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As The World Lay On Our Shoulders; Black Lives Matter & Cooperative Ownership

In the words of Rich City Rides Bike Shop Co-op

by Cooperation Richmond staff

Tell those in the community that may not know who you are about you and your services 

Taye: The role that we play is a very simple one; we meet people where they are, supply them with what they need to feel comfortable and safe, then educate them on our own experiences. We’re a shop that just really loves to help people. We created a platform for ourselves that brings so many people together from different backgrounds and all walks of life, to see what we all have in common beyond our differences, we’re different yes but at our core we’re very much alike. We go on community rides and introduce people that would probably never meet if it wasn’t for this opportunity and we have fun, share laughs and make new friends. All in all, We’re here to bring the community together.

Tell us about your vision and the role that RCR plays in the community

Naj: The bike shop is a black owned worker cooperative, by black men who live in the community, and do a lot of work with youth and people all over Richmond and the Bay Area. Another element that makes the bike shop special is that it is run by people who live in the community, historically from the community;we provide a safe space for youth, and we’re welcoming to all. People can stop by and feel comfortable, and those who work here spend their off the clock hours doing community service provide for the community the best way we possibly can.

When you have that much community investment and involvement you should feel that obligated to do more. It’s not just about the transaction at the register, it’s about the kid who 5 years ago he was 2 and now he’s 7, he’s been with you from training wheels to no training wheels, and through that you know his family, friends, interests and in a time when we have many black neighborhoods and not enough black community it’s good to see the light develop inside the youth, when they know the whole village is here and invested in their growth..

The culture we created at the shop is the manifestation of our hope to encourage others to start a business so that youth can see that pride, and when they see you say, “hey that’s the guy that owns the shop up the street!”, and maybe want to open one themselves someday. When you see something is possible, it’s easier to know it’s possible.

What are some of your best memories in the city?

Taye:I’ve been doing work officially for 6 years, unofficially 30 + years and I’ll tell you I love Richmond, I mean “REAL RICHMOND”, Born and raised been here all my life, I truly like to see people come together and people join together, a most recent example of this is Juneteenth, Juneteenth was supposed to be canceled this year but a few folks came together and turned it into a caravan, the community put it on for itself to pull it through, and that’s what we do. There’s Soulful Softball Sundays, Community Care Self Care Sundays, people showing up under these conditions and still showing love, that’s powerful, and that’s Richmond.

Do you feel supported by the community?

Taye: Yes, very supported.

How can the city stand behind and support you?

Naj: We have to make sure our elected officials are doing what’s right, because the movements they make affect us all, they affect how the resources are delegated and control what services are supported for our youth, adults, families, and seniors.

We hope that elected officials can treat the citizens of Richmond as community the way the shop does.

How is it being black business owners in these times?

Taye: It feels normal, I wish or hope everybody knew what normal feels like, sometimes there’s nothing to do and that’s when its hard, when it’s only us things can get overwhelming and can feel like the world is on our shoulders, and thats how its always felt for us, but right now normal feels great, very satisfying. 

How did hearing about George Floyds death make you feel?

Naj: With the passing of George Floyd, we’d like to say our shop is run by black fathers, we support and love black fathers, the death of George Floyd was tragic and uncalled for, and it didn’t need to happen. It made us feel like we had to do something, to raise awareness and bring about change and with that we want to make sure our community has what it needs for black fathers, mothers, and our youth to thrive.

Do you support the protests?

Naj: I support the uprising. It’s the people’s right to be upset with injustice, and I support both sides of the protests; however being intune with the community, the folks know we are here, on Mcdonald Ave in Richmond Ca, there’s a lot of black and brown businesses all along this stretch and we’re going to protect our businesses, we will defend them, just like we defend our children, our seniors, and our city. 

What made you decide to stay the night at the shop?

Naj: If someone came through and they were not about building and being part of the solution, we were going to handle that, I wasn’t going to sleep away from responsibility knowing that something might happen to the shop that the belongs to the community, this Co-op has been our baby for 5 years, it’s an extinction of our community commitment so of course, we stayed the night just to deter vandalism but still stand in solidarity with Movement for Black Lives Defund the Police.

We have to start loving and protecting one another, just like someone should have loved and protected George Floyd. Our culture here is love and the shop is a safe haven, one time a youth that was almost attacked out front ran into the shop and we protected him, the community was called, conversations were had and the dispute was settled. This is a live example of how the community protects the community.

It’s up to each of us to play our part, Collectively.

Where does R.C.R stand on Black Lives Matter?

Taye: We’re in full support of the people

Any Words to the family and supporters of George Floyd?

Naj: To the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and all brothers and sisters over then nation who are policed to death and not provided with adequate protection we stand with you, be it with the protests, the planning or whatever the next steps maybe,we stand with you.

What would you say to the officers identified in these crimes?

Taye: I think it’s very unfortunate for them to be in the situations they find themselves in and they have to accept the consequences of their actions. If it was me, even with all I’ve accomplished and contributed, I would still be held accountable, with no sympathy, so treat them regularly like normal people on the street.