There are Black people who ride segways

>> Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I once saw an image of a bunch of white folks on segways in a line juxtaposed against Hitler inspecting a Third Reich military company. Very impressionable.

However, in 2010 -- in the age of Obama -- there are actually some Black people who ride segways. We just rarely see them.

Ever since segways came out -- and got more popular, people of my generation saw them as something "white people ride." Why? Well, the false assumption that because they were expensive, only people with money could afford them, and although not accurate, people think the only people with money are white.

Then again, the 25 white people riding segways on a tour through West Oakland also contributed to the stereotype.

Photo: Flickr user Draveller

More than that, most Black folks just ain't gonna spend five racks on some generic Star Trek $hit. Seriously, if I can't teleport in that bia bia, I ain't spending that much money.

Plus, I can just borrow a dolly and ride that g thang as my segway.

But besides the hipsters, the only people I regularly see on segways are the po po (see: police). Whether they were campus cops, folks at the airport, etc., they were the only ones I'd ever see. And if you don't know, Black people and police is like Glenn Beck going to a Public Enemy concert. Also, I saw videos of folks in the military.

When I was a child, I used to rollerblade. Folks in the 'hood would say stuff like, "Why you trying to be white?" These folks limited their understanding of what Black people could do. That's why I'm always juiced when I see youngstas rockin those skateboards trying to Kick-Push and Coast through the hood.

Then, in the Summer of 2008, I saw a Black dude mobbin' on a segway (See: Lil Bruce) at Rockridge Out and About. He moved so fast, yet so smooth. He breezed through the crowded festival effortlessly. I said, "I will ride a segway one day."

In 2009, A.C. Transit held a test demonstration of putting segways on buses at its Accessibility Committee. Segways are also being used by people with disabilities, so they were testing whether or not segways could be secured on the bus.

But it was my chance to ride.

The folks from Segway of Oakland were on hand. I quietly asked, "Could I try?" For all I knew, I was the third Black guy in the history of Oakland to ride on (and probably the first with locks).

I got on and got the hand of it quick. Want to go forward, lean forward. Want to go right, lean right. Want to stop, lean backwards. But it's not quite a lean, its a body shift. I even started doing donuts.

I haven't ridden a segway since, but recently saw an elderly Black man -- he looked like General Larry Pratt's little brother -- riding a segway at the Subway restaurant in downtown Oakland.

To be clear, he was on the Segway in Subway, decked out in Red, Black and Green getting a five dollar footlong.

And believe it or not, his order was to go.



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