23 May
2017

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Pink Pussy Hats: Peak #ciswhitefeminism

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on May 23, 2017   comments 1

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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01 May
2017

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Listening to Community Project

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on May 1, 2017   comments 1

Grease Rag Friend Amy Brugh asked me to contribute to her Listening to Community Project. She has asked a diverse group of people to answer some questions about what it means to listen to community. I was honored to be asked!

There will be more perspectives added, so visit Amy Brugh Consulting on Facebook if you'd like to follow along.

Listening to Community

Introduce yourself

L. Kling, they, them, theirs pronouns

I have been organizing with GreaseRag.org for eight years, working at the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition for three years, and part of the Minneapolis community for thirteen years. I spend my time facilitating spaces where people are invited to feel safe, where people commit to resisting oppression, and where people can reflect and be introspective together. I'm especially interested in facilitating spaces for BIPOC+ WTF* folks in an effort to reclaim space from cis white male privilege. I love complexity and intersections.

*BIPOC+ means Black, Indigenous, People of Color. Grease Rag is using the "+" to include folks who have an "it's complicated" relationship with their race.
WTF means women, trans, femme. More about this on Grease Rag's FAQ page, but in short, it means anyone who does not benefit from cis male privilege.

What does listening to community mean to you?

"Listening to community" is easy, and complicated.

The easy part is listening. Listening to hear, and listening and affirming someone's experience takes time, intention, and some skills. But it is not rocket science!

The hard part can be defining community, and creating space where people feel comfortable talking, and feel they are being heard. Is how you define community in line with how a community defines itself? If not, you have a problem! Within the community, there will be subcommunities and identities that add to the complexity of the larger group. That is natural and good! But are you creating space for everyone to speak?

Space can be physical- can someone with a mobility device or vision impairment participate? Space can be a feeling- does it feel hostile or unwelcoming? Space can be structural- Is there a process in place so that dominant voices don't take over the conversation?

Listening to community is also hard to do without community expertise. If you are not from a community, you need to connect with that community to have them drive what "listening" and "sharing" look like. Because it can be very different between communities! Assuming that you know the best way to communicate with a group of people is an oppressive behavior. A behavior where dominant culture assumes their experience is universal, which has the effect of erasing non-dominant culture.

How would you like to be listened to?

I have written a lot on how I would like to be listened to. It starts with how I would like to be asked to participate in a conversation. Every conversation should be consensual, and I should be allowed to set boundaries for what is to be discussed. I need the opportunity to say no. I want my time to be honored, and sometimes this means being monetarily compensated. But not always! Sometimes my time being honored looks like me getting credit for my words, and sometimes it means doing a skill trade so that I can grow as I offer my input.

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25 Mar
2017

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Delivery Cyclists in NYC

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on March 25, 2017   comments 0

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

Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr

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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07 Mar
2017

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WTF Grease Rag? Podcast

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on March 7, 2017   comments 0

LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST: SOUNDCLOUD

You can stream, or download for listening later! Click here.

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International WTF Day

#InternationalWTFDay is our day.

Our day is rooted in the labor struggles that continues today.  Our day recognizes not all labor fits into the traditional economy, but that doesn't mean it is not real work. Our day celebrates the spectrum of our genders, and does not stop at "woman." Our day does not determine membership with genitals. Our day is multi-generational, multi-cultural, and intersectional.

Join the WTF labor strike! March for trans youth, for trans women of color, for Black lives, Queer rights, sex workers' rights, single moms, and for access to sexual and reproductive health. March for Jaquarrius Holland, Chyna Gibson, Ciara McElveen, Mesha Caldwell, Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, Keke Collier, and Jojo Striker.

Celebrate with us by listening to our stories in our podcast. Everyone volunteered their time for this labor of love, with the offer of sliding scale compensation, although there is no price to be put on the value of our experiences!

WTF Grease Rag?

Listen here

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Anna and Maddy!

Thank you

Thank you to Maddy Love for recording, editing, and publishing this podcast! Anneka for the ambitious idea and motivation to tell our stories. Anneka, Riley, Shruthi, Holly, Anna, Amanda, Meg, Emily, Lily, Kenzie, Anna, and Andi for trusting us with your stories!  You are powerful and important! We value you!

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And thank you to my kitties for sitting on laps and purring so we could relax into our recording session.

26 Feb
2017

1 Comments

Day 26 of Loving Winter 2017

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on February 26, 2017   comments 1

I #lovemnwinter!  Today, I love that #feministselfie light.

There's less sun in the winter, so make the most out of those golden hours. Is it just me, or does that low angle sun just make you look radiantly beautiful in your forward-facing camera?!

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Selfie of a QTPOC person on a bike in the perfect light, with a gray scarf on their face, white helmet on that says, "peace"

Merriam Webster added "selfie" to the dictionary in 2014. It's official! Selfies are a legit, mainstream form of self expression.

I avoided sharing selfies for a long time because I felt shy about being slut-shamed, sexist comments, or people mocking my mock duck face as conceited vanity.

But you know what?

If I don't love myself, and my image, no one else is going to do it for me! 

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Selfie of QTPOC person on a bike with a bright organge hat on, jean jacket, and a geometric shadow from a fence

I embrace the selfie, because I should not be ashamed to love my own image, and there is no shame in celebrating and broadcasting that! Let's live in a society where we can tell each other, "You look like you feel good!"

When I feel that my voice and my image are not represented by mainstream media?? What can I do?? Self publish some self love via selfie:

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Closeup of QTPOC person's eye, tiny ice drops on their eyelashes, with a white helmet that reads "RIFF" and a gray scarf covering their face

An article on #feministselfies:

We have entire industries depend on the perpetuation of women’s inferiority complexes.

Diet pills, acne cream, fashion, and pretty much the entirety of the advertising and marketing industries are just a few examples of why society has a vested economic interest in keeping girls’ self-esteem low.

I don’t mean to suggest that anything marketed toward women is inherently bad. However, the predominant message often promotes negative self-image.

The social status quo is also at stake. Girls are taught from an early age that they can only feel good about themselves through the approval of everyone else, especially men, and should be willing to change or compromise at the drop of a hat in order to achieve acceptance.

Resist that shit. We're beautiful.

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Selfie of QTPOC person on a bike in bright red plaid pants, a big wool shirt, black cap, white helmet, gray scarf and sunglasses, and a lipstick'd smirk of smug confidence

Read about last year’s collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February of 2016. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls.

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