Sunday, April 25, 2010

Driving bad for health & race relations

I normally bike everywhere: to work, to play, to north, west and south-side schools in 'bad' (poor and minority) neighborhoods. I normally like bicycling because I am much closer to the environment...and by environment what I really mean/care about is people. I don't know if you've ever gone down Augusta Ave between Central Park and Pulaski but it is HOPPIN. There are probably 7 young men standing out on every other block. That's a lot of guys just standing around on the corner...on lots of corners. One of my co-workers saw a shooting a few blocks south of my normal route. What was most disturbing about the shooting was that no-one was upset about wasn't a big deal in that neighborhood...they even preferred not to call the cops about the incident (which doesn't say much about law enforcement doing their job correctly in the neighborhood).

I really like biking this route because:
1. people on the corner are always surprised to see a white girl biking through (like I'm a white elephant).
2. I think it disarms people that I don't look scared...but actually look happy (I generally have a stupid grin on my face when I bike). If I'm not scared ... it seems like maybe there isn't a reason to be tense...maybe... the passage will be peaceful.
3. It's like swimming or doing well on a're scared to get in the water or try at first...but when you do actually jump in or see the results it's rewarding and you want to do it more. This isn't scary. Wow! The world isn't actually scary. (similar feeling to going to foreign country, surviving and making friends there).

For the past week I have been driving my mom's car to work on the West-side. The volvo station wagon feels like I'm in a tank. It makes my heart beat faster in a bad way, I feel anxious and for some reason more AFRAID even though I'm incased in a steel cage.
1. The car feels like I'm trying to hide from the environment (escaping people the way one escapes rain with an umbrella)
2. It's a big status I"m trying to show off wealth (unlike being on a humble bicycle)
3. It's something to loose...if the car gets jumped on or set on fire I loose a lot of $
4. I'm less mobile. If the car gets stopped I'm either stuck inside with the doors locked or I jump out and run...I am not fast or known for any type of endurance.

In theater (aka Chekhov) they say if a gun is introduced in the play it MUST go off. Don't put the gun in the play. Don't put the tank in the act. Don't move like you're about to be beaten. Get out of the tank and on your bicycle, it's better for everyone.