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Why Don't We See More Pictures Like This?

Why don't we see more pictures like this in cycling? Can anyone tell me?

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There are a tremendous amount of great black athletes worldwide. In the USA they are the prominent ethnic group in many sports. And there are plenty of people from African heritage living in France, and Europe. Bicycling magazine did an article on some Kenyan athletes who were runners that got into cycling, and put up some impressive times climbing Alpe d'Huez - but mostly as a test.

But despite all that, most people who see a photo like this (and don't know who Rahsaan Bahati is) would take pause at seeing such a photo - because it is such an uncommon sight in our sport.

Why?
 
Simply - talanted black athletes are playing other sports...historically it has a lot to do with the cultural origins of the sport ... and laterly its all about roll models - there are hardly any to speak of. So we will start to see more when we start to see more (not a very helpful answer!)

Hopefully we won't get a load of tosh responses about muscle mass, bone density, mental toughness and other rascist bull.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Cycling just doesn't have the gangster element that football and basketball has in the US, and our sport is marketed to white 30 somethings with money. The majority of gifted black athletes come from very meager means growing up, and couldn't fathom spending more than it costs to buy a ball to play with on a court or field, let alone a race bike.

180mmCrank is right on with the comment:
historically it has a lot to do with the cultural origins of the sport

Cycling is a European sport, and what I'm going to say next might offend some people, but what the hey, I'm as European as it gets aside from living there. Europeans are some of the most racist and prejudiced people I've ever met, and it's not just with people of strictly African decent, it's every hue of not white, and Jews. I've been traveling to Europe for my whole life as I still have family there, tons of friends, and now my job takes me there twice a year for the last seven years. Some of the nicest people I've met in Europe have really disappointed me after really getting to know them, and some are in the bike industry, amazingly.
 
But it can't entirely be cost. We go hiking all the time, and I think in the entire 40 years I've been going, I've seen maybe 20 black people on the trails.

As to cultural, for decades major sports were filled with white only athletes. I'd like to think Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis, Bobby Marshall, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan broke down more barriers than in just their sports. And now in the US we have a black President who by all accounts is quite popular. But it's odd that cycling seems to be impossible to breakthrough. I mean, we're looking at .0001% of all pro cyclists being black. I can think of one guy. One guy! It's strange.

I bring this up because I think it's somewhat sad that we don't seem to be more welcoming perhaps. As if simply being a global sport, and "European" is enough?

Same goes for skiing too, really, especially Nordic skiing. You don't see a lot of black swimmers or divers either. Or mountaineers or rock climbers.
 
Mar 11, 2009
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RDV4ROUBAIX said:
Marshall "Major" Taylor broke some barriers, not at the level of Jakie Robinson, but very important none the less.
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Hmmmm...you may want to read Major...a recent biography of Taylor. It may change your mind re: the barriers he broke down during his time. In many ways, he paved the way for Robinson.
 
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Rahsaan is a class act, cycling needs more people like him. He works with underpriviledged children and teaches them about cycling and life. I ride with him and Justin Williams quite often, good people. Cycling would be better off with more people like him. He is darn FAST too.

Major Taylor was breaking barriers LONG before Jackie Robinson. (not to take anything away from what Jackie did)
Rahsaan and Justin used to ride for Major Motion cycling team (mainly a junior development squad) of which Major Taylor is the namesake if I am not mistaken.
 
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Power13 said:
Hmmmm...you may want to read Major...a recent biography of Taylor. It may change your mind re: the barriers he broke down during his time. In many ways, he paved the way for Robinson.


I don't think my mind needs to be changed, but I will read the book. Ask any black athlete about who paved the way for them, and I bet you not a one will say Major Taylor.
 
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Power13 said:
Hmmmm...you may want to read Major...a recent biography of Taylor. It may change your mind re: the barriers he broke down during his time. In many ways, he paved the way for Robinson.


