Ayesha McGowan, also known as A Quick Brown Fox, is the first mainstream African-American female pro cyclist. And she’s racing for more than just podium spots…it’s about #RepresentationMatters. As the saying goes, just showing up is half the battle, but in her case, being present means having a presence that other people of color can relate to. She lets them envision themselves on the starting line, in the peloton, and, occasionally, on the podium.

In this episode, we talk about why representation, diversity and inclusion matters. Not just in cycling, but of course that’s our focus. It’s a great conversation, and an important one that we hope you’ll listen to all the way through…and then share it with as many friends and cyclists as you can.

You can check out more of Ayesha’s videos and podcast, and support her racing via Patreon, from her website. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or check her blog here.

If you’re looking for a broader context (and some wildly different attitudes) on awareness, diversity, inclusion, gender and more, she recommends following Ellen Noble, Amanda Batty, and The Brown Bike Girl.

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  1. Zack on

    Why is this important? Honest question.

    The bike doesn’t care the color of your skin. Your fellow riders don’t care the color of your skin. I work as a mechanic, and I’ll go ahead and speak for all of us and tell you that your mechanic doesn’t care the color of your skin.

    In the description of the podcast, Mr. Benedict notes that the podcast considers “why representation, diversity and inclusion matters”, but I didn’t hear that conversation. “Inclusion” is an umbrella for representation and diversity – so long as nobody is excluded, everybody is included? Right? I’m trying to understand. What can I do to get more dark-skinned riders in the shop, that won’t exclude lighter-skinned riders? Is there a special need darker-skinned riders have that I need to cater towards? Do their bikes require a special tool?

    Help me to understand.

  2. CarlB on

    Zack, Representation is important because if you see someone that looks like you doing something you’re interested in you automatically have a role model for that activity. Being inclusive to one group does not mean it has to be at the expense of the other group.

    • Zack on

      If sharing skin tone with somebody “automatically” makes them a role model for a person, then that individual is gross. Role models should be venerated for their accomplishments, not for their appearance. It’s absolutely the least important, most uninteresting thing about a person. Then, there’s the chicken/egg type of scenario – who was Mrs. McGowan’s role model? Jackie Robinson’s role model wasn’t a black MLB player. Charlie Sifford’s pure talent and love of golf brought him to the PGA, not the nonexistent black golfers in the PGA at the time. (Not to mention, how fortunate we are as a species that there aren’t more people that look like me. Our planet doesn’t need any more big, awkward potato men with poor vision and wicked seasonal allergies.)

      And I’ve been made wary of terms like “inclusive”. A local non-profit shop is hosting a couple of nights a month exclusively for women/trans/femme shop time. Never, ever would I kick any person out of my shop for their genitals or gender identity. It gives me the willies.

      Morgan Freeman already figured this out in his interview with Mike Wallace (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeixtYS-P3s).

      “I’m gonna stop calling you a white man. And I’m gonna ask you to stop calling me a black man.”

      It’s perfect. If you like your bike, ride your bike. Be brave. Take up your individual responsibility. Stop worrying about others. Transcend your skin color. Follow your passion.

      Maybe that’s just my take.

      • CarlB on

        Your take is valid if this country wasn’t so divided on racial lines.

        Jackie Robinson had the Negro League to look to for role models.

        There’s nothing “gross” about seeing someone who looks like you doing something cool and wanting to be a part of it. We don’t often examine our reasons for looking up to people, especially when we’re young. Appearance is the FIRST thing we notice about people and like it or not we all make assumptions based on this.

        Having a conversation about including cyclists of color in this industry (and race in general) is something we need. Saying “I don’t see color” is basically putting your head in the sand.

        And, maybe the Women/Trans/Femme group doesn’t feel comfortable in the other shops in town. I don’t know because I’m also a potato shaped white guy, and I look like all the other people who go to my local shop.

      • Pynchonite on

        I usually think in terms of who’s getting sold bikes, so here’s my reply.

        Almost all advertisement works on the principle of identification: if you can get the viewer/reader to identify with the person in the ad, then half the work is done. Advertisers create this identification in all sorts of ways depending on who they want to pay attention to the ad. The lowest hanging fruit, identification-wise, is appearance. Appearance includes an audience and passively tells another audience that they don’t need to pay as much attention.

        White men have been the audience for so long that it seems like ads featuring white guys (the enormous majority of ads for bikes) are neutral, that they’re the blank slate, rather than a conscious decision on the part of marketing companies to target their products to white guys of a certain class. Changing representation everywhere increases the likelihood that companies will pay attention to a market, market to that market, and bring more riders who identify with their messages into the market. More riders the better.

        Morgan Freeman is just straight-up wrong in this case.

  3. Josh on

    The focus should always be on humanizing cyclists to as fellow citizens so less children and adults die in the streets… all the superfluous stuff like this can wait

  4. Evan on

    She’s a pro? Her website still says “I have the goal of becoming the first African-American female pro road cyclist, ever.” I looked up her results and she’s a cat 2 with few to no notable results *against amateurs*. Why is she turning this into a racial issue?

  5. Bryin on

    Accomplish should stand on it’s own merit. It does not matter what race a winner is… it is only important that they won. The first man of color to win the TdF will be a great bike racer because he won the TdF. He will be no better or no worse than the other men that won.

    Morgan Freeman is 100% correct. The ONLY way to overcome racism is to stop talking about race.

  6. James on

    I’ll be blunt, Zack. Stop speaking for everyone. You are simply not qualified. I’m black, and you better believe some people see a black man before they see a bike racer, and would rather I didn’t show up at certain races. That may not be you, but I invite you to have a more realistic view of what’s actually going on.

    I’ve been snubbed at bike shops. I had a shop owner refuse to take an S-Works off the ceiling before asking me “Are you sure you can afford it?” Just for kicks, I sent my wife (she’s white) to the same shop. Same owner, same bike. He made a point to note that “your husband will love this ride.”

    Like I said, it may not be you. Because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

    Representation does matter.


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