Race Matters in Oregon

March 28, 2008 By

Catrina Bush’s letter about being Black in Oregon isn’t breaking news. It’s not even surprising. It is though refreshing to have a proud black woman show the courage to share her feelings with the rest of us and offer some constructive criticism.

In the past year we have read stories about racial profiling, unequal suspension rates for black students in our schools, unequal detention of black youth in our jails and unequal exclusion of black citizens in our drug free zones. We have watched as the largest University in the state failed to interview even one minority candidate for it’s football program. We continue to claim honor for Native Americans by using their images and names as our mascots. We penalize other students for expressing pride in their culture with a dance called the Hakka. We refer to undocumented workers as Aliens.

The message is the same and it keeps coming up time after time in our city and state. Race matters and racial inequity is alive and well in almost all aspects of our daily lives.

We as citizens have a choice.We can continue to deny what Catrina Bush and others feel is real or that there is no racial profiling or that black kids aren’t treated differently in our schools and jails. We can continue to say we don’t see color. Or we can read the writing on the wall or in this case the paper, and accept that these issues are real.

Only after we accept that these issues are real and not going away, can we begin to work toward change and growth. We can begin to show Catrina and others just how wonderful Portland and Oregon are.

Catrina is right.
Racial injustices in Oregon and across America aren’t just black history; they’re everyone’s history. They are also everyone’s problem, and it’s time to find a solution. I believe we as Oregonians still have the opportunity to be different then other states. We have an opportunity to write a different racial history for our current citizens and for those to come.

40 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King we are still denying that race matters.
It matters. What we do from now on will determine, how history remembers us.

How will history remember you? As part of the problem or part of the solution?