The Portland Medium
When you ride through a neighborhood and see yard signs that reflect on your humanity as a Black person, you may feel a strong sense of belonging and security. What if that neighborhood is almost all white? Does it matter? Well, it should matter to those people who fight to make their city more of a bright spot versus an embarrassment.
Some may only see Portland, Oregon as the recent national news has portrayed it – as the center of violent political clashes between the racist Proud Boys and the anti-racist Antifa movements.
Protests that made the City of Portland board up much of it’s downtown due to street demonstrations caused by, among other high profile police killings, the murder of George Floyd. Floyd was a Black man killed by Minneapolis police officers on May 25, 2020. Some saw that killing as a call to get out of their comfort zone and get in the fight for human rights.
In Portland, you could see everyday white soccer moms and sheltered white college kids taking part in protests you would have not expected only a few years earlier. However, Portland is different. Many of it’s residents don’t believe that because it is a “white city” it has to be aloof on the serious matters of race.
Portland is reported as being one of the least diverse large metro areas in the U.S.. However, it is also considered one of the most diverse regions in the state of Oregon with twenty-seven percent of the metro’s population identified as people of color.
Based on the U.S. Census, 74% in Pdx identified as white and 5.8% African American. There are larger Hispanic and Asian populations that make up the city as well.
If you live in Portland and let’s say your Black school age teen daughter wants to hang out over her white friend’s house in the southeast part of the city, what do you do? In Portland, the more historical part of the city is the Northeast area – although that has changed over the years. However, you may feel comfortable pulling up to the house and there it is – a Black Lives Matter yard sign. If it were a confederate flag or a blue lives matter sign, backing the car up and driving away as your daughter goes into that home would never be an option for many Black parents.
Yard signs can give you an idea of the politics and culture of that community. Black yard signs in white neighborhoods are so often put off as gimmicky. There are often conversations about the level of racism in the town as BLM signs grace nice white owned, manicured lawns.
These yard signs actually advertises the effort to find a better way forward. Those that do something about racism, no matter how small, should be highly commended. They should not allow naysayers to dampen their contribution to end racism. Their part is so important, give them the money that the city and state spend on beautification and advertising.
That’s right, those that have Black Lives Matter signs in their yards (renters and owners alike) should receive a hefty stipend of at least $1000,000 – and annually. It would be for making Portland more awesome than it would be but for everyday folks fighting against racism. The love of money maybe the root of all evil. However, it can also be used as a resource to fight against evil. And, racism is evil.