The most helpful insight in my life was when I realized that 'Superficiality' was one problem, and that 'unrestrained predatory self-interest' - that uses superficial differences as a cover - is another.
As a society we can continue to improve our public presentation of a non-superficial image. This helps the children to become less superficial than they might otherwise be.
The problem of people acting at the expense of others is often a blatantly competitive and selfish act. It usually indicates a very small vision of cooperative realities and possibilities. Unfortunately, laws are absolutely necessary to protect any vulnerable person from those who would use them.
Being a racial minority is only one kind of vulnerability. No vulnerable person is safe.
But in addition to laws, we desperately need ongoing education and communication of a vision that shows how all people are lifted by each others success. It is not a zero sum game. No one laughs or cries without flavoring the soup.
When I began to see the clips of Reverend Wright all over the internet and on all the TV channels and they were the same pejorative clip over and over, I cringed inside. It is a funny sensation, that cringe. Black people feel it and know it. The cringe is what we feel when we hear about a mass murderer killing 14 people on an Amtrak train. It goes like this, "Oh Lord, PLEASE don't let that murderer have been a black man, please Lord". That cringe is the hunching of the shoulders and the ducking of the head in anticipation of the blows to follow. It was the disappointment when the helicopters turned out to really be following OJ.
When I saw the clips of Rev. Wright and understood, I was not surprised to see and hear the wide gaping, but very unequal, interpretations being pounded at us by the purposeful media like Fox and the lazy media that just replays their clips and opinions like nearly all other media outlets. I cringed because I have seen this script before. The endless replays. The mockery and humiliation that leads to accepted "truth".
I began yesterday to see the reactions to Obama's speech. Some said the speech was brilliant. Some, like Fox, said, "Obama refuses to denounce unpatriotic Black preacher". Most local news and takes said something very mild and played a very small clip.
So, I went to the source, and watched the speech myself. What impresses me, what refreshes me, is the courage of Obama. He is honoring the people by not giving them a dumbed down sound bite denunciation of Rev Wright. He is by one part loyal and by another part refuses to allow the simple characterization of himself or Rev Wright. When he said, Rev Wright was of an older generation that sees the world thru the lens of their time and not by the lens we, who are younger and forward looking, use I understood. And I forgive. Just as I forgive when I have the older white patient who says "Nigra" or "coloured" or expresses some pejorative view about black people. I understand, and don't think that view or those words are a reflection of their true heart; they speak as their world was at one time not knowing another way.
The speech takes on the complex problem of race in America. I too, am a biracial man, and I got everything Obama said down to my bones. I felt proud to see him addressing everything about our country, the good and the bad, for white people, black people, brown people, native people, Asian people, and all the variations in between. I too, want us to form a more perfect union, to live up to the greatest document every produced to establish a people, the constitution of the United States of America. I reject the divisive zero sum game, as Obama said, we have been fed through the 70's and 80's. I felt proud to be an American after seeing this speech and full of hope for our country.
So, see the speech for yourselves and don't just rely on the views of others.
Americans have fallen in love with racism.
The victims have allowed their anger to destroy them and have become part of the problem. Reverend Wright's sermons are the perfect example of the victim becoming the perpetrator. I have a feeling that many African Americans subconsciously don't want to get beyond racism, and I think this happens with many people who have been oppressed or repressed. Sometimes discrimination creates and preserves a culture and a community. I am a depressed person and in some ways I have fallen in love with depression, it is who I am, it is a much a disease as a defense mechanism. The same might be true for African Americans. I think many have fallen in love with being the victim and it has been so inculcated into their culture and church's. Sometimes anger and victim-hood becomes a cause celebre and almost creates a false sense of togetherness.
A super-sized elephant is in the room: minorities are as guilty, if not more so, then the majority. Yes, minorities are also racists! I am white and went to a 90% black school for four years, I was repeatedly the victim of racism. Americans on all sides have such an aggrandized sense of entitlement, we are essentially the Israelis and the Palestinians, right here in the USA. No side will cede anything. People with originally good ideas have turned into monsters. This widespread racism, hidden behind the facade of religion is repulsive on all sides: Blacks can be bigoted against whites, whites can be bigoted against homosexuals, religions can be bigoted against other religions, all in the name of some god or other.
The most egregious recent widespread discrimination to occur in America was the government sanctioned ban on gay marriage. Blacks overwhelming supported this. How ironic a minority discriminating against a minority! In the democratic primaries the statistics show that whites voted less along racial lines then blacks and Hispanics. With blacks overwhelmingly supporting Obama and Hispanics overwhelming supporting Clinton, because she isn't black. This is all racism by minorities! Quite frankly the statistics seem to say that whites are the least racist group in the country. It is hard for any objective person to stomach this and then repeatedly hear from African Americans and other minorities sometimes absurd claims of racism, for example: that the slow response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina was all racism, before any form of evidence was in to support this.
Many of my "liberal" friends repeatedly buy into and perpetuate claims of racism without analyzing the facts or doing any critical thinking. They immediately jump on the bandwagon, even if its broken. Liberals have also fallen in love with the oppressed and being oppressed particularly since Bush has been in power.
Homosexuals are guilty too, they often say outrageous things against straight people. We also have: Fat people versus skinny. Smokers versus non smokers. With everyone in America being in a group being discriminated against. Oh, I almost forgot the disabled!
Even black people now also discriminate against black people. Debra Dickerson was on several programs on NPR, months back, speaking about how Obama was not black enough. Apparently for Dickerson you are only considered black if you are poor and fit all the black stereotypes. Neil Conan actually let this woman speak and few seemed to object at this flagrant racism, against not only black people, but white people also - because you could conclude: she felt Obama seemed too white and there was something wrong with that. Again the victim becoming the perpetrator.
GUILT: We are all guilty. It is hard for any side to be on a soapbox at this location in history. There have been so many ridiculous conspiracy theories aired and perpetuated, even by the media, regarding racism. Wolf has been cried innumerable times. All sides have lost their patience, are apathetic and jaded.
EXPECTATIONS: Whites are expected to be racist. Black are expected to be victims. These expectations in themselves are stereotypes and bigotry. Expectations often help cause the proposed outcome. If people are repeatedly expected to be a certain way, they often become it.
