Reports yesterday from WUSA9’s Mike Valerio was that the DC Vienna Metro exit was blocked to the public for white supremacist protestors.

This Monday they will say that anti-racists outnumbered the white supremacists, but the fact is DC is the chocolate city and it’s become the caramel city owing to the white supremacists involved in creating its urban planning, transportation, political, and economic policies.

The Black people in DC can’t even access the Metro during business hours, but Metro closes an entrance for white supremacists?

Almost twice as many white people in DC take the Metro to work than Black people, in fact white people are so close to their jobs they can walk to work, more white people have the privilege to walk to work, 19,000, than Black people have access to the Metro, 16,000.

The racism that has long been experienced by the Black community in DC is racism under soft power. In S&M this is called soothing before the beaten. It is how you soften someone up, so they are less likely to complain or cry when you give a really good punch.

You make a little bit of pain normal, so then when you unleash your real self, there is less squirming.

Sadistic racism is normalized in DC, institutional and personal.

The term soft power in politics, but they say it means persuasion or co-opting, like you co-opt Black politicians to smile in photos and not do anything when the people who voted them into office are moved out of their homes through economic violence and then you persuade Black people to live far away from the train on the other side of the river by not giving them a loan to buy a house by the train, yeah I guess that is persuasion.

According to DC Economic Strategy the median income of Black people in DC is $44,000 the median income of white people in DC is $154,000.

The Black DC community bears the brunt of automated and human policing.

Much of the Black community is segregated to the east side of the Anacostia River. These communities are the last to get the benefits of urban planning and dollars spent on infrastructure. The Black community is the first to be mocked as the old DC. The Washingtonian a trendy magazine even had a campaign to show that DC is whiter now (so better)  with white people smiling under a #ImNotATourist hashtag and wearing I’m not a tourist T-shirts.

Not one Black person in the photo shoot.

There is no attempt to hide the contempt of the Black community in DC.

I’ve been to DC three times and if I don’t make an effort, I will never see a Black person. The first time I did not see any Black people.  I went to a coffee shop that played jazz music, with Black people on the walls, and I was the only real Black thing there.

The white supremacists didn’t just come to DC this weekend, protected by the DC police with a private train and entrance from Metro, they’ve been there.

They go to work every morning on the Metro.

White supremacists have silently shown themselves for years in DC.

They have shown themselves in the policies they have created, supported, and implemented, policies that have robbed DC’s Black residents’ of their voices, economic opportunities, and now their homes.

by Lark Lo


The fight for Black people to get their share of protection under the Clean Air Act (CAA)  has been going on since, 1963, the year the CAA was introduced. The CAA was the first federal law that had embedded in it a statue to control air pollution, not just observe air pollution, but control it. The CAA in 1970 created and then directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set minimally safe acceptable standards for pollution activities by corporations and individuals.

The EPA does not have a strong racial equity policy in regards to enforcing the CAA, not amongst the people who get the contracts to build and design homes and buildings and not amongst the Black community that is still highly impacted by racist policies that have the Black community living in neighborhoods with the most unclean air in the United States.

The EPA did not open an Environmental Justice office until 1992 and as we have come to learn,  justice is not equity. Justice attempts to make things fair right now, equity makes up for what was unfair in the past and makes up for those past injustices.

To quote the Rose Joshua, Esq, President of the NAACP, Southside of Chicago branch, “Equity is reparations.”

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Newark’s Donna Iannicelli quest to become the first African-American woman downhill cyclist has been pretty bumpy owing in large part to racism (picture By Jeff Barber)

While utilitarian cycling is becoming more racially diverse, a 2010 study
states that 23% of utilitarian cyclists are Asian-American, Latinx, or Black. There is still a problem The infrastructure for Black, Latinx, and Asian-Americans is woefully inadequate and not only that it is purposefully inadequate for the convenience of the middle class (that’s code for white people.)

In general, cities and counties idea of cycling is recreational. Getting cycling accessible to hyper-segregated communities is not only challenging, but nearly impossible, especially when kudos continue to be given for just the act of carFREE parks and wilderness areas, where road, mountain, and other recreational cyclists practice.

