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Now Available to View On Video

"Portland, the Black Experience: Neighborhood Reflections"

On September 16, SWHRL sponsored a panel discussion on “Portland: The Black Experience.” Three African-American neighbors—Mingus Mapps, Martha Jembere, and Kevin Rhea—spoke frankly and movingly about their experiences with racism, what it is like to be Black in a predominantly white city, and the actions they would like to see to make ours a more inclusive home for all. Over 80 people joined the widely praised conversation.

If you missed the live event, want to share it with your friends, or just watch it again, a video is now available at https://youtu.be/_klHQi8cWws. With deepest thanks to our generous speakers.


Ending Racial Injustice is Our Collective Responsibility

Like many across our nation, we have watched in horror as so many black lives have been brutally taken. The tragic killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor in recent weeks has shaken us all.  Unquestionably, white privilege and systemic racism permeate our country.  Our community is not immune to these failings, as you can hear in the trenchant words of Kevin "KRhea" Rhea, an African-American member of the SWHRL neighborhood:

 On my way out for a workout in the "whitest major city in America". A city very well known for it's racist past and it's current "climate." All I have on me is a $30 running watch, pair of running shorts, tee shirt, low socks and shoes. I CANNOT be carrying a weapon because I have no place to hide it. I'm NOT a threat to anyone and most importantly, I'm NOT RUNNING FROM anything. I'm just trying to get some exercise. Yes, I will run past "your" house, past your driveway and through your neighborhood but it's not really "your" neighborhood, it's OUR neighborhood because I too live here. I'm not a threat to your wife or daughter. I'm not the black boogeyman. If you could step outside your fear and simply say "good morning" in return as I pass, you might find a way to conquer your fear. I don't do drugs, I don't rob people, I don't rape, I don't destroy property and neither does my owning a home here bring down the value of yours.

If you feel the need to cross the street as you so often do as I approach that's on you, not me. If you choose to ignore my, "good morning" or my "hello" that's on you not me. Just know this, I started running in 1976, I started cycling in 1972 and I've had EVERY experience a black man in US can have as he runs or rides wherever the eff he feels like running or riding because these streets, roads and wilderness areas aren't YOURS . . . they're OURS and yes, that means "even" mine, a black man. The only experience I haven't had is being shot! Guns pulled but never shot. Ahmaud Arbey wasn't so lucky.

Running/cycling/walking/driving/living/being while black is not a crime . . . no matter where we choose to do it. Peace to Ahmaud Arbey. Blessings to his family. PS Do you have to worry or even think about the risk you take WEARING a mask these days? I do and it has nothing to do with the virus. Feel me.

We must support change now! More than ever, these times demand that we come together to openly confront racist oppression and discrimination in all its forms, including demanding reforms in the way we are policed.  We envision our police working collaboratively with all the communities they serve, with increased transparency, accountability, fairness, as well as public safety. SWHRL stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.