By Taji Chesimet
WANT Esteemed Contributor
PORTLAND – In August I sat down with Tyler, one warm summer night, we discussed the convoluted contrast of Portland and its rich racial past and present image. We are two young black men who decided that the conversations we had deserved, no, need recognition. So Tyler and I conversed on a myriad of topics that ranged from the racial disparities in Portland, Oregon to what black voters need in this country. These are my stances on our topics.
Tyler White, 17, is a senior at De La Salle North Catholic High School in Portland, Oregon. He grew up in Portland and has lived the entirety of his life here, he’s made it his mission to ensure that future generations are better equipped to face the interpersonal issues that we will undoubtedly encounter those as we rise up in the coming years. Through a plethora of social justice work, he exemplifies how important community involvement remains.
One of the first things I noticed was our conversations focused on topics uncomfortable, important, and real. Anger is something that I pushed as a theme in this episode. I do not want to be educated rather be enraged, with passion and hope.
As I contemplated the dialogue of that night, I kept coming back to one of our most discussed topics, that of Portland. Then and now, I want to highlight how significant making headway towards the nature of our beloved city. Portland wasn’t made for the racially signified. According to Realtor.com, Portland is the 4th most gentrified city in America, it continues the ambitious goal of progressiveness at the expense of those displaced residents and unwilling migrants, forced to move with an ever more minuscule catalog of locations available to them.
We continued the conversation, moving towards violence and racial tensions. The boom in the desire for households in the North, NE, and downtown area, has enabled a space for disrespected and categorically forgotten residents to move to areas like East Portland and the Gresham area. Yet the problem doesn’t stop there, as due to this influx, we see a major disproportion in crime turnover rate, something that creates a cycle of pain and desperation.
This leaves you with the key question: If we cannot have black and brown countermeasures to combat our already established countermeasures, what do we do?
America depends on the voting system in place. Our ancestors fought for the right to equal and fair representation through voting. However, I do not see the federal government engendering the proper change to elicit the progress that is so necessary for us all in our current political climate. Hope is not just an expectation it is fundamental. A fundamental outlined in our constitution, written on our arms and bled into our flag. If we can not vote for change, we must stand for change.
If you want to hear more, please listen to Urban Conversations at Black Oregon
Photo Credit: Taji Chesimet