PRIDE also plays a huge part in this mess. Minorities are repeatedly espousing mission statements of pride, they have so wholehearted bought into this, without analyzing some very negative consequences. Pride is a dangerous animal. In some ways it can be used to boost self esteem when people are against you. But after a while it can also cause people to go overboard and believe their culture our group is better then the others. Pride has now become a form a self-segregation.
Perhaps this racial muddle will result in such confusion, that people won't know what to believe anymore, will stop trying to figure it out and everyone can just become individual people!
To ask the question, "Do you think racism is still alive?" is an outrage and an embarrassment. It is akin to asking, "Do you think we are still at war in Iraq?"
Not only does this question have an obvious answer - of course racism is still alive and well all over the world, as well as here at home in Oregon - but the act of asking the question suggests that there is a possibility that the answer could be "no". It opens the door to the belief that racism is not a problem. The question itself gives people the option to close their eyes and their minds and choose to believe that we do not have a problem with racism.
Some better questions might be: How do you experience racism in Oregon? What are some of the unique racial issues here in Oregon?
For this discussion it might be useful to define the terms "racism" and "prejudice" in order to help those who comment identify more accurately their opinions and experiences.
Racism is the belief that humans of different races are inherently different, and is usually accompanied by the belief that one's own race is superior. "Racist" is also the term used to describe any policy or action taken that is race based (e.g. hiring individuals based on race).
Prejudice is the term used to describe preconceived attitudes and opinions about a person, usually negative, formed without actually knowing him or her.
In my experience, I've seen more prejudice than racism in Oregon. This isn't a state of "we don't serve your kind here", but it is a place where you might get some funny looks, unwelcome and uncomfortable conversation topics, and other more glaring offenses.
How refreshing to see premises and logic used.
My experience in Oregon: Yes indeed. Very white, esp. in the Eastern half. I came from Tulsa. There was a huge race riot in 1921. The white burned down "Black Wall Street", a community that was upper middle class. There was a black society. It was strong. It was good. But... the niggers were gettin' uppity. The destruction will be a shame in history forever. That's sort of where I'm coming from...
... Now my experience in Oregon. I was called a racist by a woman of Mexican decent. She had asked for an advance in pay so she could make a payment for her sick child's health insurance. I told her I'd gladly pay the insurance directly. She said her parents, her culture would find that offensive. Then she played the racist card on me. I found out later she really wanted cash for drugs. Which there is a lot of here... (another can of worms)
.. Personally? I find a lot less friction when cultures don't clash. Does that make me a racist? I don't know. Does it?
[quote]Some better questions might be: How do you experience racism in Oregon? What are some of the unique racial issues here in Oregon?[/quote]
I completely agree.
I just got done listening to the show and was annoyed by it. I'm white, and have lived in NE Portland for 5 years or so. NYC and Europe before that.
While listening to the show, I thought I'd call up to contribute my experiences of racism directed at me, here in Portland. But I quickly picked up that the show was focused on the subset of racism from white people to others. That definition of racism seemed to be a presumption underlying the show's discussion. I found that facile and not very helpful.
Forgot to say one thing: Schools should educate children about diversity, creating opportunities for students to interact with and learn about people from a variety of races and backgrounds. Not just one day to learn about diversity. It should be infused throughout the curriculum.
Growing up as a bi-racial kid in Corvallis, Oregon was both fascinating and challenging. On the one hand, it was a study in how to get along with kids from different cultural backgrounds. On the other hand it was almost unbearable to go for months without seeing another student or teacher who looked like me. Any loneliness, however, was counterbalanced by my pride in seeing my black father ? a janitor ? as a well-respected City Council member.
Today, like my father some twenty years ago in Corvallis, I am a candidate for Portland?s city council. I?ve run my campaign on the issues that will most determine Portland?s future: education, the environment, and living-wage jobs. Most importantly, I?ve run my campaign on collaborative leadership. Leading by dividing people by race, sex, or class is no longer acceptable, nor is it the formula for America?s, or Portland?s success.
As Sen. Obama stated, ?We cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together.?
I do not think it is a coincidence that I have a chance to join city council in the same year that Barack Obama has a chance to be president of the United States. At all levels Americans are looking for leaders who are committed to harnessing the abilities, energy and vision of all citizens as we face the daunting challenges ahead. Sen. Obama?s speech gives America permission to talk in honest terms about race, an issue we too often discuss in sound bites. This is a crucial first step, and one Portlanders must take if we are to build a brighter future for our city.
While I commend Mr. Branam for attempting to bring some diversity to Oregon politics, besides being bi-racial any comparison of him and Senator Barack Obama is laughable.
Senator Obama repeatedly shows good judgment, has surrounded himself with a talented group of non self serving individuals, and has the experience and background to bring people together. From what I?ve learned about Mr. Branam he shows none of these characteristics.
On the judgment issue and who you surround yourself with: According to the Willamette Week, ?Busse, a former Portland Mercury editor and 2004 mayoral candidate, has been paid $16,000 to manage Branam's campaign since Branam got his first check, for nearly $135,000, from the city in late February. This is Busse's first campaign manager job besides his own 2004 mayoral bid. For comparison?s sake, Jennifer Yocom, the sought-after campaigner who?s managing Commissioner Sam Adams? mayoral bid, has made just over $10,000 since January.?
Also a recent issue of the Portland Mercury said, " February 28 was Phil Busse's lucky day. That's the day that the John Branam campaign for city council cut him a check for $15,000, for Busse's work as campaign manager. (March 6 and March 14 were also good days for Busse, the Mercury's former managing editor. He picked up another $1,000 on each, and says he'll ultimately rake in $25,000 between now and the May 20 election.)
The big payday came just two days after Branam deposited $134,745 in public campaign funds, following certification as a "clean money" candidate.
From the size and timing of the check, it sure looks like Branam is paying Busse back for the hours he put in while the campaign was seeking public financing certification?a big no-no under the terms of the program, which limit pre-certification spending (or pledges to spend) the cash you've got in the bank from $5 to contributions and small seed-money donations. Branam and Busse, who's been managing the campaign since last fall, insist the prior work was strictly volunteer, and the check isn't back pay.
