The Chainlink

Question by Streetsblog/Chicago Reader, "Does Chicago Need a Bike Group Geared Towards Women of Color"

I was one of the interviewees for the article and well-deservedly, made the cutting room floor. I think I needed a little more time to digest the issue, have a few more experiences, and give it more thought. Luckily, there's this little website called The Chainlink that allows me to raise discussions on important topics like this. 

My first reaction is this - "a Bike Group"? Actually, there is a need for more than one group. It implies one group is necessary when the answer may be more groups would be helpful. The diversity of issues we face are as diverse as our backgrounds. Sometimes it is very helpful to be able to connect with those that have had similar experiences and challenges to our own - empathy, understanding, and advice could come out of those conversations. Sure, there are common threads, common bonds we all face as well. I don't know that it's as straightforward as that. 

Granted, I do feel even if we start with one group, that would be incredibly helpful. I've been in all-women groups/teams in Chicago that lack diversity and lack understanding of the issues I've personally experienced. I had one (woman) leader in the cycling community tell me I am "white" and don't have challenges. I have more examples of this lack of understanding but hopefully you get the idea. Many of us are questioned for our own life experiences and that can be frustrating and deflating. Many of us look for support and understanding. 

My second reaction is this - women with diverse backgrounds need to be represented in leadership positions as well. I commend Oboi in voicing his concerns about a need for equity and a need for representation but I am also concerned, in that video call and dialogue he started, there is an absence of women in leadership roles. Women need a voice. Women ride differently - women are more vulnerable because we tend to follow the laws more carefully, now add that vulnerability to women riding in communities on the South and West sides that lack infrastructure, lack support. 

I can't directly speak to the West and South sides personally because I live on the North side but I do have a sensitivity, growing up and having experiences as a half-Pakistani woman. I'm proud to be in a leadership role for The Chainlink. I also see that we need to give more of a voice in leadership positions when it comes to greatly improving the infrastructure, support (stop ticketing!), and resources on the South and West sides of Chicago. 

This includes all-women organizations - they also need to actively invite and seek out diversity in leadership for their organizations e.g. Women Bike Chicago, Critical Lass, BFF Bikes Racing, Chicago Women's Elite Cycling.

So please know The Chainlink is always a safe space to feel supported, have constructive conversations, and continue to address the issues to improve the community. Do you have any thoughts and/or suggestions you would like to share? Please, join this conversation. 

Article I am referring to:

http://chi.streetsblog.org/2017/08/31/does-chicago-need-a-new-bike-...

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Yasmeen,

Thanks for your responses to my questions for the Reader/Streetsblog articles. I got a lot of great responses to my interview questions and word count was limited, but we did give a shout-out in the piece to The Chainlink's women's discussion page. http://www.thechainlink.org/group/women-of-chainlink-chicago

Please feel free to post your interview responses here and/or in the comments section of the article in the Reader and Streetsblog if you like.

Great points about the need for more women of diverse backgrounds in leadership positions within local bike organizations and institutions. For example, last time I checked there was only one bike shop in Chicago whose owner is a woman of color, the excellent Uptown Bikes, run by the righteous Maria Barnes.

Instead of waiting to be seated at their table, have your own! I know of someone who is also frustrated with an "only white" table and begging for the scraps, so they are creating their own "table". We, people of color should not have to kiss "butt" in order for our viewpoints to be heard and taken seriously.

um... ;-) bought a table (table=The Chainlink)

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