I used to love Portland Oregon, and have spent most of my adult life in the Portland area. The weather, the environmental attitude, the minimal religiosity, sometimes the goofiness, the planned development of mixed use building, all appealed to me.
It disturbs me greatly, however, that the supposedly progressive city turns out not only to have been as racist as Birmingham and Selma and Atlanta, but is far more racially exclusive now than, probably, those cities of the traditionally racist South.
From mainstream press, here is part of the story of how Portland Oregon remains the whitest major city in America. Sorry, liberal apologists for the progressive shining city on a hill, but for African Americans, it just isn't so. Now I feel ashamed to be associated with this city, even though for 15 years I've lived in the Northern Portland suburb of Vancouver WA. Of note, one of the reasons people give for preventing opening of new bridges and transit between Vancouver and Portland, is they are afraid of "urban crime", which sounds pretty much dog whistle for "black people", to me.
Washington Post Portland isn't Portlandia. It's a capital of white supremacy.
While I was still working, I directed all of my United Campaign Fund to either the Black United Way - despite some religious aspects - or to the Urban League. It's not much, but I felt it was better than the alternatives. Most people gave to environmental issues, or the Humane society, or other options. In the end, what the city needs is a national shaming, which I think it is getting, and some real soul searching among all political persuasions. They can, and should, do better.
Not surprising when you consider that Oregon was founded as a no-black-people-allowed state.
I agree. What bothers me now is the city is regarded by many as a sort of progressive Mecca. I once bought into that idea too. But despite living in a era of left wing precious political correctness, that has not made the city less racist. It actually seems more so.
Wow, Bertold! I'd never heard that about Oregon before.
Thanks for the update on Portland, Daniel. Prior to all of this I'd always heard of Oregon as a peaceful place, and of Portland as a clean city. Now I'm disillusioned. :(
From its inception, Oregon was a white-only state. They passed laws to try to get rid of any African Americans or Chinese people who were there. The laws did not pass federal muster and had to be done away with. See the Washington Post link in my update.
These days, Portland attracted a somewhat counter-cultural population and developed a liberal or progressive mystique. However, the commercial real estate interests continued to discriminate into modern times. And the white supremacist underbelly has not gone away, it's just been quiescent.
One can hope that tomorrow will be better than today, which is better than yesterday. But we should not forget the history, because that shows the struggles good of many people, and also shows the bad that people are capable of and must be guarded against. We must also avoid what has been a progressive smugness in the area, as if saying "We are better than those folks back east with their history of racism. We have never been that way"
...I read the Displacement article and it is excruciatingly depressing.....
Back in the 70's I used to live in Portland , Ore and in Sandy, Ore. I attended Marshal High School and I will say it was the best schooling I have had to experience. At the same time, I did encounter prejudices but not so bad as in other parts of the country in later years.
Today's Washington Post details the history of Oregon's founding as a white-only state, and extensive history of white supremacy in Oregon to the present day. There's a jaw-dropping image from the Oregon Historical Society with a KKK meeting and a big "Jesus Saves" banner.
"In the 1980s and ’90s, Oregon became a destination for the largest skinhead movement in the country,” Millner said. “Their objective was to achieve something pioneers tried to achieve here and that was to create a white homeland.”
Millner said that in the 1980s and 1990s, “in Oregon and especially in Portland, it was very dangerous to be a person of color."
The article also describes the murder of Mulugeta Seraw by three white supremacists with baseball bats. The SPLC and anti-defamation league sued the White Aryan Resistance, and won. This goes into the cobwebs of my memory, but I seem to recall that the lawsuit basically bankrupted white supremacy in Oregon for a generation. Maybe someone else knows more or better about that, than I do.
A similar situation existed in N. Idaho with the Aryan Nation. It finally was defeated by SPLC's victories. The lawsuits bankrupted the Aryans and they moved elsewhere.
Spokane had a black mayor some years ago who was respected by many, loathed by some. He and his wife earned the praises of our citizens. Spokane is about 2% black,
That's in the back of my memory too. I think SPLC is responsible for some very good things.
This was fascinating for me to read. I've lived in Portland since last September. I've lived in the Portland area since November of 2011. Oregon is the fifth state I've called home.
I'm white. So, I cannot discuss Portland's racism. But I'm totally blind. I can say that when it comes to accessibility for people with disabilities, Portland is the least accessible place I've lived to date. So, I'm not at all surprised to have read about Portland's ongoing racism.
All of that being said, I do believe many Portlanders want to do the right thing. There is, however, a strong, vocal group of people who stand in the way of progress.
Another dirty secret about Oregon is that it has one of the lowest rates of high school graduation in the nation. In my view, these issues are related. Typically, the less educated someone is the less likely they are to meet people from different backgrounds or to travel. If Portland is going to be as progressive as it already believes it has become, Portland must address its failing public schools.