Black Lives Matter

I’ve seen what is happening around the world the last week or so (Amy Cooper and Charlie Cooper, and George Floyd) and I’ve felt powerless/helpless to do anything other than what I feel could come across as virtue signalling. I therefore wanted to put something together to point people in the right direction for cycling-based information (and other resources to help on a wider level) on tackling the sport’s blatant imbalance and how you can make a difference

I realise this is a niche that won’t affect a lot of the people who are really suffering right now, but this is a niche where I can make a difference and potentially help others to join the sport that has helped me so much over the years.

This list is by no means exhaustive and I don’t want it to be. I would love to constantly have to update this because of positive progress or new resources that come to light.

Diversity in Cycling

British Cycling published its Diversity in Cycling report last year with the help of some key leaders in the fight to address the imbalance. Within the report are statements from BAME cyclists as well as recommendations to improve diversity. At the time of writing this post, the only communication they’ve released on social media is a RT of the USA Cycling statement below.

Alongside this report, I want to highlight the importance of Dr Marlon Moncrieffe’s work on Black British Champions. He’s raising the profile of successful black British cyclists who have missed out on being celebrated. While attending a seminar at Manchester Metropolitan University a couple of years ago, my eyes were opened to my – and the wider industry’s – ignorance. I had an advantage due to my time working at British Cycling, so I know who Kadina Cox is, but there were many names on Marlon’s list I didn’t recognise. Shame on me. You can follow his work on Instagram and Twitter.

WTF Bike Explorers

Setup by six friends to explore how they can change the cycling industry, WTF Bike Explorers was founded in the summer of 2017 to represent BIPOC and trans people in the industry.

Their website is a hive of resources for brands and individuals who want to improve their accessibility and diversity. Brands can also sign the Cycling Industry Pledge to be held accountable for moves they make to champion inclusion by following the WTF Guiding Principles. Some of the brands who have signed up to the Pledge include Ride With GPS (my personal favourite mapping tool) and I-RIS.cc (whose jersey I wore during my last long ride), and I’ll be using this list to shape my purchasing habits in the future.

Ayesha McGowan

She’s been a driving force for inclusion of POC in cycling for as long as I can remember and she has pulled together a blog post that you’ll find useful when exploring how you can make a difference.

I’ve been in more than one terrifying racist situation that I wasn’t sure if it would end in my death or the death of the Black folks with me. Luckily that was not the case, but if it was, would you care? 

Read more

Pattie Gonia

Whiteness in the outdoors is something I’m very conscious of living in a whitewashed National Park. It is so rare to see groups of people of colour on the moors or even just walking around my local villages. Why is that?

I looked at the Peak District National Park’s corporate strategy for 2019-2024 which states they want to have “a National Park loved and supported by diverse audiences” and the method of them succeeding in this is outlined below. I’ll be interested to read developments about this KPI over the next few months.

Think before you buy

The best way to vote in a capitalist world is with your hard-earned, so make sure you inform yourself about the brands you purchase from.

  • Do they include people from all backgrounds in their photoshoots, particularly women and POC?
  • Do they invest their profits in causes that help oppressed people?
  • Are the brand ambassadors and influencers who represent these brands from diverse backgrounds?
  • Does the brand have POC in leadership positions both within the company and on a board level (if applicable)? If not, what are their policies on changing this and how have they improved over the years?

I’m not made of money and there are times when I buy without consideration for the above points, but I am committing to changing my purchasing habits. It will not happen overnight and it might take me a number of months or years for some bigger purchases.

There are businesses local to me who I can support for the work they do which isn’t necessarily wholly related to the cycling industry but I want my money to make a difference especially when I’m on my bike.

If anyone has recommendations for cycling or outdoor brands that are owned or operated by POC, please share them in the comments.

Step aside

I interviewed Emily Chappell back in December 2019 and asked her quite a poignant question about diversity in ultra-cycling and her reply stuck with me: let them speak. It’s all very well a white girl preaching about this but I need to learn to step aside on these issues and allow those people to speak up for what they need rather than what I think they need. The irony is not lost, I’m still here now, right? But my point is, if I can use my platform, my following and my actions to help others, I am all ready and willing.

Educate yourself

I’m really looking for recommendations on books to read here. This morning, I ordered “Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge as my first port of call. I am keen to expand my knowledge on this topic in the future. The Feminist Bookshop in London has an incredible selection of books about race and religion so I might start there.

Another way to learn is via social media. Seek out the voices you’re not hearing loudly enough. Follow the likes of Justin Williams and Yewande Adesida and listen.

VOTE

The people we elect to represent us in government have to be held to account. Check out your local MP’s voting record on TheyWorkForYou to find out their views on welfare, foreign policy (i.e. war and defence), immigration and the myriad of other issues that disproportionately affect oppressed people. If there is no information, write to your MP to clarify their standpoint on these issues.


Update 4/6: I wrote to my MP, Sarah Dines, yesterday. Below is a copy of the letter I sent if you want to raise similar issues with your own MP. So far I’ve received an automated reply.

Dear Sarah Dines,

As one of your constituents in the Derbyshire Dales, I am writing to you to clarify your standpoint on the following issues:

1. When will the full report regarding the investigation into the disproportionately high COVID-19 deaths of BAME people be released? What are your plans to tackle this issue on a national and more local level within Derbyshire Dales?

2. How have you responded to the violence and racism displayed in the last week in the United States? What has the Prime Minister communicated on behalf of the UK people to President Trump?

3. A large part of your constituency is within a National Park including my own village. I notice just how few people visit the National Park from diverse backgrounds and acknowledge that the PDNPA has a strategy to address this. Is there anything the government is doing on a national level to increase the presence of people of colour in the outdoors, specifically within National Parks?

4. What is being done within schools to promote antiracism? How will the curriculum address these pertinent issues so that the next generation can learn from our history? Is Black history being actively taught in schools to recognise the shortfalls of the past and, well, let’s face it, the present?

I look forward to your response and thank you for taking the time to read and respond.

Yours sincerely,

Grace Lambert-Smith


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