How Oregon’s Racist History Can Sharpen Our Sense of Justice Right Now
Portland Monthly Magazine
Writer Walidah Imarisha on eight years of talking about the brutal history of race in Oregon.
Name a small town in Oregon. I have most likely been there, talking about race.
For the past eight years, starting as part of Oregon Humanities’ Conversation Project, I’ve stood in front of thousands of attendees in packed libraries, community centers, senior homes, college campuses, and prisons.
I’ve seen it all: multiple people arguing the Ku Klux Klan was and remains a “civic organization,” chiding me for focusing solely on the “negatives” while adamantly denying they support racism or are themselves racist. I’ve received death threats and seen physical disruptions from white supremacists in Oregon towns large and small. And in my travels, I’ve used history as an organizing catalyst, and worked with social justice groups for positive change, from city hall resolutions to curriculum overhauls to ballot measures.
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“How Oregon’s Racist History Can Sharpen our Sense of Justice Right Now.” Portland Monthly Magazine, March 2020.