Monday, September 8, 2014

The Wheels Kept Turning

A couple of weeks ago an article was making the rounds on social media trying to explain the (often) unconscious effects of white privilege in society by drawing a simile to being a cyclist. You can read the original post here.

I read it, appreciated the message and shared it myself. Afterwards, however, I could not get the article out of my head. While the piece did a great example of demonstrating how driver bias reflects the realities of white privilege, in my daily life I see another bold example, every time I get into my car.

The behavior of some (not all) cyclists is actually a perfect example of white privilege in action.

Last Friday, on my way to work and driving down Milwaukee Avenue (which has dedicated bike lanes) I witnessed a non-helmet wearing cyclist (clutching a Starbucks latte in her left hand and her iPhone in the right) ride directly through a red light and then admonish (through an open window) the driver of a van who she felt was encroaching on the bike lane (he was not).

If this incident was rare and/or unique, I could let it go, but I see this sort of thing on a daily basis. Cyclists ignoring the rules of the roads (blowing through red lights, stop signs, etc) without giving it a second thought while drivers like myself seethe (or worry).

Imagine, for a moment, a system where it's acceptable to be a person who wants others to acknowledge their unquestionable equality, while they simultaneously choose for themselves which rules they should/will follow.

This is what white privilege looks like. And it's ugly.

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