But if it's not a back payment, the big check looks even more ridiculous. With a three-month campaign, Busse's $25,000 works out to more than $8,000 a month?about twice what mayoral Campaign Manager Jennifer Yocom is pulling in for wrangling Sam Adams' campaign, and more than double what any other campaign manager in Branam's race is making, though they're all working with the same $150,000 public financing budget. (Three make between $3,250 and $3,500 a month.)
Branam explains the difference: "I believe in having people that are on my team that are willing to work their tails off, and Phil is doing that. This is compensation for his tremendous work that he has put in since we received public funding as well as what he's going to continue to do given his expansive role." In addition to managing the campaign, Busse's "expansive role" includes political consulting and writing copy for the website and political ads. And Branam touts Busse's expertise from running his own prior mayoral campaign. (The lump payment was for "efficiency," says Branam.)
Branam's intentions might be noble?that someone should be well paid "to work intensely for three months, 'round the clock, with no vacation time, no health care, no retirement benefits, none of that." But the city code on public financing isn't as generous. Campaign staffers are to be "compensated at fair market value"?which, if you ask around, is a lot less than eight grand a month.
Emilie Boyles sure felt her daughter was worth the $12,500 she paid her for "internet marketing," a move that, among others, led to her decertification as a publicly financed candidate in 2006.
As we went to press, no one had filed a complaint but the auditor's office will "likely look into it." Branam tells me that, were he "to do it all over again, would I have written a $15,000 check right off the bat? No, I wouldn't. It's a lesson learned." One that hopefully didn't also teach voters to be even more skeptical of public financing."
The continuing episode, Mr. Busse is still being paid $1,000 a week on top of his lump payment, makes a mockery out of the voter owned elections system that many of us support to try remove special interest money and influence from our local elections. The abuse of this system will end our efforts to try and remove corporate money for politics. This doesn?t sound anything like Barack Obama, this stinks of Dick Cheney and payments to his buddies at Halliburton.
Mr. Branam also claims to be a person to bring people together when in fact even before he ever thought of running for office he was passing out a book that comes from the opposite spectrum of thinking from Senator Barack Obama?s values.
Again according to the Willamette Week;
Mr. Branam passed out a book to his fellow co-workers written by a conservative journalist which places much of the blame of the failures of the African American community and their efforts to move forward, not on the government and conservatives who have failed them but on the community itself.
Watch this piece posted on ?the Nation? where the author of the book not only defends his inflammatory piece but also his relationship with the outrageous Bill O?Reilly and the ?Bush network? Fox News. Portland voters, think long and hard about this. Does this in any way reflect your core values?
Mr. Branam, I find it offensive that you would compare yourself to Senator Obama and his campaign. You have every right to run for public office but please stop manipulating the truth. You John Branam are no Barack
I appreciate Obama?s willingness to raise the topic, but I have to wonder if he really means to have a dialogue or if he means have white folks listen to everyone else and stifle ourselves when we see double standards?
My premise: America is on the brink of sinking into tribalism (and no, that isn?t an ethnic euphamism). Obama?s call for the conversation, if genuine, would be a great place to begin towards restarting the melting pot to make us a nation of equals. It is contrary to the divisive notion that if someone is like me they're ok regardless of the facts and if they aren?t, they're bad, again regardless of the facts. The uncertainty, as I see it, is that in the last several decades rhetoric like his has usually meant, ?listen to what my people have to say and either agree or shut up; any other response is discriminatory.?
America isn?t supposed to be about tribalism, it has taken us a long time to try to remove it. ?Political correctness? fights most modern attempts to start dialogue. I want a color-blind America, not a ?my color is above suspicion and therefore supreme? one. If communities don?t want to become a part of a greater whole, thinking they can have what they want without blending and bending, talking won?t really help; just look at Northern Ireland.
Let me define tribalism from a context that isn?t racially charged to show my point. If I say an unborn child should be protected, most of you here will think I?m a narrowminded person. If I try to describe why with a medical description of what happens, even though I can describe it accurately, then I?m being inconsiderate and emotional (God forbid I try to bring that up on a radio program as part of a discussion or dialogue). If someone disagrees and I challenge them, I?m not being sensitive, or worse, I?m a bigot. In other words, ?we?re right and don?t bother us with the facts unless they agree with us?... that?s what I mean as tribalism.
I can say it?s hypocrisy that let Ed Kennedy gets away with his 12 hours just because of the Irish political machine in Mass; most of you will have no problem with me saying that, my heritage is Irish-American and I know of which I speak (the Irish in Mass, I probably wouldn?t go near the Senator to save my life). That said, I don?t hear many in other ethnic communities who will stand up against their own either, no matter how much evidence there is. The Atlanta uproar last year over Michael Vic was a classic example, I didn?t have one black friend who was willing to talk about it who didn?t stand up for him. That means that either no one there wants to speak out against one of their group or they fear others within the group if they do.
If I see a criminal and affirm that he/she is guilty, should I care what his/her race is? But if he/she isn?t white, I?m a bigot. Why is that? If I see someone driving like a maniac and call him/her in, I?m being responsible, unless he/she is latino, black, asian, middle eastern, or first national... then I?m profiling or a bigot. Actually, even if it?s a white ?she?, I?m suspected of prejudice.
What I hear from this noise is ?shut up unless you have the politically correct answer? instead of ?the best way to resolve problems is work together.? Case in point: when Alan Keys runs for president, he isn?t considered an authentic voice (happens to be the last candidate I tried to actively support). But when I was honest and said I wouldn?t vote for Jesse Jackson because I don?t consider ?prochoice? to be anything I can reconcile with being an truthful pastor of the Gospel, I?m just a white bigot (was told that more than once by both blacks and liberal whites). Why is that? Is it any wonder that most whites won?t talk about race? The only ones I?ve heard who will are closet bigots who are liberals (been a few of them on your station as recently as today [Thursday]) or they actually are full blown bigots who use racial epithets almost as often as rappers do. I can?t stand either, by the way.
