Sep 13, 2020

Black Lives Matter.

 Driving while black. That's a real thing, Not getting a job because you're black, Thats a thing. 

Portland, and all of Oregon actually, has been a racist state since its founding. Real estate exclusions, Black neighborhoods decimated by urban renewal. Educational disparities.

You can read about the historic and systemic history of the destruction of Black neighborhoods in the Portland area here:

These links give a "big picture" look of racism in Oregon.

I'm going to share some stories told  by friends of mine who have experienced blatant discrimination.

One of my  Black employees at a previous  job described a  horrific event in the 1940's when he was a child. Holding his father's hand on a hill outside  Newberg Oregon,  he and his father looked down on their home in the distance, fully engulfed in flames. He remembered looking up at his father, who was crying. They had been burned out of their home by  white Newberg residents. They moved to Tualatin, but again were "encouraged" to leave that town.

A Black friend and former co-worker told me about moving his family from the east coast to Oregon. He told me about his anxiety, bordering on terror, of driving across the country, knowing he would be passing through dozens of small towns, knowing of the probability of being pulled over for no reason other than "driving while Black".

Years later, he was the manager of a medium/large business in Gresham, Oregon. He often worked late and was the last to leave his building. One night, as he left the building and was locking the front door, a city of Gresham police car pulled up. The officer approached him and asked him what he was doing there. My friend was in a business suit, doing nothing but leaving work and locking up the building. And the officer proceeded to grill him on why he was there, asked to show ID, was asked why he was working late, where did he live.

When I served on the Troutdale city council, after council meetings,  several of us often went to a local watering hole late at night for "beer and bull" sessions with city staff and off duty police officers. One night, I brought up the subject of "driving while Black" to the officers. I asked them if that was a valid complaint from people of color. The officers vehemently denied that "driving while Black" was a "thing".  They all insisted that they only pulled over vehicles for valid reasons.  

I've never been  pulled over by police "just because". I've never been stopped by the police for no reason while leaving work. I've never been burned out of my home by racists. I've never had to fear for my life while driving through small towns across the country.

It's time to listen, not judge. It's time to treat others as we would like to be treated. The golden rule.

It's time to have a conversation. Shut our mouths and open our ears. to listen.

Here's a starting point:

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