This is problematic, because road and mountain cycling are unabashedly very white, very male, and both take a large amount of economic and social capital to participate.

What message does it send to Latinx and Asian-American delivery cyclists? What Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 9.04.23 AMmessage does it send to working class Black people who use their bike to get home.  People who use their bike, because of poor bus and train service and housing on the outskirts owing to racism, which makes cycling not a choice, but a requirement, but sadly only for the young and able bodied, because the streets where Latinx and Black people live are some of the most dangerous and inhospitable to people who walk and ride their bike.

White people get a carFREE park and a new train and we get run over for just crossing the street?

It is noticeable to Black and Latinx communities that the only place in many cities where you can get some infrastructure is one where you have a loud and vocal demographic of roadies.

Is the only voice that matters for bike and public transportation infrastructure, a white and male one who bikes in the Switzerland during the summer?

Road and mountain bicycles cost thousands of dollar, yes, bicycles are cheaper than a car, but sometimes they are more and besides the single story narrative (highly annoying and insulting by the way) many cycling advocacy organizations give is that ALL Black and Latinx people are poor, so adding multimodality cycling to the mix is about caring about diversity and equity.

How do you expect the general public to buy this (so basic) story when you promote 50-100 mile rides with expensive entry fees?

Poor people can’t afford a bike over $500 dollars and the economically oppressed aren’t invited to ride to Europe to ride around in circles and they also aren’t invited to ride around the mountain tops of Africa, so this great for parks being carFREE that benefit the demographic of people practicing for these tournaments is not progress for people who need bicycles to get to and from work.

I am a utilitarian cyclist, like many people of color who ride a bicycle for transportation. I need a separated bike lane on Bloomfield in NJ, Flatbush in Brooklyn, and Crenshaw in Los Angeles. I don’t need a place to clear my head and I don’t need or care about riding my bicycle to Canada.

I need to get to work.

I know in cycling we’re supposed to not separate the roadies from the utilitarian cyclists, but in my opinion roadies are bringing their white supremacist all male hobby perspective (we’re still having firsts Black people moments in roadie and mountain cycling in 2018, which is not only ridiculous, but disgraceful) into a lane that is harmful to the average person just trying to get home. This entire country was built for the benefit of rich white men and rich white men shouldn’t get to ride their bikes first, just because they are rich white men.

If you spend money on an all white and practically all male hobby (and the women division is even more white than the men,) I don’t know how well you can speak on issues of equity, being fair, and being just when you only do it Monday-Friday from  9-5 p.m. I don’t know how you can advocate for fairness, when your free time is spent on a hobby that has no problem being racist, sexist, and classist.

In part B will address some concrete ways to address these issues.

Lark Lo

Brandale D. Randolph, is the founder and owner of the 1854 Cycling Company. He is also the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Project: Poverty, a nonprofit organization that aims to design, create and implement innovative strategies to reduce poverty. Part of his work included teaching job readiness seminars at the South Plains Workforce Solutions Center, teaching financial literacy at the Lubbock County Detention Center, the Youth Transition Center and among other under-served populations. His work with disadvantaged populations earned him a TEDtalk at the inaugural TEDxTexasTechUniversity in 2013 titled “Stop Throwing Breakfast Sandwiches at the Poor.” He is an author. His 2010 book “Me & My Broke Neighbor: The 7 Things I Learned About Success Just By Living Next To Him…” has been added to financial literacy curriculum across the country. His 2016 release “Like Cavemen & Quail: Poverty Beyond Income and Mindset” has received rave reviews from reviewers and publishers all across the world. Brandale D. Randolph has given more than two dozen guest lectures on Social Entrepreneurship and Poverty Alleviation at Universities and Colleges such as Babson College, Texas Tech University’s Rawls College of Business, and Lubbock Christian University. He now lives in Framingham, MA with his wife and two sons.

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Transit Oriented Development was a term coined by Peter Calthorpe in his 1993 book, “The New American Metropolis.”

In it he said:

“It is time to redefine the American Dream. We must make it more accessible to our diverse population: singles, the working poor, the elderly, and the pressed middle class family who can no longer afford the Ozzie and Harrietversion of the good life.”

