A year and two weeks ago, I wrote Snow in Austin, Winter in America, based on a powerful song by Gil Scott-Heron. I think that post is some of my best work, not necessarily prize-winning, but in trying to capture a mood. (You should go read it now. I’ll wait.) The street poet, progenitor of rap, musician, and author was a voice of conscience regarding the state of Black people in America, among other things. He could also lay down some serious grooves to go with his strong words; Winter in America is in a minor key and has a great blues flute solo. I wrote that post right before coronavirus began its whirlwind tour of the US — just before it went viral. (Ha!) It was a few months before the modern-day lynching of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. (Not ha.) Scott-Heron died on May 27, 2011, a decade ago later this year. What would he have to say about Floyd’s killer, Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin still being out on bail awaiting trial and maybe even getting some justice for George (yeah, we’ll see about that)? Time marches on. But as Sting once sang,“History will teach us nothing.” The prophetic music and lyrics of Scott-Heron and others like him (Marvin Gaye comes to mind) are relevant — still. Maybe in GSH’s poetry we can find a little solace in these cold and dark days. Or maybe we’ll get pissed and take action somehow. It is Black History Month, but is there more to it than history?Continue reading
Word arrived that this bike ride was happening Friday night. My social calendar being empty as always, and not sitting shiva either, it seemed like a good way to reduce some of my white privilege. I’ve been an ally in a variety of causes ever since I was a baby; my mom took me to civil rights protest in Little Rock, Arkansas and Dallas, Texas. I’ve wanted to be solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, but a small number of people hijacked protests with violence, and there has been a disproportionate police response that has put numerous protesters in the hospital. (See my recent post, Nonviolent Justice for George Floyd and Bronna Taylor.) I have not been on a group ride since mandatory stay home orders and social distancing were set up by the health department in mid-March. So while it was risky, I felt that with a mask, staying away six feet or more from others as possible (often not, but most people had masks), and being outdoors, it was worth it. I always am looking for my daily dose of miles and exercise, too. It turned out to be a peaceful and educational night.Continue reading
For the record, I join the majority of sentient humans with brains, hearts and consciences — people who know the difference between right and wrong — and oppose the unnecessary and allegedly illegal police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Closer to home, police killed Botham Jean in Dallas and Mike Ramos right here in Austin, That’s just four among the many, Many, MANY more people of color abused and murdered by police brutality and institutional racism. I’m also opposed to violent protesters distracting from the message of nonviolent social justice.
There’s not much more to add that millions of others aren’t already saying. But I will try to speak my truth as a white ally. By the way, there’s a pandemic still going on. Meanwhile, far, Far, FAR lower on the spectrum of things that matter is this. I still rode my bicycle every day in May for a total of 488 miles, averaging 15.74 per day, totaling 2,501 for 2020 thus far. And my knees hurt. Probably from biking every day in May for … you get it. If I do not report this, the government-backed terrorists win. So report I shall. Bear with me as I write a post that may make no sense but has to be said.Continue reading
Snow fell from the cold, dark skies on my bike ride home from the gym. The frozen precipitation is rare in Central Texas, especially in relatively mild winters like we’ve been having. So it’s a wondrous sight when it does snow. I felt lucky to have been outside riding when it came down. Light, white, wet kisses on my face melted quickly. Some accumulated on car hoods and lawn chairs, and the roommates and dogs were happy to see and feel it, too.
Of course in other places, there are no romantic notions about snow, because they’re drowning in it and shoveling it by metric ton. Another substance is also being shoveled in similar quantities, but it’s brown, smelly, and comes out of the back end of a cow. And by that of course, I can only be referring to the State of the Union, which was by some accounts a total snow job. Winter isn’t coming, Jon Snow, it’s already here. The revolution will not be televised. It’s winter in America.Continue reading
A Visitor of Some Renown
Dr. Adonia E. Lugo, (maybe I’ll call her Doctor Wheelgood), who is Affiliate Faculty in Urban Sustainability at Antioch University Los Angeles, was here in Austin for the Imagine Austin Speaker Series. Her talk was called, “Mobility Justice: People Power & the Future of Urban Transportation.” Those in attendance said it was quite good. I wouldn’t know.
That’s because unfortunately, I didn’t hear about it until after the fact, which really bummed me out. A guy who knew about it said he was sure I was the one who told him — until he noticed I wasn’t there. Well, duh! I actually blogged about her recently in The Invisible Or Utility Bicyclist An Ignored Population. In it I reference her book (which I need to get and read and review here). It’s called Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, & Resistance, a memoir about racial justice and sustainable transportation. The good news is that her talk was recorded on video and will be forthcoming at this City of Austin link. Continue reading
April 4, 2018 marks 50 years from when The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated by a racist. Imagine how different the world might be if he were allowed to live. The movement to end the US war on Vietnam, the Poor People’s Campaign, the overall condition of African-Americans in the US, and many more were issues he advanced, making life better for all of us; they all could have progressed further much had he not been killed.
How much more could he have accomplished? Lives saved? Dignity restored? Barriers broken down? It breaks my heart to think these thoughts and to write these words. As well it should. We lost a true American hero that day. But to cheer us up, here is a picture of him on a bicycle a year before his death, yes, riding a bicycle on Fire Island. A Dude can link ANYTHING to bicycling.Continue reading