The discussion broadens. In addition to talking about superficiality, un-enlightened self-interest, beliefs about large collectives of people, and pre-conceived judgements about individuals in said collectives, we now are taking on peoples attachment/investment in belief packages. Hmmmmm....
We may be taking on too much.
Let me suggest that beliefs of any kind are a two edged sword. Without them people are adrift. With them people are refractory to discussion. When they consolidate in the political arena as packages of beliefs, they become like any other religion. In that sense the adherents are very tribal. I think that is what you were getting at? And yes, this is very frustrating. It is hard to have a discussion about beliefs when they are by their nature not up for discussion.
I would add one other observation about natural polarities that develop around difficult issues in society. When ever there are many shades of gray, the more you will have people who insist that things are either black or white. Most people can not stand uncertainty, and will selectively reinforce the side they most favor to avoid the discomfort of that uncertainty.
Abortion is one of those issues. War is another. What ever we do, or fail to do, someone is going to die. We don't like that reality so we change it in our own minds. Belief that is reinforced selectively to create an effective preponderance of evidence, is both how people create enough certitude to face the day, on the one hand, and contribute to political conflict, on the other.
And this is all assuming good will among the conflicting believers. Where there is some element of self-interest at work - and there usually is - beliefs and communities of believers become the prime recruiters for the other side in a polarity.
Humility can be in short supply.
There are clues that Barack Obama understands all this. He has shown remarkable skills at bringing people back together.
Yes, to two points:
1) Perhaps in trying to answer the original questions, I take on too much; and
2) at some point the similarities of a tribal mind-set with a strongly held belief are significant enough to be considered.
The relevant core of my rather late night rambling answer, however, is that dialogue requires that everyone have a say, even if that makes the powerful uncomfortable. Unlike the deep south where I spent my teen years, politically correct America as experienced here presumes that to be white is to be the bad guy. If Sen. Obama wants to lead a dialogue in America, he will have to show that he knows that that mindset must be overcome just as much as the bigoted white attitudes that so many (whites as well as blacks, latinos, first nationals, asians, etc.) have fought against.
Does that clarify my points, or just muddy the waters more?
Sorry, I was modifying my post while you were posting your. Kind of like phone tag.
I think I may have inadvertently addressed some of your points.
After seeing the complete video of Barack Obama's speech, I was deeply moved to hear the thoughtfulness and depth of feeling and concern expressed regarding an issue that affects us all throughout our society. We need honest dialogue. We need to look within and honor both who we truely are now as well as coming together to support an ongoing process that allows us to reveal and heal unexpressed sorrows & frustrations through open compassionate communication. He mentions the importance of taking full responsibility for our own lives. For taking action in supporting all of our children that in turn benefits of everyone.
As this quote from his speech highlights ~
"It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all American prosper."
"In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand - that we do unto others as we would hve them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well. "
I feel we owe it to ourselves, our communities and our collective future to rise to the challenge, raise our expectations and believe in the capacity we all have to make important contributions in partnership with each other for our better world.
There is a fundamental problem in the question you pose "What do we need to do in Oregon to move beyond any sort of racist past?"
This assumes that racism is a thing of the past. We will never get over the country's (and the state's) history of legalized racism until we understand its legacy: that is institutional racism. White folks like me have to say, yes, that slavery of Africans and genocide of native americans happened, yes, we recognize that people (Like Rev. Wright) are angry for a reason, yes I will be empathetic and work for tolerance. Until privileged white folks stop 1) denying real anger of others 2) stop feeling guilty, and 3) start having empathy, racism in the U.S. will continue to be alive and well.
It is so easy for liberal Portlanders to complain about others, about "the racist south", about the "racist past" instead of confronting it now, the way Mr. Obama tried to.
I think few people think slavery and genocide didn't happen (in the USA). There are privileged "folks" of all races. I think few people deny Wright has real anger. It doesn't mean it is justified or he shouldn't seek therapy to get over it, it isn't a justification for bigotry. I am very angry about a lot of issues, like this for instance, and sometimes I hate myself for it and it turns me into a monster - that doesn't give it validity.
There are lots of white "folks" in America that are recent immigrants, whose families had nothing to do with slavery, and are also very angry because they are getting tired of being labeled as racists by racist minorities.
The problem is the placing blame needs to stop somewhere. Because if you want blame we can go way back and talk about something few people talk about and discuss (because if they do they get labeled racist) Africans also had a large hand in slavery and sold slaves. Africans are also to blame for slavery. African Americans should be really angry about the genocide in Rwanda, arguably the most egregious act ever committed against the black race, by other black people. People should be screaming in the streets with anger about it, but they don't. I wonder why - maybe because there is no easy target to blame. The ironic stupidity of this is utterly overwhelming. I am not mentioning this as any type of justification for whites part in slavery or anything else, because it isn't, but people should perhaps be a little more self critical and show some objectivity with their anger.
As a rare minority in Oregon, born and raised in Hawaii I would say that yes, racism still exists in Oregon. Both ways, the Caucasian population discriminates against minorities and virtually all minorities discriminates against Whites.
Oddly, that isn?t the problem. The problem is until people let go of the anger that Rev. Wright displays and the white supremacists up in eastern Oregon and Idaho cling to we will continue to have these issues.
As for Obama?s speech ? it is pretty, flowery but not once at any point did it declare how Obama plans on bringing about this change he so often mentions in his sermons. He says he disagrees with Rev. Wright on this issue, but he credits the same man with bringing him into the Christian faith from his Islamic roots. He baptized his children, married him to his wife, but then states he fundamentally disagrees with his ideas? Sounds like politicking, no matter how flowery his delivery.
My bigger concern is the crowd gathered at the Memorial Coliseum right now, the atmosphere is more like a Billy Graham concert crossed with a music festival. The Obama campaign is a cult of personality, with no substance, no taking a stand on anything except he once spoke out against the Iraq war. This is truly scary, because he has displayed poor judgment, the one thing he is selling to the public. Rev. Wright and Rezko are excellent examples of this judgment.
Gov. Richardson is expected to announce his support of Obama today. If Obama would somehow win and become President, let?s see what position Richardson receives. No different than any other politician, which reinforces what is true and the Obama campaign has been desperately trying to convince America isn?t: Obama is just like all the other politicians, just will much less experience.
