As massive protests against racist and brutal policing pass the half-month mark, the City Council has passed some significant limits on police weaponry and use of chokeholds. The Council is also developing major changes to the city budget through new revenue from a potential new tax on large businesses and through cuts to the existing police budget. There’s a long way to go and a lot of work left to do, but the Council is so far pointing in the right direction.
So how about the region’s transportation advocacy organizations? The protests have made many individuals and organizations look at themselves and question their own roles in maintaining or fighting systemic, institutionalized racism. Here’s what Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, Cascade Bicycle Club, Transportation Choices Coalition and Bike Works have said in recent weeks:
We share the outrage that has filled streets in Seattle and across the world over George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police. We grieve for his family, for Breonna Taylor’s, and for the families of hundreds of others who are killed by police each year (1,000 Americans are killed by police yearly — these deaths fall disproportionately on Black men).
We are also heartbroken and enraged by the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a young man out for his regular run in his South Georgia neighborhood.
The awful truth is that in America, including here in Seattle, running while Black, biking while Black, walking while Black, driving while Black, even just being in parks and other public space while Black can trigger police intervention, hate-based harassment, and worse. This atmosphere of terror for people of color, Indigenous people, and especially Black people, cannot continue.
Our vision is rooted in safe, comfortable, accessible streets; in the belief that the ability to get around safely, to the daily necessities of life, is a basic human right. This includes the right to not be murdered by police or civilian racists and the right to assemble in public spaces to demand justice (“Whose streets? Our streets!” “Black Lives Matter!” “Say his name! George Floyd!”) — without being corralled, tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed, beaten, or shot with rubber bullets and flash grenades.
Our commitment now is to continue to advance community-led solutions for street and public space improvements; to implement our racial equity action plan at every level of our organization; and to build solidarity with Black people, Indigenous people, and all people of color in the fight to dismantle white supremacy and racism. There is a long way to go and difficult self-reflection to undertake, but we are committed to doing our part to advance racial justice in Seattle so that everyone can exist, enjoy, protest, and travel safely on our streets.
Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes join the call to end violence and injustice against Black people and communities of color. We believe that Black Lives Matter, on and off the bike.
Our 50 year history of silence in response to racist violence and police brutality has harmed our community and we will no longer be passive bystanders. We acknowledge the lack of national progress to dismantle structural racism and we commit to doing our part.
To achieve our vision of bicycling for all, we need to ensure Black Americans have the right to safety in public space and life free from injustice. We are striving to realign our work with racial equity outcomes, and are committed to educating ourselves and being held accountable by our community.
As we seek to grapple with the violence and injustice impacting communities of color on and off the bike, particularly Black people in America, we wanted to offer resources for the Cascade community to learn, grow, give back, and support our neighbors.
- Read Toole Design: Silence is No Longer Acceptable
- Buy the book Bicycle / Race: Transportation, Culture, and Resistance
- Follow Black Girls Do Bike on Twitter
- Follow Charles T. Brown on Twitter, our Summit keynote speaker this September and an urban planner and justice advocate
- Read Tamika Butler’s blog about social justice, urban planning, and more
- Read Poor and Black “invisible cyclists” need to be part of post-pandemic planning
- Deep Dive Cyclista Zine’s list of resources
- Black Lives Matter Seattle Freedom Fund
- NW Community Bail Fund
- NAACP Legal Defense Fund
- Got Green Seattle (climate justice group led by people of color)
The long history of racism and systemic violence against Black people in America is shameful, and so many of us are outraged at the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade – yet more lives lost in this unbroken chain of over 400 years of injustice.
The national struggle for racial equity and social justice is at the center of our mission at Transportation Choices Coalition. Transit is a promise that everyone deserves equal access to resources, jobs, and the basic ability to move safely and dependably. It is no accident that one of this nation’s most famous acts of civil disobedience took place on a bus – and it is a sad reality that Black riders and other riders of color continue to struggle for safe and equitable access to transit.
Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by polluting highways that cut through their communities, discriminatory housing and land use practices, insufficient walking and rolling infrastructure that cause higher rates of injury, and longer, less frequent and less affordable transportation options. It is our responsibility as transit advocates to speak the truth about the barriers that stand in the way of meeting the mobility rights and needs of every person. Everyone should have the right to move freely and safely through our public spaces and transit systems. We need to keep pushing to ensure that transit funding is progressive and sufficient, service is ubiquitous, transit access is safe and comfortable, fares are affordable, enforcement is reformed and divorced from policing, and that agencies and governments develop racial and social equity programs and tools to help them center and evaluate equity within all aspects of their work.
TCC’s call to action has never been more clear – be relentless in ensuring that transit continues to be a force for good, that despite all the challenges ahead our agencies can continue to deliver excellent service to the people who depend on transit, and that we use our voices and our actions to further a world where systemic racism doesn’t predetermine how far people can go. We cannot achieve transportation justice without racial, social, and economic justice. There is no either/or in supporting transit excellence and taking action against systemic racism in our transportation systems.
As a currently white-led organization, we recognize that it is not enough to be not racist, it is necessary to be explicitly anti-racist. That’s why we will:
- Amplify Black voices in the transportation field.
- Create and support anti-racist policies with a broad coalition, instituting the use of race and social equity analyses in policy and process development, focusing on the priorities of Black communities and communities of color, sharing power and access, and centering their expertise in decision making.
