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http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20050527/ts_csm/ablackbike



By Patrik Jonsson, Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor Fri May 27, 4:00 AM ET

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - For the two weeks leading up to Memorial Day in this kitschy beach town, bikers rule.

Motorcyclists burn rubber, throw "smoke shows," and flaunt their American choppers and Japanese "rice rockets," all with the Atlantic's thrumming breakers in the background, washing away the last of winter's spell.

In the wake of last week's Carolina Harley dealers' rally, which drew hundreds of thousands of mostly white bikers, a massive crowd of mostly black motorcyclists is arriving for this weekend's Atlantic Beach Memorial Day Bike Festival. It's one of the biggest black street parties in the nation, and the mood in Myrtle Beach abruptly shifts.

Despite their reputation for mayhem, the Harley riders are left largely alone during their 10-day festival. During "Black Bike Week," however, the city blocks streets, adds 300 officers, and makes 60 blocks of Ocean Boulevard one way.

To defenders of the arrangement, it's a sensible response to a festival known for its rowdiness, even in a famously rowdy town. But as the US Fourth Circuit Court attempts to resolve whether the city's actions amount to racial discrimination, many of the bikers say their treatment amounts to being cordoned in, one more insult in a region with a history of racial splits.

"In 1903, W.E.B. DuBois predicted that the problem of the 20th century would be the 'problem of the color line,' " says Bobby Donaldson, a history professor at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. "This lawsuit ... is just one episode in a long-standing critique of racial disparities."

Twenty-five years ago, the Atlantic Beach Motorcycle Club sponsored its first "Black Bike Week" in Atlantic Beach, one of the country's few historically black beach towns. In the late 1990s - when black festivals were exploding, from Atlanta to Daytona Beach - it swiftly grew from its four-mile stretch of Atlantic Beach southward into Myrtle Beach proper. In 1999, police made Ocean Boulevard a one-way street for the event and beefed up their presence on the roads.

The NAACP filed its suit against the city in 2003, on the heels of a successful campaign to have the statehouse lower its Confederate flag. Traffic restrictions, the lawsuit alleged, were discriminatory, as were aggressive police tactics that bullied black tourists. The NAACP has also filed lawsuits against several restaurants and a hotel that close down during the weekend.

Black bikers won their first victory when a 4th Circuit judge granted an injunction, barring the city from making Ocean Boulevard a one-way street - unless it did the same for the Harley riders. Last week, however, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., overturned that injunction, allowing the city to set up its barricades. (The trial is set for 2006.)

"The only difference between these two festivals is the race of the participants," says Michael Navarre, a lawyer in Washington who is helping prosecute the case.

Myrtle Beach has a reputation for allowing tourists to let loose. In the 1950s, cops wore bright bathing shorts on patrol and, as part of one summer festival, jokingly "arrested" tourists whose trousers they deemed too long.

Now, city officials deny that race has anything to do with their treatment of the two biking events. The Harley riders, they say, disperse to all corners of the county. During Black Bike Week, in contrast, people mostly stay along the beach. Police say participants at the latter event tend to be younger and more raffish - and they argue that the potential for mischief is greater with the light, fast Japanese bikes that many of them prefer. The ultimate goal, officials say, is emergency access to a beach packed with people - an impossible task if Ocean Boulevard is jammed.

"Our responsibility is to make it as safe and free-flowing as possible," says Mark Kruea, a city spokesman. "But with the kinds of vehicles, the location of the vehicles, the number of pedestrians, the age of the crowd - there are far more differences [between the festivals] than similarities."

Indeed, adjusted for duration - Black Bike Week is five days; the Harley festival is 10 - police arrested twice as many people per day (about 200) during last year's Black Bike Week as during the Harley fest.

Some say that the sheer magnitude of Black Bike Week is enough to shake up the South's traditional social strata. There's a queasiness among both tourists and locals when a predominantly white beach town morphs into an African-American biking mecca, says Tiffiney Bryant, a local waitress who grew up on the Strand. "Tourists come from these small towns where they're used to blacks being 'humble,' and suddenly they are outnumbered by blacks who are out being bold and having fun," she says. "I think they just get scared."

As early as Wednesday, bikers rolled in, wearing slick sunglasses and custom helmets. Taverns churned out music and enthusiasts set up "clubs" on the street.