Obama doesn't disagree with Rev. Wright's core Christian beliefs. He says Wright's failure and the bitterness that results is believing that racism will be with us forever and not understanding our country's capacity to change. Obama is addressing how to change racism. Listen closely and he is saying it is up to each of us. its not coming from the top. when we have leadership that models how we can be our best, people are ready to follow.
I have to ask: How would you get 51% of the electorate to vote for you?
There is not anything of significance that that many people agree on. Why are we surprised that people running for office in this diverse, vast country have to pander at least a little to different interests. They demand it for their vote. That is not the politicians fault. It is ours, if we demand something narrowly self-interested for our vote.
I am more interested in how they deal with making the countless debates we need to have less polarized and more engaging of the diversity of perspectives we have in this country.
Had to register and spout out during this iteration of the program. Great show by the way.
I grew up in NE Portland, 70s and 80s, as a white male. Multi-generational and all that. And yes, I remember Harriet Tubman very well. As well as Elliot. And Fernwood. And Grant.
My Mother recently encountered my PE teacher from Fernwood way back when, and it's now almost entirely white. I was stunned when I heard this, as when I was growing up, none of us cared about race. We were kids and mixed. I still have lifelong friends of ALL races from those years. Portland has changed, and it's disturbing.
Another quick comment. My partner of ten years happens to be Afghan, and she is CONSTANTLY considered Hispanic. It's the strangest thing. Hispanic folks will speak Spanish to her while we're at the grocery store, etc. You can imagine how weird that is for a Reed College educated Pashtun.
Love the show and try to listen every morning. Thanks!
As a WASP (white anglo-saxon protestant), I am really appreciative of ethnic diversity. Without it, we wouldn't know the joy of burritos, sushi, electronics, rock & roll (rap, blues, jazz, soul, etc), even hamburgers!
It would be a pretty boring world living off of tea & crumpets....
I was very fortunate to have a life changing experience in the early '70s. I grew up in a small town in Oregon (there was one black family and quite a few Latinos)but I went to college in Pittsburgh. I had never been in such a large city, nor one that was so diverse. In my white niative, I got on the 'wrong' bus one morning because I was late for class. It went over The Hill, right through the Pittsburgh getto. Increasingly, I became aware that I was 'the other' and was not where I was wanted. It occured to me that I was just getting a little window on the every moment of every day experience of the other riders on the bus. That was the beginning of a decades long quest to understand the depth and breadth of racism that still trives in Oregon today. I will forever be grateful for that bus ride.
As a Caucasian American, I find it interesting how many minorities have come up to me making racist comments about people of other races. For example, I spent 2004-2006 living on Fort Bliss Army Base in El Paso, TX before returning home to Oregon, and I had to deal on a regular basis with local people of Mexican descent in El Paso complaining to me about the number of African American soldiers from the base. I found the Mexican population in El Paso to be among the most racially biased people against African Americans that I have ever met in my entire life both in America and abroad. They assumed that because I was Caucasian that I would accept their racist comments without offense. When I was in Chicago, I was exposed to a broader spectrum of the Hispanic population, and I did not see this level of prejudice against African Americans, but among the Hispanic population that I met in El Paso it was profound. Having now returned to Oregon (specifically Portland), I've found that the Hispanics that I have met in our region of Mexican descent are as equally prejudiced as those I met in El Paso while those of a Caribbean background are not prejudiced. I think that this was evident in the Texas primary when so many Texans of Mexican descent refused to vote for Obama for being of African descent. Yet, these same Mexican Americans / Mexican immigrants expect and demand respect for their heritage and racial background. I really think this hypocrisy needs to be addressed when discussing race. White America has progressed in its treatment of non-whites, however the large influx of minorities from Mexico has been contributing to racial tensions in America in my opinion due to their prejudice against non-Hispanics.
The Ku Klux Klan was very big and influential in Oregon and Oregon is still very Conservative, rightwingers using fear and hate mongering to keep people divided.
Education, education, education is the best answer.
As I am listening to the show right now, I agree with everything people have said so far. Of course racism exists on oregon Every single one of us is racist. Whether or not we are each, personally racist is NOT the question. The question is: Are we each, individually and personally going to take responsibility for our biases and racism? Are we each wiling to question ourselves and recognize our own biases and do our own personal work around them whatever they may be (race, homophobia, sexism, etc).
However, one very important fact has yet gone unsaid in this conversation. Racism affects WHITE people, too. I am white, and a woman. Racism affects me. Racism has affected me personally in that I was raised in a culture that told me I was somehow more entitled to services,more entitled to an identity as "American," more entitled to a good education, BECAUSE of my white race. Racism has affected me in that it has allowed me to NOT see and NOT hear the reality of people that do not look like me.
And this is NOT about feeling guilty (though this may be a necessary step that many people have to experience to get through the process of racial identity development), but it is about recognizing a painful truth about our culture and ourselves and learning how to become white allies and support each other (learn how to support, truly, people of color and more importantly, learn how to support and educate ourselves as white people regarding the privileges of the color of our skin and how we can each personally change this reality.
This is such a large discussion, and I am very grateful that the country is finally starting to have an honest discussion about these issues. Much thanks to Barack Obama for his incredible and honest speech on this issue.
As a tan skinned, brown haired, brown eyed male, with the last name Sanchez, I often get asked by patients, "where are you from?" My standard response is "I'm born and raised an Oregonian, but my heritage is apache indian and hispanic, how about you?" Maria Rodriguez-Salazar should not be so sensitive to being asked, but rather should take the opprotunity to educate and offer a perspective of themselves that may inform the inquirery. I often find that non-colored persons ask because they simply want to know.
I was a bit taken back by the guest be offended by anyone asking about her heritage also. Such occasions are perfect chance to educate those around us.
This woman is crazy, "You wouldn't ask a white person what their nationality was..." This is false. This is a common question even among white people: is your family from Ireland, Russia, Germany, etc. These questions are COMMON PLACE. She obviously has a chip on her shoulder.
I had the same reaction. We had a discussion at the office Monday, (St. Patric's Day) about who was Irish. Curiousity is not an attack.
