying Portland’s bike events. I happen to be a person of color who bikes on a daily basis, but I have never been drawn to the Keep Portland Weird, circus-y aspects of what some see as Portland’s bike culture. Not doing the bike culture thing or cycling for sport, but just biking to get around (though I love my bikes!), I sometimes feel that I am not a legitimate part of Portland’s bike scene. That being said, I don’t think that it is a fair characterization when people equate Portland’s having a high portion of white people with meaning Portland is inherently racist. Having lived in the Detroit area and spent time in the South, I find that Portland’s history is not exceptionally racist. Pretty much all of the United States had a white supremacist history. Portland was never a major port of entry for immigrants, did not have a plantation economy, wasn’t a big part of the African-American migration north to the Northeast and Midwest, and was not a major economic engine that attracted people from all over the world like New York, Chicago, or LA. Its not surprising Portland isn’t very diverse – it’s kind of been a small, provincial city way out in the Northwest. But, it is growing, opening up more to the world – and isn’t without its growing pains. It’s my city. I like it.

As other comments in the (generally constructive and thoughtful!) thread pointed out, reasonable people can probably differ over the depth of Portland’s historical and/or current racism compared to elsewhere. But our metro area is indeed getting gradually less homogeneous. Let’s hope we can also make it a city where all of us can build the lives we like.

Yes, we pay for good comments. This regular feature is sponsored by readers who’ve become BikePortland subscribers to keep our site and our community strong. We’ll be sending $5 and a little goodie bag to Clement in thanks for this great addition. Watch your email!

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 –

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