At "Club 14" - actually a small parking lot near 14th Avenue - Tonyor Brooks, who rides with the female Sassy Riders Motorcycle Club out of Greenville, S.C., says color lies behind the city's motives. But most bikers try to take it in stride, she says, and blame some of the tension on younger participants, who tend to have less respect for authority. "Despite all this, we'll still manage to have fun," she says.

For Anthony Anderson, a leather-clad black biker here from Chicago, it's not that simple. The lawsuit is less about race and more about economics and social perceptions, he says: Discrimination is based on post-9/11 attitudes and what kind of bike - American vs. foreign - a given biker rides.

"When I rode a [Japanese Kawasaki], I used to get hassled a lot more by police," he says. These days, when truckers see his bike is a Harley, "they give me the road."
 

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I have a red bike
 

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the fact that there is a "black bike week" makes me feel like there is a racist connotation from the start, and thats is how i would probly treat it. if we are all equal there shouldnt be these stupid things. why not just a bike week where EVERYONE goes instead of all the black people waiting for the next week(i think i read)
 

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Jeez... can these people possibly cry more. "Humble" my ass what the fuck is she talking about. I live in the deep south and noone I know expects blacks to act "humble." Most people I know expect them to act just like everyone else which they by and large do. The article even points out there are twice as many arrests per day. It probably isn't because of race but because of the difference in age and the difference in the style of bikes that are rode.
 

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Arrow, the name of the thing is not Black Bike Week, it is the Atlantic Bike Festival, and for your information there are white sport bike riders that go. It is called black bike week because MOSTLY black people go. NO ONE stops white people from coming, hell, if a black guy on a harley is welcome there, trust me, white guys on sportbikes would be too. But we all know this country started out excluding black people from what white people were doing, so if they wanted to have celebrations, they had to create their own.

Look at black schools, they actually, esp. if they are public, admit any race, and i see on my school campus a LOT more white people because the pharmacy and other programs here are top-notch...but, it is still called a BLACK school because of how it started, and because despite the increase in whites coming here, it is still mostly black.

I understand what you are saying, but come on, understand the history of this country. harley riders were the original bad asses and they get a break in myrtle beach...but these badasses (calling them all the same thing) don't?

I don't see why they could't make the side streets that touch the main one way so emergency vehicles can get to the main at different points, instead of making such a long stip of the beach one way, that means if soeone wants to get back to their hotel or something, they must go all the way down and come all the way back up? What a killer...especially since the traffic moves so slow. There is a solution to this that both sides need to find and work out. If the city feels the previous setup is unsafe, and the bikers feel the extremes are discriminatory, they need to take a deep breath and find a middle ground.

Unfortunately, I doubt that will happen.

And arrow, harley week can easily be called white bike week. NOt because they name it that way but because that is mostly the race that is there.

The more universal bike weeks are in daytona and miami, i believe. Someone correct me if i am wrong. I personally say these naacp and so forth need to be like any customer in a store: if you are getting bad customer service, take your business and your MONEY elsewhere. When they can no longer overcharge for rooms and notice the significant drop in income because memorial weekend is empty of the bikers they can't stand...come back a year or two later and see if the city will sing a more compromising tune.
 

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If the organizers of these things would put together a concerted effort to work WITH the city and WITH the police to help them do their job while allowing the young people to have fun, this would not become the racial tension that it is. And yes, in this country, whenever a predominantly white neighborhood is suddenly crowded with darker faces, the nervousness and tension is thick enough to cut with a knife.

And i have been to a small town during my internship where i later received low marks on evaluation back at headquarters for being blunt...considering everyone i knew there got along with me fine, i asked one of the black ladies there if she thought i was being blunt, and told her what the supervisor there had rated me, and she said honestly, as someone who came there from jersey (it is a mill), she feels that they are just not used to seeing a black person who doesn't have that humble attitude referred to in the article, i came there i was young, i was smart, i was pleasant but i was not kissing ass, and the head guy didn't like it. Everyone else liked me though, but apparently the head guy wanted his ego stroked.

I have been in a diversity course with some other interns and employees on yet another internship where we were asked without knowing any details on the characters, to give our first impressions of the people they put up on the screen. In one picture, there were 2 white guys and one black guy, and the black guy was dressed semi casual, with a neutral expression...

