Beige on the Oregon Trail

from 5/1/15IMG_3547

In the course I registered for, there are 3 other scholarship winners out of 5 women in the 16 person class.  Most everyone has a different idea they intend to use the knowledge for. Frame building, low income cycling advocacy, family cycling advocacy, mechanic, adapted bicycles for veterans and more.

There is a good balance of theory, history, lecture and lab. The instructors are really helpful and the class is pretty fun. While attending some of the winners got to stay at The Cycle Hostel. 6 other people from the class are at the hostel in various rooming situations as well. It’s a pretty fast paced learning environment but there are plenty of opportunities to get some one on one time when in question of any aspect of the program.

Students are from all over the country: San Francisco via Spain, South Korea, California via England, Colorado, Utah, Arkansas, Ohio and Idaho. The campus is in Ashland, Oregon. Unfortunately this is not Oakland and I have heard lots of causal racism from some students. This article segment comes to mind for my personal experience in Oregon:

Today, while 13 percent of Americans are black, just 2 percent of Oregon’s population is black. This is not some accident of history. It’s a product of oppressive laws and everyday actions that deliberately excluded non-white people from a fair shot at living a life without additional obstacles being put in their way.

Life’s hard enough as it is. But life as a person of color in Oregon would prove to be like trying to play Oregon Trail in a roomful of Klansmen while the computer lab is on fire.

Oregon Was Founded As A White Racist Utopia – Matt Novak1

Now obviously it’s not that bad today. People are pretty friendly to your face or gawk and stair at a distance. Being a QPOC, tattooed woman is certainly not a common sight. Although I did see another light skinned black, tattooed, woman in the Safeway. But we didn’t talk and share notes.

There is no graduation. Only a test that is pass/fail. All results will be mailed after the class so it will be some time until they are received. The knowledge the class offers is very thorough, if not semi-regional and within the most modern portions of the industry. The class is engaging and with enough hands on time to fulfill the absence of working in the shop. I will definitely come back with more skill than when I got here.

1http://gizmodo.com/oregon-was-founded-as-a-racist-utopia-1539567040

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