I don't think my mind needs to be changed, but I will read the book. Ask any black athlete about who paved the way for them, and I bet you not a one will say Major Taylor. Chronologically, yes was one of the first ever, but in a dead sport. Baseball took over as Americas pastime before Taylor made his mark.
 
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Power13 said:
Hmmmm...you may want to read Major...a recent biography of Taylor. It may change your mind re: the barriers he broke down during his time. In many ways, he paved the way for Robinson.


I don't think my mind needs to be changed, but I will read the book. Ask any black athlete about who paved the way for them, and I bet you not a one will say Major Taylor. Chronologically yes, he was one of the first ever, but in a dead sport. Baseball took over as America's pastime before Taylor made his mark.
 
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I just realized alot of you probably don't know Justin Williams. He is the U23 National Crit Champion.

Rahsaan has been a mentor to this young man. Classy guys, both of them, and did I mention they are FAST.:D

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Justin winning the sprint for the U23 championship. (note the Time rider Eric Barlevav, winner of the Harlem Crit last year)

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Podium after winning.

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Sharing the podium with Rahsaan at Merco cycling classic.
 
Alpe d'Huez said:
I mean, we're looking at .0001% of all pro cyclists being black. I can think of one guy. One guy! It's strange.
I think you might be underestimating the numbers. I'm sure there are black pros we aren't aware of, but you're right there sure aren't many. Bouygues Telecom has a black rider, Yohann Gene from Guadeloupe. He actually won a stage of Langkawi this year.

There are some West African countries where cycling is pretty big. Burkina Faso, for instance. Seems like I often see Black Euro track cyclists, but rarely on the road.

But honestly, I can only really speak for the US. The gangster element thing is a little silly, btw, RDV. Frankly, not many kids period, are into cycling. Wearing tight lycra and riding a road bike is not generally seen as cool whether you are black or white. But, I have to agree with others here, that it's mostly a cultural thing. Most kids get into it because a parent rides.

I'm convinced you'll see another black rider come up from the US before too long, though. Perhaps through the same Major Motion junior program that Rashaan came through. They usually have a few young black riders on their junior team. Ridden with him quite a few times myself - he's a cool guy.
 
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There have been a few black guys in track cycling in the past few years, I don't know their names as I don't follow it in quite the same way as road but I think mainly riding for France. And Bicycling mag had an African American track cyclist on the cover a few years back. Never seen a black woman in cycling though.

I read a little about the getting African's into cycling article and vaguely remember it being a lot about the cost of equipment and road quality. A runner simply runs they don't even need sneakers when it comes down to it, but a cyclist needs somewhere to ride and a bike. And then there's the whole otherside of cycling equipment, such as trying to get new parts and even patch kits.
 
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jaylew said:
But honestly, I can only really speak for the US. The gangster element thing is a little silly, btw, RDV.

No it isn't. When is the last time you went to a gangster rap show? When is the last time you spectated a football or basketball game in person? The marketing and cultural i.d. of these three things walk hand in hand. That's a fact.
 
tashimi76 said:
I read a little about the getting African's into cycling article and vaguely remember it being a lot about the cost of equipment and road quality. A runner simply runs they don't even need sneakers when it comes down to it, but a cyclist needs somewhere to ride and a bike. And then there's the whole otherside of cycling equipment, such as trying to get new parts and even patch kits.

Ok this thread is in danger of going horribly wrong...not to be a PC w@nker but lets just keep perspective - not all black people are from Africa and neither are they all short of the money to buy a bike.

Issues about developing sport in developing or third World nations are a little different from why there is a lack of diversity in the sport of cycling. (OK so i am being a bit of a PC w@nker :rolleyes:)
 
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180mmCrank said:
Ok this thread is in danger of going horribly wrong...not to be a PC w@nker but lets just keep perspective - not all black people are from Africa and neither are they all short of the money to buy a bike.

Issues about developing sport in developing or third World nations are a little different from why there is a lack of diversity in the sport of cycling. (OK so i am being a bit of a PC w@nker :rolleyes:)

Nobody suggested that all blacks are from Africa, your entirely misinterpreting something. They are not all short of money to buy a bike, correct. But do they have the money, and/or resources that most of us had to start racing? Not even close.

