We encourage and empower women/ trans/ femme (WTF) cyclists in a collaborative and fun learning environment through rides, discussions, shop nights and educational seminars in a safer space.
Grease Rag Open Shops are the hub of our activities and happen multiple times a month in Minneapolis and St. Paul (Minnesota). Find an open shop on the map (below) or explore the events calendar for all of our open shops and activities.
Grease Rag Facilitators (the people who greet you at open shop, lead rides, and are familiar with our safer spaces policies) and Organizers (the people who are doing Facebook moderation, admin, fundraising and collectively make decisions) had a meeting to discuss safety and security.
Grease Rag cannot guarantee complete safety. We can only work together to provide safer spaces for each other, so we can all feel free to live our truths.
This meeting was called because we need to be ready to defend our safe spaces. Over the years, there have been a few safety concerns, and the list of people (abusers) banned from our spaces keeps growing. A recent incident motivated Julia to organize this meeting and share her de-escalation skills with us. Julia works with kids with aggressive behaviors and has many de-escalation skills that transfer to Grease Rag’s safer spaces.
This is just a general guide, because each situation is unique, each person is different, and we all have our own style of confrontation. Listed below are some of the specific skills that we talked about and practiced at our meeting.
Your safety and the safety of the participants comes first!
Do not approach the acting out person alone. Take the other facilitator with you.
Move the conversation with the acting out person away from the participants or space.
Do NOT approach the person too closely or put hands on them, in any way, ever.
Use your best judgement about when to call the police or not. Keep in mind that there are can be huge - sometimes FATAL - ramifications for calling the police to intervene. *More in the section below
Try to be aware of what triggers your flight, fight, freeze. Is it safe for you to be confronting someone right now, in this way?
Don’t try to confront someone if you have been drinking.
Back in 2012, I organized a National Women's Bicycling Summit in Long Beach, CA — and I'm embarrassed to recall how narrow and harmful my vision was.
White savior talking about bringing bikes to Africa. A bike fashion show that was... beyond words. Even I cringed through half of the program.
Still, despite the fact that I invited them to be on an equity panel (Yep! Did that, too!), three young leaders from the Ovarian Psycos graciously accepted an invitation to speak. Representing their women-of-color led group which actively confronts injustice and builds radical community, they blew sh*t up with their rejection of the cartoonish but prevailing image of women biking in the advocacy community: compliant, skirt-wearing, white ladies riding Dutch bikes.
Just this month, I got schooled by the Ovas again, as founder Xela de la X came to Minneapolis for our screening of the Ovarian Psycos documentary. Not only did she make me consider my own role in perpetuating white supremacy as a communicator and cyclist — but she also addressed criticism that the Ovas' language is unwelcoming to trans, non-binary and disabled folx.
Xela at the Grease Rag screening, photo by Monica Bryand
One of the most important moments for me came before the film, as Xela explained the deeply problematic nature of white filmmakers telling the stories of women of color. That had a special sting. I was a reporter for many years, telling stories of powerful people, like Xela, in ways that were likely tokenizing and superficial. In my current job, I do communications around an issue that disproportionately impacts communities of color — that's also an issue I've never personally experienced.
It was uncomfortable, but necessary, to hear Xela talk about how that "white gaze" romanticizes and flattens fights against oppression, often leaving unexamined the role of white folx in creating and perpetuating the racist systems — and then discovering or "lifting up the stories" of people acting for their liberation. Not to mention minimizing or omiting community-driven solutions because they threaten the current paradigm.
Earlier this month, Grease Rag hosted a screening of Ovarian Psycos — a documentary featuring the radical work and leaders of the women of color bike brigade in Los Angeles. We were honored to welcome Xela de la X, one of the organization's founders (wearing the Feminist Militant shirt in the photos below), who shared her thoughts on the film and the Ovas efforts to confront injustice and create community.
Thanks to our community, we raised more than $1,100 for the Ova's creation of a healing space in LA and to support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) leaders in Grease Rag.
We were also privileged to have the talented Monica Bryand taking pictures. Check out some images of the event below and stay tuned for more reflections!