Do you know when it was time to give our impressions, many of the white people in the room said he seemed UNFRIENDLY JUSSSSST because he was not smiling? It was SO strange because I found him handsome and he looked to be intelligent, and the white people in the picture were not smiling either but they didn't rate them as unfriendly-looking! It turned out i had interpreted him correctly: the course instructor revealed the stats on each person, one of the white guys was a college student, and one white guy AND the black guy were professionals, the black guy worked on wall street or somewhere in real life.

That is the underlying racism of this country, and you can bet any money that none of those people consider themselves racist, but just like in the slave days, a black male is considered dangerous if he is not smiling at all times and giving off a "yes, massa" kiss-ass (read, HUMBLE) attitude.

It's very sad, and it will be probly another couple hundred years before it changes, if it ever does. I personally have been here for years and I see his point. The blacks and whites are born breathing race issues from birth...and even the ones who feel they are above it do not see what the foreigners see....very sad...

In the end Myrtle Beach represents a little of everything:

The conflict between black and white
The conflict between American muscle machines and Foreign precision machines
The conflict between the young and the old
The conflict between small town mentality and big city mentality

Everything. It is no one thing. In my opinion. And it will not be resolved by trying to force the city to call it a race thing and reverse all their changes. Neither will it be solved by the city pretending it's all about allowing emergency vehicles easy access...if they don't respect each other's positions and find a middle ground, it's just going to be a lot of bad blood going around...
 

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This longstanding bigoted approach to the two events (one of which is, in fact, White Bike Week) is well known. The idea that "these people" are making it up is idiotic on its face. Attendees come to have a good time. And white people are welcome.

Black-centric institutions grew out of the unwelcome mat at White-centric institutions.

I don't see why this would be the object of anyone's disdain.
 

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jim schmidt said:
This longstanding bigoted approach to the two events (one of which is, in fact, White Bike Week) is well known. The idea that "these people" are making it up is idiotic on its face. Attendees come to have a good time. And white people are welcome.

Black-centric institutions grew out of the unwelcome mat at White-centric institutions.

I don't see why this would be the object of anyone's disdain.
Thank you. Anyone on a bike is welcome at either event, but the fact that the other is harley week rules out most young people of any race, that is predominantly the domain of first old men, and then old white men.

People forget how things in this country ended up majority white or majority black...that unwelcome mat...Good post Schmidt... (but at the same time young people at the beach in general are a headache for law enforcement, so it still comes back to the organizers and the city working out a compromise, cause it's their city, but it's your money)...
 

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I first saw the post and I was like "Cool, black bikes have their own week." Then I actually read it and saw it was generally for black riders... I don't know if i'm alone here and I don't really care to be honest, racial organizations don't helping anything... Next thing you know, the KKK has their own 10k Man March trying to outnumber everyone else. Everyone needs to sit down, and watch some Matt Damon whatever-gay-serial-killers-who-ride-horses-and-like-to-play-golf-touchy-feely-picture that makes them happy.
 

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Carbine said:
There really needs to be a white bike week.
+1

whiteys aren't welcome into a "black bike week"? reverse racism if you ask me.
 

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prodigal27 said:
I first saw the post and I was like "Cool, black bikes have their own week." Then I actually read it and saw it was generally for black riders... I don't know if i'm alone here and I don't really care to be honest, racial organizations don't helping anything... Next thing you know, the KKK has their own 10k Man March trying to outnumber everyone else. Everyone needs to sit down, and watch some Matt Damon whatever-gay-serial-killers-who-ride-horses-and-like-to-play-golf-touchy-feely-picture that makes them happy.
Have you read anything everybody else been posting? White bikers go to black bike week. They are just in the minority. And black bike week is the unofficial name for the event just because of the race of the majority who show up. And that majority ended up black due to the discrimination of the past...

Why is it cool for black bikers to have their own week? Your first impression of it being cool for black bikers to be over there in their own bike week sounds racist.

I personally don't care, but i wonder if you folks are reading everything?
 

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Brownilus said:
Have you read anything everybody else been posting? White bikers go to black bike week. They are just in the minority. And black bike week is the unofficial name for the event just because of the race of the majority who show up. And that majority ended up black due to the discrimination of the past...

Why is it cool for black bikers to have their own week? Your first impression of it being cool for black bikers to be over there in their own bike week sounds racist.

