I’m a white, straight male, living in America. I’ve never had to think about racism in the way that it effects me, just in the way that it affects others. I’ve never had to feel that fear that people who are not white have to feel. While I can and will empathize with those who have felt the effects of racism, I can never know it first hand.

I realize I am privileged.

I explore many different obscure and weird crevasses around Portland. Dead end streets, paths between houses, streets marked off as “Private Road” by adjacent landowners (which are illegal since these are public rights-of-ways). I just venture into these areas, as I know it is my right to roam in public spaces and rights-of-way. I’m not doing anything illegal. But what if instead of me, it was a black man? Would there be a phone call to 911 about a “strange man” wandering where he “shouldn’t be?”

I don’t see as many faces of color when it comes to bike camping and touring, or hiking. I have heard that people of color who participate in outdoor activities are sometimes made to feel unwelcome, that they don’t “belong” there. Not everything is overt, nor does it have to be.

I’ve had encounters with police. Some are unpleasant, many just benign. Not once had I ever felt like my life was in danger, that I could be dead if I did/said the wrong thing.

I’m taking a pause from the blog for the next week. We need to hear other voices, ones that aren’t straight white males. I need to work on things. I can’t just think “not being racist” is good enough, or just hating racism is adequate. Even though I don’t like it, I know I benefit from the machine of white supremacy. I don’t know, or even pretend to know, all the answers. So I need to listen and let others speak. I need to change and I need to help.

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