I believe tashimi76's comment on Africans was in regard to the Continent. On a side note, the real De Vlaeminck is deeply involved in Allez Allez Zimbabwe. African Cyclocross team.
 
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Thanks RDV yes that's what I was referring to in response to what someone else had said regarding the article about transferring African athletes. Also there are plenty of people in rich countries that might have similar issues.

Seriously someone pointed out in the Lance going to Gila topic that one of the UCI's goals is to increase cycling on a worldwide basis. To ignore third world nations in this topic isn't right. We need to see more people of all races riding not just black people. It's been great seeing riders from Japan and China and other nations getting into Pro Tour teams lately. There are plenty of people riding bikes in the world in general, therefore it's surprising there aren't more nationalities represented.
 
Fair comment nobody did say that all blacks are from Africa - this for me was more about not going off on a tangent - I like you am all for creating opportunities for folk to ride bikes - especially where there are fewer opportunties in general to do this.

But I think we are talking more about diversity in general. Why different folk take up different sports? Why would a black high school kid play basketball or soccer rather than take up road racing.

The latter comments seem to be more about sport and opportunity in developing nations. Which I am sure we would all support.

All I am saying is I think these are different things. Genuinely not trying to have a go at anybody here. I hope this makes sense - please let me know if it doesn't!
 
RDV4ROUBAIX said:
No it isn't.
Yes, it is.
RDV4ROUBAIX said:
When is the last time you went to a gangster rap show?
Ice Cube in September, where he performed among other tunes the sarcastic "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It"
RDV4ROUBAIX said:
When is the last time you spectated a football or basketball game in person?
About 10 times in the past year. 95% whites in the crowd.
RDV4ROUBAIX said:
The marketing and cultural i.d. of these three things walk hand in hand. That's a fact.

What exactly does gangster rap have to do with black cyclists? Trust me there are many, many, many, many black kids(and athletes) that go through the US school system who don't act "gangsta" or get into sports because they have a gangsta element. Trust me, I know - I'm one of them and I know many others.
 
Actually, I think this thread is going very well.

Good call Oldguy on Justin Williams. I had heard of him, and read about him winning the crit. I probably just assumed he was another white guy from the midwest without looking. :eek:

Thanks Jaylew for Yohann Geen. Cool.

Was Jack Johnson (boxer, not singer) around before Major Taylor? He certainly was much more well known, by far. But he was also very unpopular both in his sport, and as a person. The opposite of Jackie Robinson or Joe Louis.

Greg Lemond speaks in this link about getting kids into cycling in schools. Start watching about 2:25.
 
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I'll give a very nice personal example of uplifting a very gifted young cyclist. It's not about race, but it could have very well been.

Myself and some other racers used to volunteer at our local velodrome, and this kid showed up that came from literally nothing, and lived in a trailer park. His only thing of value was a playstation video game console. He sold it to fund his lessons on the track. After completing the course, local bike messengers caught wind of his story and they all pitched in for a track bike so he didn't have to rent.

Cool story, I know it's not about race, but adversity affects us all no matter where we come from, or what color we are.

Volunteering is the best feeling in the world. Especially when is something that I've devoted my life to like cycling. Awesome experience.
 
RDV4ROUBAIX said:
I'll give a very nice personal example of uplifting a very gifted young cyclist. It's not about race, but it could have very well been.

Myself and some other racers used to volunteer at our local velodrome, and this kid showed up that came from literally nothing, and lived in a trailer park. His only thing of value was a playstation video game console. He sold it to fund his lessons on the track. After completing the course, local bike messengers caught wind of his story and they all pitched in for a track bike so he didn't have to rent.

Cool story, I know it's not about race, but adversity affects us all no matter where we come from, or what color we are.

Volunteering is the best feeling in the world. Especially when is something that I've devoted my life to like cycling. Awesome experience.

Sold his Playstation for track lessons? That's cool!