I heard something interesting the other day. Of course we have all seen the expansion of biking in Brooklyn and across all of New York. Not just blue bikes, but it seems like more and more people are discovering the advantage of local transportation by any color bicycle over subway, bus and car service systems. It’s healthier and it will actually save you costs for transportation.

You might also know that you are not allowed to ride a bike on the sidewalk, but instead have to use the road or bicycle path if available. I overheard a conversation related to this and apparently the law has changed: you will no longer be fined for riding your bike in pedestrian designated areas. According to what I heard, this is because so many white people are now starting to ride bikes and we wouldn’t want too many of them to be fined, smh.

I was not able to verify this as fact, but it makes me wonder. What if black people would have taken on bike riding in huge numbers, would that law also have changed (if, in fact, it changed)? Or what if all of a sudden black people started riding bikes in excess of white people, would this law be reverted to its original form? A hypothetical analysis is in place here.

Well, whether it’s true or not, it doesn’t surprise me because it’s the way the world mainly runs. A hypothetical analysis is ALWAYS in place when it comes to juicy topics like this, ha! But since we’ve not yet verified if this new law is real or not, I won’t go into why it’s messed up. That’s because this type of thing is something completely normal and even expected in our country, so I’ll discuss how I feel about that forced expectancy.

To throw in the shred of silver lining before my thunderstorm of jaded perspective, I’ll say that I’m glad for bike safety being on the rise. The bike lanes are doing their best to hold a presence within New York City’s ever-growing congestion issues. Have you seen the amount of buildings going up across the boroughs? Most of them lack parking garages and this creates an even larger safety concern on the streets – more cars and more people in increased concentration. Anyway, I’m glad that biking procedures and initiatives seem to be more and more emerging lately, and that energy conservation is becoming more of a priority for the everyday commuter. I walk to work and have a foldable bike sitting in a bag in my brownstone apartment, so as usual, I’m a part of the problem and the solution in a very tongue-in-cheek way.

Very true and same here. I have a bike of my own which has been taking up space in my hallway for the past three years to the chagrin of my husband. I’m just too lazy to pick it, up carry it down and actually use it, although I know it will save me huge amounts of time commuting to and from work. Let alone the fact that it will give me a free exercise at the same time. I pledge here and now that I will take up biking again, as it is getting safer with added bike paths and heightened awareness of motorists. I just need to find a solution for the added sweat stains this exercise will cause because it is no fun walking around with a wet and transpiration reeking shirt all day. An extra shirt in a small backpack will solve that.

Ok, with that being said, let’s be honest – neighborhoods and societies seem to function on a wheel that is comprised of the preference of white people and their perspectives of what opportunity is. Those perspectives seem to be that opportunity is open to whatever is personally defined as available, vulnerable or in need of one’s individual influence. From this observation, the reactional goal for me is being able to handle this idea in a way that both shifts and balances the default dynamic into a more effective one within multicultural communities.

I’m tired of complaining about white privilege and the many ways that it is ingrained into our society, so I won’t approach this topic from that angle. Instead, I’ll talk about the unfortunate notion that happened generations and generations ago. You know, the notion that when cultures co-exist, there is somehow space for hierarchy within the dynamic. Who decided this and ran with it is unclear to me, but it seems like it’s always worked in favor of those who are not of color. It seems to go like this: “Dominant Race: ‘Oh look, we should be doing this to make our space better. Let’s do that. Now let’s apply it to other cultures so that they feel included and don’t fight us on it.’ Other Races: ‘Why aren’t we included from the beginning? We’re already here and some of us have ideas of how to make this better for all cultures, not just yours.’ Dominant Race: ‘Eh, not a big deal either way. You do you and we’ll do us. But don’t make it about race, please. You’re overreacting, it’s just a bicycle, calm down.’ Other Races: ‘Well, we would, but we’re being murdered for the same things you naturally get away with.’”

Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t go into screenplay, but that is where the problem lies with me. It’s no longer the white privilege aspect that boils my blood, it’s the seemingly natural inclination to the notion that there is personal opportunity to be taken when engaging in a society of and with other races. Next, it’s the blatant lack of acknowledgement of that notion. Isn’t it something, how speaking up for equality or at least the celebration of your own culture’s greatness is deemed secondary to another culture’s characteristics? Like, who came up with that as a default process of social interaction? Yes, I did watch Wonder Woman recently and therefore have a refreshed belief in the God of War being behind most of this skewed system, but I won’t go off on a tangent this time. Back to you, Yako.

Let’s stay with Wonder Woman for a bit though, because you are touching a good point there. I don’t think anybody knows who’s behind this any longer, and in fact I don’t think anyone in particular is behind this. It’s the God of War, elusive and not identifiable. It’s a structural societal, systematic institutional type of racism that’s going on and that cannot be addressed by pointing fingers any longer. I don’t believe in a black or white homogenous people that represent all there is to say about black and white people. We have come to a place where we are too diverse within and across ethnicities, and the lines have blurred.

I’m sick of the common idea that the other races are always expected to stay in their lane while the dominant race prescribes and will only ask the other race for input when so desired. It’s just boring and so unjust. I wish we could take out race altogether and it should be possible because, as you are well aware, race is a made up construct (and please don’t ask me by whom) and there is nothing scientific that would distinguish a black person from a white person. Your genes can’t tell whether you are black or white, and there are just as many shades of color within the black and white “races” as there are between those races.

Back to the biking, would it be an option if across ethnicities we widely started using bikes and see what happens? That would be amazing: everyone on bikes getting to places so much faster compared to how we now suffer on New York’s outdated subway system. Let’s see how fast we will get biking highways (yes, these exist) and address obesity at the same time! We can then also see what remains of my quasi hypothesis on the law for sidewalk bike riding.

Solidarity ALWAYS works! To address your sentiment on race being a social man-made construct: I agree to that in part and also wish that we could rid ourselves of the (what I call) “confusion-infusion” that has taken a cancerous toll on our beautiful cultural palette. Another deeper part of me knows that we need race as a division in order to call out the nature of human beings that is hidden by the scenarios to which we attach ourselves. Race is not the root of the problem, it is the key to the problem being exposed.

Krystal & Yako


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Yako and Krystal

Yako: Born on a farm in The Netherlands, Europe, I was always on quest for adventure. As a small boy, I was already interested in learning about other cultures and pretended I was fluent in American (I...

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  1. To the across ethnicities idea about biking to work: One issue I see: Distance would be an issue, living within biking/walking distance is a benefit some cannot afford and would have a longer commute as well as families who bus their children to “better” schools outside of their district.

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