The host said that, "in his speech, Obama said that segregation often happens in churches and barber shops."
That is simply NOT TRUE. What he said was:
"For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table...And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews."
The expression of anger over mistreatment and racism IS NOT the same thing as segregation.
The difference is important.
As a "journalist," your host should be careful to report the actual news, not her interpretation (spin?) of the news.
Hi dmbrown, you're right, that was not an accurate quote and I wasn't reading from the speech. I meant to say that the way different groups show their anger can be segregated.
It's an important difference, and thanks for catching it.
As a person of mixed race I ask white people all the time what their mix is. So I don't think that it is an insult to ask someone what their ethnicity is. It helps everyone to see that most of us are mixed.
Race is still an issue and I think that it is incumbent upon other races to include people in their racial celebrations so that more people can experience what they have to offer. The sooner we can celebrate one another and our differences the sooner we will leave the negativity of racism behind us.
I took a trip to Costa Rica and I remember seeing people of all races mixing with one another with absolutely no judgement. Someone could be called negra or blancha but it was as a casual observation like saying someone had brown eyes or green eyes. When I asked our tourguide if people would be offended to be called negra he said no. We are all costa ricans and love one another. A person's skin color does not mean that someone is better or worse than someone else.
As a white woman I experience racism as a personal wound. The racism that my black, asian and hispanic neighbors suffer needs to be addressed because if they are not well how can I be well!! Thank God that Barak is talking about race. He helps us talk about it and as Judith Mowry and your caller Edmond stated, by getting together and listening to each other, we can heal.
I am white and my husband is Hispanic, but on at least two occasions in the past three years, he has had people tell him that he looks like Saddam Hussein! Plus we have experienced the occasional anti-Hispanic comment. It is very strange that in both these cases the people who made the remarks did so right to his face, as if they didn't think it would affect him.
Wish I could hear the rest of the discussion, but I've had to go in to work. In my workplace, I can hear any of the following languagues, on any given day: English, Hebrew, Vietnamese, a couple different dialects of Chinese, several Indian languages, and Spanish. Perhaps it is the fact that it's a work situation, where we have to work together and so people set aside prejudicial feelings, but in nearly twenty years with my company I've never felt it was a racist environment.
Thanks for providing a forum where we can share our experiences and begin this kind of discussion. I agree with many of the other posters, as well as Senator Obama, that the only way we will ever get past racism in our society is to recognize that it has happened and is happening. Only then can we start talking and working on it.
My sister was married to a black american when the OJ event happened. I was not able to talk to my sister about that issue, ever. I think the most important thing is figuring out how to talk about race, and Obama is leading the way for us in that and I am grateful. OSU Office of Diversity is also putting together a series of short films in which they ask the University community about which race and cultural groups they identify with and what that means in this society. It's a great way to start the conversation for people who are interested.
Allison Frost, Managing Editor/OPB News here. I'm posting this on behalf of our former boss, Pres. and CEO Maynard Orme who is listening to this great show. He's not by a computer, so he asked me to tell you about 15 years ago OPB produced a great TV doc called "Local Color: the history of racism in Portland." We've aired in many times over the years and it could be time, he suggests, for another airing. I just spoke to Program Manager Mary Gardner and she'll be taking another (fresh) look at it after hearing Orme's comments. She also tells me the doc is being used in Portland Public Schools.
Sunshine is the best disinfectant.
As a person of a mixed race background, I don't mind if people ask what my background is. I'm interested in others backgrounds as well. What bothers me is when people approach me and before they even say hello they ask if I speak English. The assumption that someone must be foreign because of their skin color seems a bit racist (on an unconscious level) to me.
It seems to me that it is common for people to use the terms "race" and "culture" interchangeably. The two are very different. I can't agree more that it is offensive when friends, colleagues, or acquaintances want to use their association with a particular person they perceive to be "different" based on appearance as a way to demonstrate what they consider to be support of "cultural diversity." For many of us who are bi-racial or multi-racial, we are not culturally different from others in our community because we were raised in the same social/cultural environment that defines our shared "culture."
I would like to point out that white people can and are ethnic. They are than just American. There are recent immigrants from white countries who experience racism
I am so grateful to Sen. Obama for speaking to us Americans as if we have brains in our heads--he tells the truth and he's not afraid of the really difficult problems. I am a white 60 year old female with white hair, and I experience racial profiling in this way: I'm practically invisible. I feel like I could walk into Macy's and steal them blind and someone would hold the door open for me! Let's all be honest with each other: we judge books by their covers!
Racism and prejudice are continuing problems in Oregon and America, but today's guests have made some broad FALSE generalizations that discredit the true and valid points made. For example, saying that White people are NEVER asked about their nationality, saying that there are NO people of color who are on television news programs as hosts or behind the scenes in production, etc. These statements are boldly false, and these lies completely discredit the legitimate statements on racism that she does make.
Racism is a socially trained response, and it will continue to exist as long as this system of thinking is taught to a child by a parent.
However, this system of thinking can be revised. I feel that I am an example of this, as I came out of a racist family and was able to recognize this and step through it to be accepting of all people.
I think that we are, slowly but surely, weeding this harmful & hateful system of thinking out of our culture. I think we can see this in part in the way that racism has moved from being socially acceptable (in the American society at large) in the early part of the 20th century to becoming less acceptable as the 20th century progressed.
Sadly, this is a very slow process of un-teaching fear & distrust. But I am hopeful that we will continue to push this further to the fringes of acceptability to a point that it will not be a dominating issue.
... I think we have quite a ways to go on this, however. I am optimistic that we will get there ... some day.
The only way to really eliminate racism - that gut reation you get when you see someone of a certain race - is for people to get to know each other across racial boundries. I was a Teach for America teacher on the Texas-Mexico border and all of my students were Mexican-American. Coming from a predominantly white community in Massachusetts and then Oregon, I was worried that I would find I was racist against my students since I had so little experience interacting across racial boundries. Instead, they quickly became just my students, not my Mexican-American students. I really believe that this change happened just as a result of all of us getting to know each other and needing to depend on each other in order to make the classroom work.
