You’ve read that bumper sticker before, I know you have. ‘Start Seeing Motorcycles’. It’s become a cultural mainstay, something that is joked about sometimes, something that is often discussed in serious tones about how important it is to be visually vigilant, and something that is just … normal.
It’s normal for us to care about blind spots and smaller vehicles and those who are less protected. Motorcycles are often louder than cars, but are significantly less protected, and less visible, and therefore are more at risk than cars (or trucks, etc).
So we throw on a bumper sticker and try to raise awareness of a vehicle that is totally legal and enjoyable and enjoyed by many, to try to stem the tide of accidents that are associated with it.
Per each mile traveled, a motorcycle driver is 35 times more likely to end up in a fatal crash than the driver of an automobile.
That statistic blows my mind. That means that your chance of an accident in a car is the same as a motorcycle, but only after you’ve driven 35 miles to their one. That’s, frankly, insane. But it makes sense when you think about it, I suppose.
They have less protection, less safety features, and are less visible. They aren’t always driven safely (absolutely a factor) but even when driven safely, they fit into blind spots, are easy to miss, and when hit, do not offer anywhere near the survivability of a car.
Motorcycles account for only two percent of all registered vehicles on the road, yet motorcycle accidents account for five percent of all highway fatalities.
That’s another one that kind of blows my mind. Out of every 20 accidents, one of them will be a motorcycle. But, out of every registered 50 vehicles, only one will be a motorcycle. Wow.
And here’s another thing to remember: These statistics are gathered based on a full 12 months of time, meaning those numbers (which include months where motorcycles are not prominently driven) are actually probably even worse.
And with all of that in mind, that means that 19 of those 20 accidents are cars or trucks or vans or whatever. With every mile traveled, a motorcycle will have a 35 times higher chance of a fatal accident, but that doesn’t mean all fatal accidents are motorcycles. Many are cars, trucks, vans, etc.
But I can tell you with 100% certainty that in all of the time I have spent in any discussion related to this exact topic, those bumper stickers, statistics about motorcycle safety and awareness, all of that … I’ve never seen/heard a single person say “We really need bumper stickers to say ‘Start Seeing Cars’ or ‘Start Seeing Trucks’ or ‘Start Seeing All Motor Vehicles'”.
Because that’s kind of dumb, right? We’re already looking for those things. It’s innate, it’s instructed, it’s simple and obvious, to look for the things that are the same as us on the road, to find the bigger objects and afford them the same opportunities to arrive safely and without incident as us. We’re in a car, so we’re very focused on making sure other similarly sized vehicles are a safe distance away, etc.
I imagine, if I was on a motorcycle, I’d be aware of all of that too. But probably also much more aware of all of the other motorcycles on the road. But those two concepts are easy to smile about or even to nod in agreement about. We know to be safe on the road and we know that being safe means being careful around other vehicles. Yet somehow that seems to not always include motorcycles. Higher accident rate. Higher fatal accident rate. Despite being significantly under-represented on the road, and only for a few months of the year, the numbers make it super clear why we see ‘Start Seeing Motorcycles’ and not ‘Start Seeing All Motor Vehicles’.
It’s the motor cycles that aren’t being seen, consistently, and in rising numbers. Not the other cars.
Where am I going with this?
Controversy time. Let’s talk Black Lives Matter.
Hopefully the above (assuming you didn’t already see through my analogy) helps you to have context for my opinion on why ‘All Lives Matter’ is similar to ‘Start Seeing All Motor Vehicles’.
Let’s give you some data to help with context. As of 2016 (using the Census Bureau’s data, for persons reporting only one race):
- 76.9% of the population considers themselves White
- 17.8% of the population considers themselves Hispanic/Latino
- 13.3% of the population considers themselves Black/African American
- 5.7% of the population considers themselves Asian
- 1.3% of the population considers themselves American Indian/Alaskan Native
It’s pretty interesting to me that less than 1/4 of those who completed the 2016 Census, reporting only one race, considered themselves not-White. That’s rather staggering when it comes to population diversity and density.
So already I’m sure you can see that there’s a correlation. Not a tough one to draw either. But instead of focusing on all races (which ‘All Lives Matter’ would say we should), we’ll just focus on motorcycles. I mean Black Lives.
Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012 by George Zimmerman. That is fact. The verdict was that he was acquitted, meaning he was not ‘punished’ (outside of societal recourse) for those actions. This isn’t a post about whether or not he should have been punished. This is about how Alicia Garza, a political activist, wrote an impassioned plea for society to see — following this verdict — that Black Lives Matter. Another activist, Patrisse Cullors, added a hashtag to those three words, and history (like it or not) was made.
