Rolling a tread between People and Permaculture

My Uncle Asked If I Would Be Cycling With a Gun


By Jasmine Wilborne

And I said I would look into it.

Why? Because I’m a black girl riding through a post-slavery post-Jim Crow country  with a white dude.

And to be honest, I would really like to skip the deep south completely. My uncle drove across the country with his fiancé and when he stayed over in a hotel in Alabama, he had the black staff telling him that it would be wise if he didn’t leave to go anywhere at night. That it would be safer if he stayed inside.

That’s why.

I want to believe that upper-middle class black chicks who speak perfect English, don’t “act black”* and grow up in two family homes won’t be victims of racist-sexist violence. (* This is a derogatory statement that I included to make a point. Saying someone is “acting black” is derogatory because it implies that the actions of the person are low-class, unfavorable and embarrassing.)

But my uncle doesn’t seem to think so.

And he is right.

Here’s a question for you: How many black girls have had week long evening news coverage after they have disappeared?

I can’t think of a single one.

In fact, I used to use the absence of  TV campaigns about kidnapped brown girls as a sign of my immunity.

I used to think that I could go unscathed, that I wasn’t “wanted” as much as white girls. That I was graced with the ability to go anywhere I pleased without worrying about danger.

In fact the opposite is true; black girls go missing and kidnapped as much as white girls.

But no one cares.

My parents have already said to me,  “If you go missing there won’t be any helicopters, there won’t be any squat teams combing the world for you, there won’t be any evening news.”

“There will be us and that’s it.” So here’s a question:

Do I carry a gun and hope I don’t have to use it?

Or do I continue to wish that I am somehow above the sick bloody racism that is murdering kids just like me?

You’d think a bicycle trip focused on connecting the dots between sustainability, permaculture, eco-villages and community would be nearly carefree. That I would only have to worry about where I will buy my tour bike or which eco-village I HAVE to see. And I do.

But when you are a black chick in a post-slavery, but institutionally racist and unjust country, you can’t only worry about what’s going into your panniers.

I have to worry about being a target for racist sometimes lethal violence.

Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe we will only meet good Samaritans. Maybe I won’t need to worry about being a victim of sexual assault AND racial violence.



Author: zestyjazz

I'm a garden and a bicycle.

9 thoughts on “My Uncle Asked If I Would Be Cycling With a Gun

  1. Jasmine,
    Shannon just forwarded your blog to me and I am going to use this article today in class! This is a truly remarkable portrait of the reality you face on your trip as well as the courage and openness you possess. Super inspiring, hope to see you before you go!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow. Thank you so much TW. Feel free to subscribe 🙂 I go through phases where I freak out and then Seth is like….Jas, you AREN’T doing this alone. I am so grateful to have an awesome partner in crime who is totally sensitive and aware to racial, class and gender (etc) challenges. I will definitely be by CG! In the early spring, Seth and I want to do speaking informational gigs to help rouse hope, support and bring awareness! Hope CG can be our first stop. Much love. -Jas


  2. I am highly opposed to the idea of a gun. For several reasons but especially since accidents can happen but also because gun laws change from state to state and it would suck to run into the wrong side of the law with a gun on your person. I’d say a taster would be equally as effective.


    • I agree! I feel like carrying a gun would be more dangerous to me than not. I mean….it makes sense: be able to protect yourself…but what would happen to me psychologically if I really did shoot someone (very extreme) but come on! I don’t think that a gun is the best way to stay protected. In fact, in my opinion make simple situations escalate.


  3. Haha I meant a TASER, not taster.


  4. If you intend to carry a gun, be sure you know how to use it VERY well. Otherwise it could be more of a danger to you. The laws do change like crazy for everything state to state. I have heard that wasp spray is really good for protection. It sprays far and burns the eyes. Sounds good to me!


    • I don’t believe that I will carry a gun in reality. In essence, the fact that my family would even SUGGEST such a thing brings to light the specific challenges and dangers of being a black chick in America. I was pretty scared when my uncle suggested the gun. It made me feel like our plans could be jeopardized by hatred. But in reality think it will be a great learning experience for both of us and the country! I appreciate your comments 🙂


  5. Despite all this, I still hope you and your partner enjoys the bike trip. Being here in Canada, it is entirely foreign idea for a cyclist to carry a gun.

    Yet… partner’s business partner was shot…across the street from his bike shop, in downtown Vancouver. And it was another cyclist that shot him (a disgruntled ex-employee) and the cyclist tried to flee by bike..along a well-used bike path. The police caught him.

    Guy nearly lost his lung..and is slowly recovering. Both victim and shooter are white.

    I agree that being non-white, the amount of media attention is far less when the person disappears, murdered, etc. It is true in Canada also…a good example would be aboriginal men and women (that’s our term for native Indians), etc.

    I think the more disturbing part ensuring a car driver does not deliberately corner /cut you off or is texting while driving.

    Here in Canada, we don’t hear much about news in Alabama.


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