I am an African-American professional who teaches at PSU. I am originally from Portland, but have lived in cities that have a majority of blacks i.e. Chicago and Dallas. I am also very well traveled and lived abroad for several years.
Upon my return to Portland in 2000 after having been gone for 20 years after college...I could not wait to leave because I knew that there was more to being black than what was presented here in Portland.
Upon my return, I did find that Portland has made some progress. However, there is still this veneer of not being racist until the topic comes up. I think it is easy for white people in Portland to say they are not racist because there is not much of a challenge in terms of the numbers. I experience things like: Who do you feel are the black leaders of today. To which I respond, I will answer that when you tell me who you believe the white leaders are. I also have white people ask me that since blacks can call themselves the 'N" word so why can't everyone else use it? My response is always why do you want to use it. Once I get a "real" answer to that question I will provide a response. So far this has not happened. I also have white people say that they forget that I am a black man because we get along so well. All of these statements and situations, in my opinion, speaks volumes of the lack of sensitivity. It is also amazing to me that an urban university such as PSU has such a low number of minorities enrolled, in particular the school of business.
I completely agree. I consider the 'urban planning' noise, now going down in the Pearl District, to be a causal factor that has tipped the scale. Couple that with a lot, trust me, of wealthy imported folks from all over the country that are fleeing various single-minded regional issues regarding race, and we wind up with gentrification.
Heck, I grew up in Sullivan's Gulch, poor, and now the place is condos and 700k homes inside of a circle of condos and town homes.
I bet you miss Lloyd Center being 'open air', too.
Welcome back. Please stay. You're not alone, no matter your race - have fun making PSU more cognizant. :)
Gentrification is a nice term for "bigotry towards rich white people." It is so overused and it's intended meaning is so racist. Rich people and poor people equally suck.
How dare these folks invest in economically blighted areas of town! Urban renewal is genocide!
First of all, I am a black woman who supports Hillary Clinton, but if Hillary hadn't had come first I would definitely support Obama. I like Obama and all he has to say. The speech he gave on race was very well done. He was very careful not to just blame one side or condemn one side.
I grew up in Oregon and it is a very racist state. It was never more clear on how racist until I left Oregon and lived in places like Seattle and Chicago. In my younger years it was very hard for me to break into my current industry and get hired on, but as soon as I stepped into Washington I had way more opportunities open up to me, and I found the same thing happened in the Midwest.
I think that in Oregon people have stereotypes that have been planted in their heads that they just can't seem to change. there has been a change since I was younger, but I think that has come from the influx of people moving here (i.e. Californians, Midwesterners, and east coasters).
So many times people forget that we are all looking for the same thing. We all want to have the ability to take care of our family, be treated with respect, and be able to keep our dignity as much as possible. These things don't change according to race or religion or geographical location.
This whole question is an issue of intercultural competence. We, all of us, need education and training on cross-cultural 'navigation'. This is applicable to race issues within our own country, and to our country's relationship with other nations in the world. This is an essential piece of life learning that most Americans are missing, with dire consequences.
The main theme in this discussion is "everybody's guilty," but I don't see that kind of balance in the racism problem. Racial breakdowns of impoverished or imprisoned Americans are wa-a-a-ay too out of balance to say that racism affects all Americans equally. The war on drugs, Hurricane Katrina, and the disproportionate number of blacks and other minorities hurt in the subprime meltdown also illustrate the problem. Sure those individuals are all responsible for their own actions, but how do you explain that blacks and other minorities are always disproportionately affected by poverty, ignorance, and violence? Is it because they just "can't get over it"?
The reaction to Rev. Wright's speech is a nightmare illustration of the mistrust between white and black culture (and some white and black individuals) that still exists in America. I think most of what Wright said is absolutely true! But the media's reaction to his words show that white people are also too sensitive about racism. As a white person, I admit that I'm very paranoid about looking or seeming racist around black people.
For whites, racism feels like Original Sin, something no one is personally responsible for, but for which everyone still feels a need for forgiveness. I don't want to stretch the simile too far, but electing Obama could act as a baptism for our culture, accomplishing through symbolism what no amount of cultural education and diversity training can.
This logic doesn't work. There has been absolutely nothing to support that race had something to do with the response to Katrina. How in the world do you know that the "poverty, ignorance and violence" of or by minorities is due to racism? Perhaps minorities in all countries statistically fall into these categories? Maybe Jewish people on average have a lot of money in the USA - have they been given the upper-hand? Maybe there is something intrinsic to minority culture that fosters this? Who knows. But for people to always assume someone else is to blame is absurd. What about poverty all over the world in places that aren't so mixed racially, who is to blame for that, is it the culture? Maybe. Maybe not.
The discussion on Think Out Loud today reminded me of how inflamitory the term "racism" can be.
To some, a racist is anyone who benefits from being part of the racial majority.
To others, a racist is someone in a white hood who participates in lynchigs and cross-burnings.
It is hard to communicate when such different interpretations are held.
I heard one woman on the discussion cite that the disproportional representation of persons of color in prison was evidence of racism. Yet the disproportional representation of males in prison is never cited as evidence of sexism. We need a more detailed examinaton of factors of that influence the unequal application of "justice" to effectively address inequities and to positively influence factors that contribute to criminal behavior.
Perhaps the best way to counter racism is to do something else.
This whole hour has reminded me of the phenomenal time-waster I experienced in the person of a black woman who came to work in a high-tech company.
She seemed to think that we all wanted to talk all day about race in America instead of creating systems.
It fell upon the non-token black guy (he was the uber-manager) to try to get her to focus on the job. He failed, and wound up removing her. Opportunity lost.
Anybody who is interesting has something to talk about besides the job. People who are completely predictable are boring, regardless of what their single topic is.
I don't think we're patient enough to wait the 1000 or so years it will take for intermarriage to make us all the same color. People talk about it because they want equality and forgiveness for themselves or at least their children.