According to the people (Garza and Cullors, as well as some other prominent members of the civil rights group) who are championing this cause, this cause exists for the following reason:
” – to deal with anti-black racism, to “push for black people’s right to live with dignity and respect” and be included in the American democracy that they helped create.”
They want to be equal, be given dignity, respect, and be included in the democracy that they helped create. That seems totally reasonable to me.
I won’t digress into a long history lesson on how black people helped build America. Or how they helped it grow. Or how their inventions, contributions, and ideals, as well as just plain old hard work (soft way of referring to slavery) is a big reason America is what it is today.
Don’t get me wrong either. I’m not saying that you as a white person should fall into despair about the wrongs your ancestors may have committed on black people. Those things weren’t right, but they weren’t decisions you made. But your decisions today, those are your responsibility.
And the reason it should matter is simple. The United States of America is a highway that all races, all genders, all people, should be allowed to freely navigate (within the bounds of the law) with no bias or prejudice or ignorance or assigned narrative based simply and solely on color or race. I mean, it’s 2017.
The abolishment of slavery was ratified in 1865, 152 years ago, yet we’re still having this discussion. And that’s completely embarrassing.
We’re still having discussions about whether or not we should pay any specific attention to a chunk of our population that has seen the sore end of many many situations for over 150 years, despite the country assuring them (again, over 150 years ago) that they were totally and completely equals.
Despite the fact (based on census data, etc), that for decades, Blacks have been dying at a significantly higher rate per year than Whites, especially among the elderly, likely due to things like a variety of diseases, including AIDS and tobacco-related illnesses. Additionally, decreases in other leading causes of death were observed, such as heart disease, cancer and stroke.
So, as socioeconomic status improves, as health care and opportunity improve, and as civil status and liberties equalize, you’re seeing death rates equalize. That shouldn’t be shocking, but somehow it seems like it is amongst those who think everything is okay as it is. Despite the fact that many younger (20’s, 30’s, 40’s) Black people are living with chronic illnesses and diseases not observed until much older, and face a significant disparity with White people in living conditions (violent neighborhoods, racism, etc).
It’s just rather amazing to me that when we see constant reminders that equality is not there, (death rates, racist crime, living conditions, lesser social and economic opportunities, etc) that we still think that equality exists. And more importantly, that we shouldn’t focus on fixing a constant mar on our country’s mantra of ‘Liberty and Equality for All‘.
the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.
All Genders Matter!
Don’t just focus on addressing the disparity in paychecks between women and men doing the same job with the same qualifications! Don’t just focus on how the world treats a woman with authority and a man with authority entirely different! Don’t just focus on how little women are represented in important roles in government, Hollywood, executive boards, and the tech industry! Men matter too!
I mean, it’s literally the same argument. And if I were a gambling man, I would bet with confidence, anytime you see someone having an issue with feminism, they’re a man, just like anyone having an issue with Black Lives Matter, they’re a white person.
Because in the end, we all want to matter. But we’re listening to the wrong voices. The voices telling us everything is alright are the voices of people who are living with in a situation that is already alright. They are seeing a society that views them for the color they are and accepts it as being ‘okay’, they are seeing themselves represented in cinema, in government, and in all other areas of society, and think that everyone should just cool it for a minute because it’s all going just fine. Because they are fine.
‘Do what you want and let me do what I want and everything will be fine.’
As a white person, that seems totally cool to say, but a black person saying that will be given critique and probably be required to explain first what they want to do. It might be illegal, right?
Let’s go a different route. If I were in the same room as Peyton Manning, talking with you about football, my assumption is that you’d want to hear from Peyton more than me. Not because my opinion is irrelevant, or unimportant, or even ‘not okay’, but because Peyton is an expert on the topic in a first-person kind of way. That’s why it’s ridiculous to have men making policies governing women, and white people making statements about the quality of life for black people.
If you’re still reading, hopefully you’re getting the noise that I’m trying to beat out of this drum. Black Lives Matter is not about making Black people superior.
It’s about making them equal.
Especially in the courts and justice system, but in other areas of life too. Because the data clearly, specifically, and completely says resoundingly that they are not equal. And that’s a travesty. It’s abhorrent. It’s unconstitutional. It’s un-American. It’s un-biblical.
It’s simply not how you treat other humans.
Start Seeing Motorcycles. Black Lives Matter. Feminism Seeks Equality For All.
It’s all the same song. Everyone deserves a fair shake in this world, and we’re (read: everyone, but especially, consistently, white males) not doing a great job at giving it.
So let’s make today the first day of change. Let’s make this month a month of progress. Let’s move towards a time when we don’t need to just celebrate Black History in February, but can confidently say we celebrate it all the time. Just like celebrating Women’s Rights and equality every day, not just when convenient.
And let’s learn to share the road with everyone, not just the people in vehicles like us.