Discussing "The Unbearable Whiteness of Bike Advocacy" with the Diversity & Equity Committee

Did you know that the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition hosts a group of citizens and organizers once a month to discuss diversity and equity issues, and how they relate to bicycle advocacy?  The Diversity and Equity Committee meets on the first Friday of the month at the Coalition office (1428 Washington Ave S #204).  Please email laura@mplsbike.org if you would like to meet up with us.

Last month the group chose to read, “Conquering the Unbearable Whiteness of Bike Advocacy: An Equity How-to,” a Streetsblog post by Tanya Snyder.

Many bicycle advocacy groups find themselves in a sticky position today: They’re increasingly aware that their membership doesn’t reflect the diversity of the broader population, but they’re not sure how to go about recruiting new members, or how to do it in a way that doesn’t amount to tokenism.

Conversation and awareness raising are crucial to acknowledging inequities and elevating the level of understanding of those inequities.  In other words, change starts with speaking and listening within your community.  But as rich and necessary as talking can be, there is something very fulfilling and satisfying about coming up with tactics to confront diversity issues we see in our organizations and neighborhoods.  This article billed itself as an "equity how-to" and highlighted a healthy list of successful practices, identified in a League of American Bicyclists report The New Movement: Bike Equity Today, aimed at addressing the "unbearable whiteness."

  1. Listen
  2. Elevate new leaders
  3. Tailor the message
  4. Meet people where they are
  5. Teach skills
  6. Engage partners with more resources
  7. It’s bigger than bikes
  8. Be visible
  9. Look beyond the low-hanging fruit
  10. Give people their own space
  11. Correct the past
  12. More meetings? No thanks.
  13. Mentor newcomers
  14. Make it free

Our Diversity and Equity Committee discussed this article and came up with our own list of things we can implement at the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition.

  1. Listen. Listen deeply, listen actively. Listen. Know when to step back and listen. (This is a repeat, but it bears repeating!)
  2. Publicize who we are and what we do to be inclusive with Joy Rides and friendly, welcoming events
  3. Flyer at places we know we aren't at e.g. Brian Coyle Center
  4. One-to-one relationship building- coffee conversations build relationships
  5. Go to other organizations' events as a Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition representative, and listen about their work, talk about how their work impacts our lives e.g. attending NOC meetings
  6. Meetings should be "accessible" e.g. child-friendly, alternate meetings between day and night meetings
  7. Exit interviews for board and core volunteers is a useful way to integrate experiences of former board members
  8. Check-in with new board members and volunteers
  9. Opening exercises help ground participants e.g. Gender pronouns, context for meetings, "Why are we here?"
  10. Frequent meetings with some social time after (pizza!) can help groups click together

 Some of these things are already in action!  Our journey toward representing the diversity of Minneapolis will never be done, but we have been having some great discussions on how to move in the right direction, one pedal stroke at a time.  How do you define "diversity" within your organization, and what kind of intentional steps do you take to be equitable?

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