Fighting For Space.
****CN: drug use, overdose, death, sexualized violence****
Through the existence of the Black Spoke Collective we have strived to push a radical political mindset, into the cycling community. As opposed to cycling often being portrayed as a non-political, macho, ultra-tough and obnoxious we are outspokenly anarchist, anti-fascist, intersectional-feminist and big on animal rights.
In the last seven years we tried to create events and spaces to have fun on our bikes, experiment and built communities. We have since supported countless political projects and cycling events either with hands on work and/or donations. We are a non-profit collective. No one gets paid and every penny you spent goes toward (what we think) is a good cause.
In 2020 we picked two issues we want to address and support other projects with the proceeds. For that purpose we have reworked two of our main designs. The Ⓐnarchy logo with our beloved crows and the Ⓔquality logo with our favorite badger.
The headline is still the same: A is for anarchy, E is for equality. But we also want solidarity and we are still fighting for space. This is about our motivation for the new Ⓐnarchy logo, the issue and two organizations we want to support.
We need to talk about HARM REDUCTION. Say what?
Harm Reduction is a set of particular strategies & ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. It’s also a movement for social justice, built on a belief in and respect for the rights of people who use drugs. HR actively challenges narratives that have been told about people who use drugs.
Giving people access to tools like Naloxone, as a way to reduce the harm of both drugs & the war on drugs, is the most commonly known one. Distribution of Naloxone to community members has been going on since the mid. 1990s & has saved hundred thousands of lives. The same has been done with clean needles & other items for drug use. Birth control and self-test kits for HIV.
Broader strategies also fought and fight for affordable housing, decriminalization of drug use, basic healthcare as well as safe injection sites.
It’s basic human rights for a heavily marginalized people with no lobby.
Some hard facts and thinking points:
For better or worse, licit & illicit use of drugs is part of our world. We should work to minimize its harmful effects rather than ignore or condemn them.
Drug users should themselves be the primary agents of reducing the harm & we should work to empower them; to share information, support them in strategies which meet their actual needs. Our work should refer to care, treatment & therapy. Drug users should have access to all of them if they choose to.
Harm Reduction saves lives!
Syringe exchange does not enable drug use!
…and what’s that got to do with cycling?
Cyclists are obviously part of this world & so is their drug use. Its harm must be addressed. The messenger community has a unique story, we hope inspires you to think about HR.
You might have come across stickers, hashtags & even caution tape reading TRY HARDER. Many messengers have it tattooed in homage to Jacob Smoller, a Boston- based messenger who fancied the saying & passed away from a heroin overdose in 2015.
Proceeds will go to these two organizations:
1. The Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition works to create health equity in Iowa communities through advocacy, education & drug user health services. The IHRC is committed to building power among people impacted by the war on drugs in the US, including people who use drugs & communities of color; committed to acceptance of stigmatized & minoritized people and people who use drugs; committed to dismantling systems of race, class & gender-based privilege. Be sure to check their media guide & shop.
Syringe exchange programs in Iowa require legislative action.
2. The Steady Collective sets weekly at the collectively-owned radical bookstore & community event space Firestorm in Ashville, NC & also has a mobile distribution in an old ambulance. Steady’s vision centers the voice of former and active drug users at every level of the organization, a “nothing about us- without us” approach.
Their goal is to improve overall community health by reducing the rate of drug overdose & the spread of infectious disease with education, advocacy and direct services.
Syringe exchange programs are legal in North Carolina.
out to learn more.
Equality. Solidarity. Beyond Survival.
****CN: sexualized violence******
The first issue we want to focus on is sexualized violence. Although the products (like this cap) we created are meant to send a positive message and empower the person who wears it we need to say a few things about why we have created this.
We want to highlight what we think is important. Solidarity with survivors/victims and everyone in-between (!), community growth and accountability.
Sexualized violence is an all present problem within our communities – and yes that goes for the radical political and cycling communities, too. Be it harassment or be it rape, it important to say it’s always wrong and never ever, ever the fault of the affected person.
For decades we have seen communities standing by and sometime miserably fail when it comes to this complex issue. So it’s only logical that we talk about this hard, complex, overwhelming issue and put our actions where our mouth is.
Right here we must acknowledge that this is nothing new and who paved the way. Over decade’s POC and LGBTQI activist have been at the very forefront of this. They used transformative justice and a community accountability process/models and have learned to center the needs of survivors and change the conditions that support abuse.
We need to make sure that our experiments aspire to centralize the experience of the most marginalized people in our communities. One of the major challenges throughout every social & political justice movement was the inability to fully hold and implement an intersectional analysis. Our bold experiments should always give us the opportunity to collectively imagine a response without telling anyone to wait their turn. We need to understand the intersectional, systemic causes and scale of sexualized violence. To change it, we need organizing & movement building and system change guided by a liberatory vision.
At this point we also need to talk about the role of the state and/or more precisely the police. Radical movements and the cycling community alike are quick to call out ACAB. In mid. 2020 we can also see, on a very broad level, calls for massive defunding of the police. So far, so good. Sadly we must acknowledge that “don’t talk to the cops” has its limits when it comes to sexualized violence. That’s not to say go and call the cops. We cannot stress enough that any time the state steps in to deliver “safety” or “justice” it’s always a form of retraumatization, punitive & carceral logic which is at it’s very core racist, classistic, homophobic and transphobic and misogynistic.
That should lead to our organizations and movements to implicate protocols and the will to take action against sexualized violence and towards accountability. Unfortunately we must be honest with ourselves and say it loud and clear: Yes, we see improvement. No, it’s not enough. In fact there is so little that we must not condone survivors/victims for calling on the state, but it should always be the very last resort. It is up to us to make the police redundant in this matter.
This is obviously not a problem fixed overnight. There are no easy, nor fast answers. This is the work of centuries. To change anything, we must dare to envision a sustainable way. We must start small, build to scale & allow ourselves to learn from both our mistakes & success.
Sometimes this can look like a small social media post with a good picture of a nice cycling cap. Sometimes it’s a short list of do’s and don’ts:
What to do when:
1) BELIEVE SURVIVORS.
2) RAPE & RAPE CULTURE IS REAL, it’s happening everywhere. Every gender, every class, every place – no matter if we believe it or not.
3) STAND TOGETHER against survivor/victim blaming – stand up, speak up, do something.
4) Have the unpleasant & hard conversations about this.
5) It’ll be super hard & the timing will be bad – nonetheless, WE must do it! Don’t leave the extremely courageous survivors alone.
When supporting survivors:
1) Health and safety first.
2) Restore choice (of the survivor).
3) Believe & follow the lead (of the survivor).
4) No more violence.
5) Know your limitations.
6) Stay honest & committed.
7) It’s not about you, it’s not about you, it’s not about you.
Thanks for reading.