I personally don't care, but i wonder if you folks are reading everything?
Yea, I read the whole thing, that's why I stated "generally", I was speaking a little off topic, saying that organizations that are racially connotated are pointless. That goes for caucasians as well.

Oh yea, I didn't say that it's cool for "black bikers" to have their own week. I said "black bikes". Ya know, like the color of the machine. I like black bikes better than red, people can say red is faster. But black is sleek.
 

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Brownilus said:
Arrow, the name of the thing is not Black Bike Week, it is the Atlantic Bike Festival, and for your information there are white sport bike riders that go. It is called black bike week because MOSTLY black people go. NO ONE stops white people from coming, hell, if a black guy on a harley is welcome there, trust me, white guys on sportbikes would be too. But we all know this country started out excluding black people from what white people were doing, so if they wanted to have celebrations, they had to create their own.

Look at black schools, they actually, esp. if they are public, admit any race, and i see on my school campus a LOT more white people because the pharmacy and other programs here are top-notch...but, it is still called a BLACK school because of how it started, and because despite the increase in whites coming here, it is still mostly black.

I understand what you are saying, but come on, understand the history of this country. harley riders were the original bad asses and they get a break in myrtle beach...but these badasses (calling them all the same thing) don't?

I don't see why they could't make the side streets that touch the main one way so emergency vehicles can get to the main at different points, instead of making such a long stip of the beach one way, that means if soeone wants to get back to their hotel or something, they must go all the way down and come all the way back up? What a killer...especially since the traffic moves so slow. There is a solution to this that both sides need to find and work out. If the city feels the previous setup is unsafe, and the bikers feel the extremes are discriminatory, they need to take a deep breath and find a middle ground.

Unfortunately, I doubt that will happen.

And arrow, harley week can easily be called white bike week. NOt because they name it that way but because that is mostly the race that is there.

The more universal bike weeks are in daytona and miami, i believe. Someone correct me if i am wrong. I personally say these naacp and so forth need to be like any customer in a store: if you are getting bad customer service, take your business and your MONEY elsewhere. When they can no longer overcharge for rooms and notice the significant drop in income because memorial weekend is empty of the bikers they can't stand...come back a year or two later and see if the city will sing a more compromising tune.

Brownlicious.............Herein lies the problem.

If it is not called Black Bike Week, then why am I on the receiving end of e-mails from nearly a dozen different e-mail sources from riders and organizations within the motorcycle industry headlining the event as BLACK BIKE WEEK? Along with correspondences from NABB. NABB is an African-American based riders consortium........Correct?

Do not get me wrong, we all ride sportbikes or streetbike motorcycles. But there is a continual racial connotation and overtone with the promotion of this annual event. Moreover, motorcycling is already with divide. IMO, this does not reduce what is already present.

On a positive acknowledgement, it is absolutely outstanding that the event attendance is so strong year after year.

As John Stossel would say........."Give me a break"!


:cheers
 

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In a perfect world there would be no outdated and unscientific concepts such as "race", and no religion or politics either. Take those away and the only thing we would have left to fight about is territory - just like in the animal kingdom, but with guns. (Flame away)

But in this world, fights like these will come up. And there will be institutions on both sides to help fight them. At this point in our history, such organization is sometimes necessary.

And in this particular case, it sounds like the bikers have a reason to argue... but perhaps, so do the city officials. Down in Miami, rap is enjoyed by anyone from any ethnicity - but almost everyone who attends the days-long annual rap parties in South Beach is young. A common factor for both events. Stabbings, shootings, rapes.. all common incidents in the parties.

How bad is the Atlantic Festival? I don't have other facts to go on. If it's like what I just described, I'd bring in the damn National Guard. If it's not, the city officials are full of shit. I don't go by the high number of arrests, because a cop can go on a power trip for any reason. Who's been there that can tell me what it's really like?
 

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Blah blah blah, throw the race card out there. I don't give a shit, I hate everyone equally. BOTH sides try to play it off as racism, it'll never end. Black bike week, white bike week, why not just bike weeks? Oh wait, you can go to any rally you want. I'm sure a black guy would feel at home during "white" bike week, or my cracker ass feeling at home during "black" bike week. Who gives a shit, it's how things are and will probably stay for awhile. The NAACP can blow me, they only proliferate the situation, and that goes for the KKK as well.
 

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I was debating on heading down there, but decided against it.
 
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