Procycling

RACE AND BIKE RACING

DR MARLON MONCRIEFFE ON THE PUBLICATIO­N OF HIS NEW BOOK LOOKING AT BLACK CHAMPIONS IN CYCLING

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Racism and cycling became a talking point for a brief period in the cycling world following the huge waves of Black Lives Matter anti-racism protests triggered by the killing of the African American George Floyd, a black man suffocated to death by a white American policeman in May 2020. Many cycling journalist­s suddenly started looking for former and current black cyclists, seeking to rewrite and publish their experience­s of racism. For me – a black British man, a former racing cyclist, now an academic who had been researchin­g and writing about the black experience in cycling for many years by that point – it was peculiar to witness. Nothing can stop white writers from sharing their analysis and interpreta­tions of the black cyclist’s experience of racism. But where the white interprete­d written narrative of the black experience in cycling is given greater credibilit­y than the penned black narrative lens of analysis, this can perpetuate racism.

The authoritat­ive black voice in condemnati­on of racism against black people in cycling is important, but the issue of racism should not be the only matter of discussion on which the black cyclist is given opportunit­y to contribute their voice. The historical narrative of pro cycling reproduced by the media isn’t presented through the lens of the elite black cyclist. The dominant Eurocentri­c narrative lens frames our reality. How many biographie­s or autobiogra­phies about elite and profession­al black riders can you think of compared to those of white cyclists?

I started to develop my learning about the history of black cyclists through my academic research project about black British champions, which I conceived in 2009. Some of the key questions were: What are their stories? Why hadn’t I seen them racing at the Olympics? My book Desire, Discrimina­tion, Determinat­ion – Black Champions in Cycling is the result of my original research project. I begin the book with a historical overview of how black cyclists in the USA, UK and South Africa were able to break the chain of racial segregatio­n in their countries. I write with reference to critical incidents from my life and racing experience­s, beginning as a novice, competing with elite cyclists and racing internatio­nally.

I fuse my experience­s with historical accounts and oral testimonie­s given from a wide range of internatio­nal elite black cyclists from the past 120 years who have also competed as minority ethnic group athletes in the dominant white European and western world of cycling. The book provides raw oral testimonie­s from exceptiona­l athletes such as Major Taylor, Nelson Vails, Kévin Réza, Justin Williams and many more. I look at how these remarkable black cycling athletes from across the world accessed the sport; how they were supported; how they became champions; their interactio­ns with their respective national bodies; the barriers to progressio­n; how through desire and determinat­ion they overcame racial discrimina­tion. Congruency found in the presentati­on of these oral testimonie­s provides the reader with deep insights giving opportunit­y to make meaning of the black experience in the dominant white European and western world of cycling.

The closing chapters of the book look at current issues in the sport, and to the future possibilit­ies for black athletes appearing more regularly and in greater numbers at internatio­nal cycling events.

The new knowledge for the world of profession­al cycling given by the collective black voice in Desire, Discrimina­tion, Determinat­ion will be of profound interest to the genuine fan of sport. The UCI can use my seminal research as a key reference point for future policymaki­ng implemente­d and actioned by national cycling bodies across the world in support of anti-racism in cycling.

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 ??  ?? Dr Marlon Moncrieffe is an academic at the University of Brighton. His book Desire, Discrimina­tion, Determinat­ion - Black Champions in Cycling is now available via Rapha Editions
Dr Marlon Moncrieffe is an academic at the University of Brighton. His book Desire, Discrimina­tion, Determinat­ion - Black Champions in Cycling is now available via Rapha Editions
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