- Continue to educate our staff, board, and supporters on how to be anti-racist. Prioritize and develop our organizational Racial Equity Action Plan.
- Speak out against white supremacy and deepen our understanding of racial justice and the intersections of racism, whiteness, and transportation.
You can join us in the fight for justice by supporting the many organizations that are working daily to promote equity and justice across our state, and by fighting with us to maintain funding for transit. We invite you to attend our Mobility Justice Power Hour, where we will share resources, stories, and build opportunities to organize for antiracism as a core part of all transportation advocacy.
Alex Hudson, TCC Executive Director
Rob Berman, TCC Board President
P.S. If you’re looking for resources, you can start by reading Stop Killing Us: A Real Life Nightmare, At The Intersections: Melanated Musings on Transportation and Mobility by and for Women of Color, Attention Transportation Advocates: Race Is A Part Of The Work, and Planning While Black, A Powerful Call for Racial Equity.
At Bike Works, we are saddened and outraged by the recent murders that have ignited the justified outpouring of anger and grief across the country and the world. Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, Manuel Ellis, George Floyd, David McAttee, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, and Breonna Taylor are just the most recent people to be murdered, along with too many others.
Through the grief comes hope as we see so many organizations and people exposing the pandemic of racism that plagues every aspect of our society. Real, systemic, institutional change must happen. The moment has come for everyone to join the longtime organizers who have been doing decades and centuries of hard work to make liberty and justice for all a reality.
We hope that you will take the time to read this very poignant statement from the People’s Institute for Undoing Institutionalized Racism. Here is just one excerpt:
“Systemic and cultural racism harms all families and it will take a multi-racial movement to end racism. Black families, our work is not only to dismantle the oppressive system but to use our organizing as a tool to heal from internalized oppression and help our people get a sense of their own power outside of the system. Non-black people of color, we can now see more clearly that the anti-black racism that this country was built on has used and abused your communities as well, especially in the wake of the targeted racial harassment of people of Asian American descent and the scapegoating of an entire people as the cause of COVID 19. Your organizing must address anti-blackness if you are going to ever truly be free of oppression. White folks, your work is in your communities. Learn your history, how you became white and the history of resistance of white folks working to undo racism. Organize and build a humanistic approach that takes responsibility for all white people- even your republican, conservative, liberal or overtly racist family members. When you deeply understand how the concept of whiteness has dehumanized you and harms your communities it can fuel you to work even harder to Undo racism.”
We invite you, our community, to hold Bike Works accountable to our anti-racist aspirations today and in the years to come. You can find our Racial Equity Action Plan for 2017 – 2020 on the “About” page of our website. We will share our new plan for 2021 – 2025 later this year and invite you to engage in dialogue and action with us to fight for the health, safety, prosperity, and happiness of our Black and brown family, neighbors, and friends.
Here are just a few resources to help you join us in taking action to support this movement:
- Social Justice Fund NW’s list of Black-led organizations to support
- Black Lives Matter Seattle – King County
- InGaj’s Peace Peloton ride to support Black-owned businesses (the next ride is 6/27)
Institutional racism doesn’t hurt us all equally, but it does hurt us all. Bike Works pledges to stay in the fight to undo institutionalized racism until it no longer exists.
Bike Works Staff & Board of Directors
UPDATE: Forgot to add Feet First:
Feet First is a statewide organization that promotes walkable communities in Washington. In the last few weeks we have seen again and again that our black neighbors are denied the fundamental human right to move about one’s community on public streets and trails without fear. Ahmaud Arbery was accosted and killed while jogging by white vigilantes. A white woman called the police on birdwatcher Christian Cooper, hysterically claiming she was being “threatened by an African-American male.” If police had responded would he have faced the same treatment as George Floyd? Detained and brutally killed on the street by police.
It can be tempting to think that such incidents are an aberration or unusual — or that it could not happen here in Washington. But that denies our own history.
We know that racial discrimination and white supremacy are real in our state. We know that black men are more likely to be reported as suspicious in our communities. We know that men or women from African immigrant communities are more likely to be singled out and harassed while walking based on their appearance and clothing. So-called “sit- lie” laws and anti-loitering statutes are driven by a motivation that some people are considered suspicious for simply existing on our streets and in our public spaces. Black men limit their activity in white neighborhoods to avoid harassment, having to deal with law enforcement, or — as in the case of Ahmaud Arbery — homicidal attack. Merely being in public exposes people of color to the unjust fear and bias of the larger community.
We stand with those who call for racial justice. We call on the supporters of our organization, and supporters of walkable communities generally, to recognize that our movement must include the call for racial and social equity. That we must listen to and engage with the communities most affected, and to seek to understand how our actions can contribute to racial discrimination, even if not our intention. Finally, we must use our voices, and work in coalition with others, to strive for lasting change. Our goals for safe and healthy communities will never be realized if a portion of our community must exist in fear on our streets.
Rooted in Rights expresses our explicit solidarity with movements across the country demanding justice and accountability for the murders of Black people at the hands of law enforcement. We acknowledge that our staff are white/non-Black POC, and as such, we remain committed to using our platform and privilege to uplift and amplify the voices of the Black community, especially Black disabled people. We recognize that not all forms of protest are accessible for all people, and want to emphasize that doing what you can in the ways that you can to support the broader calls for justice is valuable and necessary now, as always. #BlackLivesMatter #DisabledPeopleForBlackLives