talkgroup

The perception of majority

I saw a message sent to an org asking why cyclists expect to be respected when some cyclists linger in the middle of intersections or ride three abreast up hills, and a bunch of other behaviour the person thought inappropriate.

I have two filters I read such messages through, the first is the "right to road use". Cyclists in California are allowed the full use of the lane. One may disagree with that, but it means that if your complaint is that a cyclist is using the road, that point is invalid. I happen to think you are incorrect, as well, since we should encourage more non-motorist usage of the roads; it makes for a better world, as measured by a whole bunch of metrics that matter more than how quickly you can get to your destination.

The second filter is "power dynamics", meaning how does the criticized behaviour challenge the status quo, and why is this person becoming defensive. Privilege comes into play here, and while motorist are probably the least egregious in systemic bias among the causes I am support, they probably induce the highest mortality rate. Misogyny can continually victimize a women in an abusive relationship, and racism contributes to the conditions that bring about state-sponsored and domestic violence in communities of color. Motorists habitually kill cyclists, and the systemic response is victim-blaming.

I saw Anita Hill on The Daily Show, and subsequently read up on her conflict as part of the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Her stand had ripple effects in politics and everyday perception, and during a clip from the upcoming documentary, she says, "People misunderstand that the harassment is about the sex, it's really about control and power, and abusing it." That sentiment is important, because people misunderstand what systemic bias is, and are distracted by the overt symptoms that happen in isolation.