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Image from, design by Lark Lo

Within urban planning, transit-oriented development creates communities where you live, work, and play walking distances from non-car transportation, like cycling and public transit. We all save money by being able to be carFREE.

Now that all sounds great, but 25 year later what has happened?

What has happened is that TOD is unaffordable except for the most privileged and not even the predominantly white middle class school teacher (I guess that’s still middle class) can afford to live in or near TODs. In the paper “The Cost and Affordability Paradox of Transit-Oriented Development” it is stated that TOD is priced out of the range of most people who live in the United States.

And why wouldn’t it be. The biggest proponents of it tout economic growth over and over and over again. I don’t know about you, but when people tell me who they are, I believe them. The number one selling point for TOD by its real estate and development funded “organizers” when they talk to  politicians and planning boards is that it will increase economic activity i.e. real estate growth. The funders of the PR for TOD don’t care about bicycles or public transit or social equity or ending racism, they care about MONEY, that is it.

It saddens me that a small portion of the bicycling community has been bamboozled by these liars, because a society where only the rich can live in its urban cores isn’t going to make the US more bikeable or multimodal or bring justice, it really isn’t, it is going to do the exact opposite.

There is only talk about affordability after the public stands up and says, “Hey we’ve seen what has happened to our friends in these places and they can no longer afford to live in their house.”

Norman Krumholz (1982) defined equity planning as an effort to provide more “choices to those… residents who have few,  if any choices.”

The Black community regardless of socioeconomic class has fewer choices in regards public transportation, walking, and cycling.  Facebook Post - Untitled Page

A 2001 study by NHTS found that 63% of transit riders are poor and/or Latinx or Black. A 2017 by APTA study found that the number of poor and/or Latinx and Black riders had dropped to 60% with Black still being the large group of riders at 24%.

The 2001 study spoke at length of the inequities of transit for non-white people who do not work downtown and live downtown and so did the Reconsidering Social Equity in Public Transit (more…)

Dr. Ezike is an engineer, community servant, and researcher, he employs his expertise to engage the community on issues related to the protection of the environment, transportation equity, and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) advocacy. He is currently a New Mobility and Equity Fellow at Union of Concerned Scientists, where he is conducting research and engaging community groups on the potential impacts of autonomous vehicles on equitable transportation and the environment. Previously he was at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) in the Center for Policy Analysis and Research, where he researched impacts of infrastructure and transportation on African-American communities. Dr. Ezike holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and a B.S. in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University.

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Keith Benjamin, by nomination from Mayor John Tecklenburg, and the unanimous vote by City Council was appointed to the position of Director of the Department of Traffic and Transportation for the city of Charleston, South Carolina in April of 2017. In his position he oversees all transportation maintenance, planning and partnerships at the local, county and state level. He previously served in the Office of Policy Development, Strategic Planning and Performance as well as led the Office of Public Liaison at the US Department of Transportation.

Prior to his Federal service, Keith was Community Partnership Manager for the Voices for Healthy Kids Community Consortium with the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. In this role, he was responsible for the recruiting and developing of public and private partners that were dedicated to creating healthy accessible and safe communities across the nation. At the national, regional and local level, Keith provided technical assistance to policy campaigns in underserved communities, built coalitions, increased leadership capacity, engaged elected officials, created advocacy resources and led The Nation Active Transportation Diversity Task Force.

Keith has also previously represented the Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO advocating on behalf of 200,000 members and retirees and also served on Capitol Hill with Senator Carl Levin, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, the Committee on House Administration, Representative Kendrick Meek, and the late Representative Donald Payne.

He has served as a member of the National League of Cities Advisory Panel on Health Disparities, the Better Bike Share Partnership Equity Panel, the National Working Group on Healthy Food access with the Food Trust and the National Urban League and the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board, Citizens Advisory Committee. He has appeared and written for the American Journal of Health Promotion, Prevention Institute, Institute of Transportation Engineers, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The American Planning Association, The Washington Post, The Root, Streetsblog, Urban Cusp, Huffington Post, and Black Enterprise.

Keith Benjamin is a graduate and Deans awardee of Swarthmore College and comes to Charleston with his wife Tiffany Nicole and son Kingsley Randall.