There was recently a discussion in our Facebook group about the pink pussy hats popularized by the women's march in January. I've collected some thoughts and resources here in this post.
Women and trans folks need to buck the cis heteropatriarchy in solidarity with each other
Reproductive rights, trans health, women's health, immigration reform, services for survivors of domestic violence, healing from sexual violence, wealth equity.
All of these things are critical to women/trans/non-binary/queer survival. None of these things are inherently white, or require a pussy. All of us who do not have white cis male privilege need to have access, rights, and resources.
That said, I'd like to ask everyone to join me in considering what a sea of pink pussy hats says to QTPOC women and trans folks who are struggling. What does solidarity look like? What doesn't solidarity look like?
Maintain a brave space by and for marginalized womxn of color.
Encourage militant, autonomous, models of community organizing and actions to address oppressive power structures.
Center our political analysis and community action to align with current struggles towards liberation.
These are just some of the radical principles of the Ovarian Psycos bike brigade in Los Angeles.
Rooted in “feminist ideals with indigena understanding and an urban/hood mentality,” the Ovarian Psycos bike brigade unapologetically confronts injustice and creates community for Latinx riders in Los Angeles. On May 6, Grease Rag is hosting a local screening of the recently released Ovarian Psycos documentary to stand in solidarity with our xisters in Los Angeles, and build community locally.
Our goal is to raise at least $2,000 to donate to the Ovarian Psycos’ creation of a healing space in LA — and resource Grease Rag’s work to center and support BIPOC+ (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) WTF leadership here in the Twin Cities. Funds will also support our venue, CTUL, which is organizing workers for better labor conditions.
Will you join us?
Date: Saturday, May 6
Location: CTUL, 3715 Chicago Ave, MPLS
Time: Doors at 6 p.m., program at 6:30 p.m. After the screening there will be time to connect and discuss the film with your community.
Suggested donation: $20 CA$H ONLY, no one turned away for lack of funds!
Grease Rag contacted the Ovarian Psycos before we decided to screen this film, to check in about the best way to share their story. Fetishsizing POC who organize their communities effectively is a form of white supremacy — and Grease Rag will not exploit the pain and struggle of these womxn for our own gain.
We determined that a joint benefit between the Ovarian Psycos and Grease Rag was a good way to support both of our organizations' goals. After the film, we'll be sharing some discussion questions that center the individuals instead of tokenizing as a means to honor their stories.
"Para todxs todo o nada para nadien."
Statement from Ovarian Psycos on the film
"We the Ovarian Psycos have been very very busy, so busy that even tonight we had to meet to do our seasonal criticisms / self criticism for our current core collective members (no time for popcorn and chill). The success of the Ovarian Psycos documentary is definitely accredited to the filmmakers’ skills and our labor of love, but in this documentary you will not find our daily work and struggles to defend our communities and you will not find our resistance! The resistance comes from our direct action in the streets and not on the screen. We are still currently and unapologetically sustaining an autonomous community space located in Boyle Heights La Conxa and have been doing so since 2014 without any federal, state, or local funding/grants and mainly through the community’s ability to come together and make shit happen organically. We also continue to support the anti gentrification movement in BH and throughout the city and are keeping our pedals firmly planted on the front line to keep that work alive.
The Ovas have been justifiably Angry/Psyco throughout the 6 years of organizing and specifically NOW more than ever we are infuriated , frustrated, and bitter with the way we as Woc, Poc, and Qtpoc are being disposed of. Whether it’s the LAPD gunning down our Brown and Black brothers and sisters, the city (sometimes our own people) selling out our neighborhood to the highest bidder, or the 64,000 black women who are currently missing, the struggle and work continues. Women are still being found dead in our community. Our working class neighbors are being pushed out of their community. We have our undocumented family living in a state of fear…..SO PLEASE DON'T COME AT US WITH THE 3rd Wave Feminism questions and CO-Ops…. We are coming from 500 years of colonization and we are never on the front lines on some photo opportunity/activism career. We are out here for our community and the 7 generations to come after. We do this for the seeds. Tlazo."