After attending the, ‘Let’s Talk: Intersectional Feminism and Biking’ program coordinated by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) on January 24th, I left with more questions than answers. This is good! In my opinion, that’s what a program like this aims to achieve. From the lens of a non-profit bicycling coalition, we have to constantly ask: Are we inclusive of ALL of our communities within Silicon Valley? How are we actually helping our communities connect? How is economic equity playing a role? Are we challenging ourselves to critically explore ways to improve relationships and access? And, perhaps most importantly, how are we ‘doing with, and not for’ the communities we hope to serve?
At SVBC, I know we are working hard to improve bicycling infrastructure, access, and safety across our communities. I’m really grateful to work amongst colleagues who are challenging themselves and one another. We actively push ourselves into places of discomfort as we have reflective conversations around diversity, equity and inclusion. Are we perfect human beings? No. Are we perfect as we strive to improve bicycling infrastructure in Silicon Valley? No. Nobody is perfect, and I don’t believe that ‘practice makes perfect.’ Perfect is not real – we can only aim to constantly improve and learn from the past. And I’m proud to be at an organization that is striving to improve.
One of the topics that continues to percolate in my mental hopper is how we’re walking our talk. For instance, when we bring people to the table for brainstorming and decision-making meetings, are we examining closely who’s in these meetings. Are we tokenizing our communications by believing that a simple invite to marginalized communities will suffice? Have we cultivated relationships with invitees and created a welcoming space? Have we considered challenges that don’t allow some members to arrive at the table? It’s important to think about where and when meetings are happening. Are children welcome for a single parent without childcare? Are snacks available for someone juggling time demands? Logistics that some may take for granted may create a huge obstacle for others. Collectively thinking about some of these questions will help ensure diverse voices and representation are present at the table.
Towards the end of the aforementioned program, someone asked, ‘what can I, as a white guy and an ally do?’ It’s a big question, but honestly some of the answers really aren’t that complicated:
- Show up. Push yourself out of your comfort zone.
- Listen. Rigorously listen and strive to understand.
- Challenge others. Challenge bias. Challenge words and actions that are not contributing to a greater good.
- Donate! Give money to organizations supporting marginalized communities.
- Invest. Hire. Mentor. Include.
- Provide opportunities that can empower people without access.
I’m glad I had the opportunity to attend this program hosted by the SFBC. I look forward to engaging in more programs and events that challenge us to critically reflect. If you have suggestions for topics, programs, or conversations you’d like to see, please let me know!