Grease Rag Ride & Wrench


We encourage and empower FTW (Femme/Trans/Women, Non-binary, Two-spirit) 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.

Find a Grease Rag open shop night near you

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Connect to Grease Rag - Join this lively community in our Facebook group, organize and discuss Grease Rag on our Google Group, or follow us @greaseragmpls

Still have questions about what we do and who we are?  Read our FAQ!

25 May
2017

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Ovarian Psycos Reflections: When white people tell BIPOC stories

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on May 25, 2017   comments 0

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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 gifting bikes to villages in 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 in the bike 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.

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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 — 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.

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24 May
2017

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PHOTOS: Ovarian Psycos screening and fundraiser!

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on May 24, 2017   comments 11

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!

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23 May
2017

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Pink Pussy Hats: Peak #ciswhitefeminism

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on May 23, 2017   comments 58

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?

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Assigned Male Comics by Sophie Labelle

Pink pussy hats are not inclusive of BIPOC and Trans women

This article verbalizes some of the reasons why pink pussy hats are unwelcoming and threatening to me, as a QTPOC.

Respect to Angela Peoples in this photo taken by Kevin Banatte.

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29 Apr
2017

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May 6: Ovarian Psycos screening

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on April 29, 2017   comments 1

OP16_Xela_and_Ovas.jpgMaintain 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!
  • Food: There will be snacks and refreshments!

Can you help?

Important note from Grease Rag

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."

25 Mar
2017

14 Comments

Delivery Cyclists in NYC

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on March 25, 2017   comments 14

I was lucky enough to volunteer for a few hours with the Biking Public Project in New York when I was visiting recently.

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The Biking Public Project is a group of volunteer activists and organizers trying to make bike advocacy more inclusive and representative. BPP has been working on projects relating to women, people of color, and delivery cyclists for a few years. Their most recent project is focused on delivery cyclists in NYC.

From BPP:

We can choose to hear food delivery cyclist voices and experiences, yet often we do not. BPP has started a new participatory research project with food delivery workers called “Delivering Justice.” In this project, BPP seeks to support and empower food delivery cyclists by partnering with them to characterize abuses, create counter-narratives, and generate actions to improve labor and street conditions. We plan to do a lot of surveying of food delivery cyclists along with some focus groups and perhaps even some mapping and other data collection and analysis.

Follow the Biking Public Project

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Food Delivery Cyclists are Subject to Racist Enforcement

In New York, a city full of people who don't cook and rely on food delivery, it is abhorrent how food delivery cyclists are treated, looked down on, and discriminated against. (Always tip your delivery workers! They depend on it!)

I volunteered with BPP to hand out surveys to delivery cyclists in Manhattan. I handed out 60 surveys to the young brown and black men out delivering, or left them on bikes parked outside of restaurants, identifiable by their large baskets, e-bike batteries, placards showing which businesses own the bikes, and their large backpacks.

  • Delivery cyclists are low-paid, and are often subject to wage theft from shady employers who want to exploit their labor
  • Because of the low wage and high chance of exploitation, delivery cyclists are vulnerable and are often poor, and sometimes undocumented
  • Cracking down on delivery cyclists is inherently racist because the majority of them are poor, people of color
  • Citation data shows that enforcement is disproportionately affects minorities, and commercial districts where delivery cyclists work
  • Because of a weird legal gray area in NYC law, e-bikes are illegal and can be seized by law enforcement
  • Decision makers are not listening to the experiences of these workers

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Wage theft

BPP is working to collect this data to hopefully influence the system that makes being a food delivery cyclists a hard life. Wage theft is a huge part of the problem.

Workers of Indus Valley Restaurant came together to demand their bosses, Phuman and Lakhvir Singh, stop stealing their wages. They worked more than 60 hours per week, paid as little as $3/hour and never paid overtime. They won a court decision of $700,000.
Instead of paying the workers, the Singhs changed the name of the business from Indus Valley to Manhattan Valley and claim to have sold the business. These tactics are used by many unscrupulous employers—Nations Cafe, Mei Shi Lin, Grand Sichuan, to name a few–to ignore court judgments and continue to break the law.

The SWEAT bill (A628/S579) will make it harder for employers to do this and is on the cusp of becoming law. Let’s come together to pass SWEAT and help prevent wage theft!

Read here for more information about delivery cyclist abuse by employers.

Police enforcement

BPP released a report that shows how policing effects delivery cyclists.

From 2007 to 2015, 92 percent of commercial cycling tickets were issued in just four Manhattan precincts, covering the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, and parts of Midtown — areas whose populations are 75 percent white. Meanwhile, non-commercial infractions were most heavily concentrated in precincts with high levels of poverty and majority-minority populations.

The severely disproportionate policing of commercial cyclists by those four Manhattan precincts — the 17th (Midtown East), 18th (Midtown North), 19th (Upper East Side), and 20th (Upper East Side) holds true when controlling for the large number of restaurants in those areas.

In Midtown East, for example, 291 commercial cycling summonses were issued annually for every 100 restaurants. In comparison, the 88th Precinct in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill issued just .37 tickets per year per 100 restaurants.

The top eight precincts for commercial cycling infractions per 100 restaurants are all in Manhattan. “The commercial cycling infractions are all happening in affluent, white neighborhoods,” Biking Public’s Do Lee told Streetsblog. “Most [commercial cyclists] tend to be Asian and Latino immigrant workers.”

At the same time, all but two of the top 10 police precincts for non-commercial cycling summonses are in majority-minority neighborhoods. You can toggle between the commercial and non-commercial bike enforcement datasets on this map:

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“Given that most working cyclists in NYC are food delivery workers who tend to be Latino and Asian immigrants,” concludes Lee in a recent summary of the research, “this map means that in NYC, people of color who bike have been policed both where they live and where they work.”

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Click here for the study maps.

Crackdowns on e-bikes disproportionately affect minority cyclists

Further, the NYPD proudly cracks down on e-bikes, primarily used by delivery cyclists.

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NYPD confiscated 247 e-bikes, which are about $1500 each, minimum. So NYPD has just dispossessed mostly workers of color of about $370,000. Is this how #VisionZero is supposed to work? Do we feel safer because of this?

Negative narratives are racist and unfounded

If you have to speed to your delivery or risk not getting a tip, how would you ride through traffic? Are delivery cyclists a danger to other road users? Much of the narrative around these delivery cyclists is made without speaking to the workers, and negative impressions are allowed to circulate unchecked by other perspectives.

That’s the conclusion of a report from the Biking Public Project [PDF]. The authors identified 74 stories about delivery cyclists published in NYC newspapers and online outlets (including Streetsblog) between 2004 and 2014, and found that only 27 percent included at least one quote from a food delivery person.

I volunteered for this project to help raise the voices of NYC delivery cyclists. I recently read this article about their situation, and was moved by Xiaodeng Chen's words.

“Doing this job, you’re constantly reminded that you are not part of the community. You’re reminded that you’re an outsider,” Chen says. “You see the city for what it is.”

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