Asking someone what nationality they are or where they came from is not necessary triggered by the apparent race of the person as Mrs. Rodriguez-Salazar suggested. It is sometimes based on "we v. them" attitude. It may well be prejudicial but not necessary racist. I am white and liver in the US for 27 years of my 50 years. I went to college and law school in the United States. However very often I am asked the same question once I open my mouth and someone hears my accent. I know that other people with accent experience the same treatment. It is quite uncomfortable to answer question "what is your nationality" after living here for 27 years and being American citizen for 22 years. Yet, people tend to associate with people of the same culture, language, education, and ethnic background. Less educated and insecure people are more likely to distrust people different than themselves. Therefore, anytime someone hears or notices something different about other person, it may trigger attitude of distrust or feeling superior, and such a attitude manifest itself by inquiring into other person's personal life. Unfortunately, it happens more often in Oregon than such "melting pots" as LA or Chicago.
For sake of discussion, I'm a young white man, and I need an answer to a question of mine. And since we're in such an open-minded mood, I thought I'd toss it out and see what comes back. This is a question which I'd be afraid to ask someone in person, but thru the anonymity of the internet, I feel I can truly get an honest answer, without that look of disgust that may (or may not) accompany such a query.
Do those of you who are "people of color" take offense at the phrase "people of color"?
I mean, when I hear the phrase used, all I hear is "We have white people, and we have everyone else". Even as a white person, I find the term to be offensive. Its an antique of the pre-civil rights era, when some white politician was attempting to be sensitive to racial minorities, which I think no longer applies. I feel that it not only puts down anyone who's not white, but it also -in this day and age- excludes white people from being part of a larger community. Truly a double-edged sword, in my opinion.
And, not to be trite, but white is still a color... Should we retire the phrase?
Sadly, I'm caucasian, but my life partner isn't. Nor are many of my friends. And I guarantee you that they don't care. It's about education and exposure. If a person says such a phrase when interacting with a stranger, it's smiles and a nod.
I'm near Columbia Village, and I remember the Villa, and there's zero problem until people start actually physically behaving in a 'racist' fashion. Words are just tools, as they always have been.
Call yourself pink and see how many smiles you get. *nod*
Where is Caucasia?
The Caucasus Mountains are in southern Russia and Georgia.
There are people who live there, as there have been for thousands of years.
It's as compelling to call pink people "Caucasian" or "white" as it is to
call Aboriginal Americans "Indians",
or the light-brown people of mixed heritage "black".
That is, the words fail to make sense for almost all of us.
How about a solution based on measurement:
when the color of a person matters, take a photo of the middle of their back
with the skin perpendicular to the unclouded sun,
adn report the RBG value of the color thus recorded.
I don't intend to measure my friends this way, although
I might shoot a photo if they are doing something interesting.
First - knowing this will make almost anything I say be pre-judged and disregarded.... this one time on line I will state, I am pink and 54 years old with cancer. Now - that said (pardon for any politically incorrect terms of speech):
I grew up in the 60's and remember when there was a white section of town and a black section - just as there were white schools and black schools. I also grew up with the 'rich folks' schools and the 'poor folks' schools. Rich folk didn't mingle with anyone but other rich folk - us poor folk mingled with everyone. There was only one high school, and the rich folk still kept to themselves so they could look down on the rest of us.
My father did his best to make sure none of us grew up bigoted, nor did we use negative slang for another race/color despite his prejudices. To him I am grateful, but it has made my life harder. You see - I didn't use to see color when I conversed with a person - I saw a person. Some were idiots, some were severly racist and most were ok, all of this is found in all shades of human skin.
I am saddened that society will no longer let me accept people for who they are. To be 'politically correct', I cannot converse with another person of a different skin-tone without now being forced to monitor my speech for fear of offending. What I would say to someone my age or skin tone is, according to your guests, not suitable to say to them. How sad I have to ignore their humanity to focus on colors first. :(
Ms. Salazar has a deep seated problem she needs to work on herself. I will ask people where they're from - pfft, I get asked it all the time due to still having a Texas accent! I don't consider it rude, nor do I take offense as often I find people are from the same state or nearby states. This gives us a commmonality we can talk about. Maybe it's just small town attitude. In fact....... us 'white folk and poor folk' do it all the time! It has never occurred to me someone would be ashamed of their background and consider it rude. Feel free to ask me anytime where I'm from and how I wound up in Oregon - I'll cheerfully tell you. And I've had some fantastic conversations with many people from other countries - each proud to say "I'm from Nigeria, I'm from Brazil, I'm from England.... I'm from Minnesota." Interesting though - most people prefer to admit they aren't from Oregon..... while Native-Oregonians are apologetic. Go figure.
In the 60's and 70's I believe we were less racist than we are now - because we looked at humanity, not color. You want to see something that really upsets me - live in a small town with a Native American population. The attitudes are horrendous, and you'll find any other race/skin tone perfectly accepted.... but them. And yes, I have stated my offense to others, black/white/brown for they're attitudes, speech and comments made about the Native Americans. I will stand up for any human who is spoken ill of based on any reason but the fact they have earned it - even the French and English! Ok - I will admit to talking ill of the child molesters the rest of the state dumps in our isolated town. Gee thanks - just what we wanted.
By the way, my best friends are on-line and from many countries since they are more open-minded about life. We always ask each other where we're from, and discuss our upbringing, our culture and I'm doing my best to learn Slovenian thanks to an internet friend. Just don't dare confuse him with Slovakian. You see........... it's world wide.
Now, if I meet you, and we find a commonality (maybe I like your tattoo) steel yourself for compliments and good old fashioned getting to know each other. If you can't handle someone being friendly - just tell me.......... I'm sure I'll find a way to be rude.
Bottom line - it's sad that Senator Obama felt he had to make a statement, but his eloquance has always impressed me. At least he's a breath of fresh air and not a Bushette like Senator Clinton - who will do anything to win. I'm an independant who thought Kucinich was purposely ignored by the media because he truly stood up for the American People. I was going to sit out the elections this year (if I'm still alive) but think I'll cast my vote for a man who has shown leadership, eloquance and a determination to hold to his values. Now That - I can vote for and appreciate. You don't get my vote based on gender/color or party affiliation. You get my vote by showing me you can uphold your own inner values and inner humanity without 'sucking up' to the media and the lobbyists.
One word for Senator Obama that shows how I feel? He has HONOR.
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