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Bikes, Breath + Environmental Justice ride celebrated the African diaspora in the Americas

The ride concluded at La Crucifixión de Don Pedro Mural Garden. Photo: Aasia Mohammad Castañeda

Last Saturday, several Chicago-based social justice groups teamed up with the transportation equity organization Equiticity to host a ride entitled Bikes, Breath + Environmental Justice: Celebrating the African Diaspora in the Americas on Two Wheels. Co-hosting groups included Black Brown + Breathing, Music Moves Chicago (a program of the Old Town School of Folk music), Paseo Boricua Tour Company, Environmentalists of Color, The Honeycomb Network, and Organic Oneness.

The ride webpage explained that the purpose of the Near West Side ride was to "Celebrate on two wheels the culture of the African diaspora in the Americas. Through a profound historical journey, explore spirit, dance, and the drum and their inextricable connection in the fight for survival, freedom, and prosperity of Afro LatinX people across two continents." The event started at the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center in Humboldt Park, and began with meditation and intention-setting, led by Black Brown + Breathing.

Taylor Dominique Mason from Black Brown + Breathing leads a meditation at
Taylor Dominique Mason from Black Brown + Breathing leads a meditation at the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center. Photo: Mia Park
Taylor Dominique Mason from Black Brown + Breathing leads a meditation at

Aasia Mohammad Castañeda from partnering organizations de colores + cultura and Environmentalists of Color said that these groups volunteer to produce this event for the love of bringing people together. She said that this ride is a continuation of the event they organized last year, Bikes, Birds, and Environmental Justice. The intention behind both years' events she said, was to celebrate the African diaspora and to bring visibility to Black and Brown solidarity communities, and the ways that justice movements intersect with the environment. "A lot of the narrative around environmental justice is where humans are subtracted," she explained. "We want to build a practice of how we are an addition and a part of the ecosystem." 

The ride rolls through Humboldt Park. Photo: Aasia Mohammad Castañeda
The ride rolls through Humboldt Park. Photo: Aasia Mohammad Castañeda
The ride rolls through Humboldt Park. Photo: Aasia Mohammad Castañeda

After departing the Cultural Center in Humboldt Park, the ride rolled through the neighborhood to the fishing pier at the lagoon in the Humboldt Park green space, where musicians Iré Elese Abure ensemble played, organized by Arif Smith from Music Moves Chicago. They next rode to one of the Puerto Rican flag gateways at Division and Mozart, where Eduardo Arocho from Paseo Boricua Tour Company and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center spoke. The next stop was the Honeycomb Network at 2659 W. Division St., where Denise Ruiz spoke.

The ride then proceeded to La Casita de Don Pedro at 2625 W. Division St. where Arocho spoke again, and the trip concluded at La Crucifixión de Don Pedro Mural Garden at 2425 W North Ave where Arocho gave closing remarks. The festivities concluded with snacks, refreshment, and solidarity. 

This article written with the help of Aasia Mohammad Castañeda. Other co-hosts for the ride included Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, One Earth Collective, Puerto Rican Cultural Center, and Eventnoire.

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