Beyond the near-term hurdles we face, the town of Ferguson is coming together to attack and solve some of the long-term causes of anger and frustration among our black residents. Among other things, initiatives to provide more economic opportunity for young people are being developed. Funding from major St. Louis corporations is flowing to provide job training and opportunities.
We've used some of that funding at the bike shop to start an apprentice program. The goal of this apprentice program is to provide an opening into the bicycle industry for young black men in our community.
Black employment and ownership is way under-represented in the bicycle industry. Our shop is a good example of that: 4 employees, including the owner, all white. The story is virtually the same in bicycle shops across the St. Louis region: no black ownership and little to no black employees.
The same situation applies across the U.S. A recent issue of the Bicycle Retailers and Industry News showcased America's Best Bike Shops. A scan of the pictures accompanying the article, while not a very scientific sampling method, probably gives a fairly accurate reflection of black (and female) representation in bike shops around the U.S. Here's the count of those pictured:
Total owners and employees: 252
Women: 41 (16.3%)
African-Americans: 3 (1.2%)
We're trying to do our part to change these numbers. This will be good for Ferguson, good for the St. Louis area, and good for our country.
You can show your support for what we're doing and for our apprentice program with items that are labeled with a message that shows that you have Hope for Ferguson.