Blacks in baseball, women’s empowerment, and bike messengers.

I think there is something shared by all people who are “first”.

You have to be really brave to be first – since first means “it’s never been done before” and a lot of people will oppose you.

I’ve written on the topic of empowerment before, mainly by noting that the first 1% is the hardest. There were zero blacks in baseball, then a tiny few, then 1%, whoosh it was at population-parity. More here.

There is something promising in that when you get to the stage of penetration of a segregated space that you are worried about glass ceilings and such. You have a lot of people in, not yet in all the right places, and you think “this is going to take forever”. But 1% is halfway in some things…

Like sequencing the human genome:


There isn’t really any analogy to integration from that quote; just an interesting idea that progress isn’t linear, but sometimes exponential.

The other related thought: what kind of person is the first black baseball player or the first woman department chair or the first whatever else…?

There was a good piece on NYC Bike Messengers of the 1980s today in the NYTimes. Rebels, zealots…



PS, we could be 3 years away from “more bike trips per day than bus trips per day”.

(NYC DoT source)