Portland, OR: A Tale of Two Cities

Portland: Welcome to America's Bicycle Capital

Portland is a city that some residents praise as a kind of eden: full of bike paths, independently-owned small businesses, great public transportation and abundant microbreweries and coffeeshops. And then there’s a whole other city. It’s the city where whole stretches of busy road are missing sidewalks, and you can see folks in wheelchairs rolling themselves down the street right next to traffic. It’s the city where some longtime African American residents feel as if decades of institutional racism still have not been fully addressed.  In this episode of SOTRU, we spend time in both Portlands: the paradise, and what could be called… the purgatory.


Episode Music

Q-TipDo You Dig U
The PharcydeDevil Music-Instrumental
Fleetwood MacTusk
The Octopus ProjectI Saw the Bright Shinies
DoshO Mexico
B. FleischmannComposure
The PharcydeOtha Fish-Instrumental
Wendel PatrickMy CD Has a Scratch
KatalystTime Bomb
Wu Tang Meets the Indie CultureSlow Burn
Wendel PatrickRun Time Error
KatalystWhose Reality
Tommy GuerreroAbierto
The Octopus ProjectBruises
Daft PunkMake Love
Tommy GuerreroBlue Masses
Tommy GuerreroIt Gets Heavy
BonoboWayward Bob
Wu Tang Meets the Indie CultureThink Differently
People Under the StairsFly Love Song
Wendel PatrickJay
TalkdemonicTides in their Grave
KatalystRace Against Time
Washed OutFeel It All Around (“Portlandia” Theme Song)
  • Dan

    PDX transplant here. I have lived in Portland 9 years and counting. With two lovely children born in Portland I count myself as being home. I loved the episode but found it oddly and somewhat forcefully polarizing. For example, one interview that hit a strong cord in which a black community member was incensed with a neighbor of 3 years never introducing herself. Yet, no self analysis or commentary on why that community member never reached across and introduce herself in the first place. Instead, the commentary focused on how different racial norms are at play. HUH?, if I move into a neighborhood I say hello to everyone I can, if someone moves into my neighborhood, I reach out to welcome them to the area. It’s a two-way street, right!? I’m white and never thought saying hello is a racial issue, more likely a personal, introvert vs. extrovert, issue.

    Likewise, on bicycling, how many bicyclists don’t drive a car also? Few. The media constantly makes it out to be one side vs. the other. I bike and drive, and there are dumb #@S riding and driving, big shocker. The majority of us care about both in respect to our local and regional community. Heck, it’s a national and international issue. Barbur Blvd., Powell Blvd, and many more greatly need attention, but is it a conflict of priorities? Not necessarily. We have the capacity to address both and they should involve some spirited debate, that’s a great thing, not negative.

    Logic isn’t always catchy and dramatic, but it belongs in the conversation. I live in a North Portland “New Urbanist” community, embracing socio-economic blends. I love that myself and my family interacts with African Americans, Hispanics, migrant Africans, migrant East Europeans, etc. Is it always rosy in the area? Nope. Sure, we will always need to address our differences, but it will take a great deal of education for every generation, including my young kiddos. It’s certainly evolutionary, and doesn’t need to be revolutionary.

    Thoughts? Reach me personally, I’d be happy to say hello and learn about you and your perspective. Seriously, Thanks for bringing these issues forward! Let’s also look for people that can see the middle ground. Cheers!

    • Robin Witt

      Hi Dan!

      I can certainly understand your perspective! Why wouldn’t someone just say hello to a new neighbor? However, it is not that simple when you add in the generations of racial mistrust that has been perpetuated throughout American history. And it certainly is not people’s of color responsibility to ingratiate white folks who are moving into their neighborhood. Gentrification also means that those people of color that you are so proud to associate with in your neighborhood may have to move out when prices shoot up as they inevitably do when affluent whites begin moving into a neighborhood. I am from Venice Beach California, so I have already experienced this.

      This is what it’s like from my perspective.

      I will admit now that my family and I are new to Portland. Yes, we had to flee Los Angeles because we could no longer afford to live in an adequate space for my mother, daughter and me in a safe neighborhood. Now we live in the NE in the Roseway neighborhood and I am so happy that I live where there are trees on the sidewalks and the kids on the block all play “Zombie Tag” in my yard. I can ride my bike to Brickhouse Pizza and Fire on the Mountain. I’ve taken the most breathtaking hikes ever in my entire life out here. I love diy projects and jug bands and concerts in the park. That is why we came here! We wanted to be a part of all this.

      Oh, but here is the challenge. I am a single mom and women of color. So is my mother. She is from the Philippines. My father is white. I am a grad student with a year left to go. My mom should be retired but our budget does not allow it right now. We pool our resources so that we can thrive. Without my mom’s help I would not be able to stay afloat while going to school.

      My mother has been an RN for over 20 years. She can’t find a job here. Every nurse I’ve ever seen here is white. Non profit organizations, educational institutions, all higher paid jobs are all taken by white people. My mom was told that her accent was too thick to talk to people on the phone by an employer here. She has been speaking English much longer than I have been alive.

      I read that white people here make 5 times more income than people of color. That is very evident when one is walking down the street, or driving west from East of the 205.

      My mom fills out about 15 apps a week, volunteers at the food bank and will soon be volunteering at a free medical clinic. Since no one will seem to hire her as a nurse, she applied to Trader Joe’s, Safeway and Fred Meyer last week, and is applying to Walmart next week. She is 67 years old and has issues with her knee that requires her to wear a brace.

      I notice that many non profits and government agencies that exist to “help” disenfranchised people here consist of mainly all white people with class and ableist privilege when their target populations are poor people, people of color, and people with disabilities. If they really wanted to help communities of color and low socio economic status, then maybe they should hire us!

      Now my student loans and part time job along with my mom’s social security is not cutting it. My mom wants to move east where it is cheaper. That means no sidewalks with pretty trees and gardens, food carts, lush parks and cool bars. It means my kid will probably no longer be able to play outside on the street with the other kids, and I won’t be able to have garden ornaments outside my front door without them being stolen. It means no big yard for our family dog—-maybe even no family dog if we have to move into an apartment. So even though I am in Portland, the Portland that I want to be a part of is too expensive and out of my reach. So we will be exiled to Gresham or whatever. Maybe when I am done with school and an employer will accept me we will be able to come back.

      Actually no. I REFUSE to be excluded! I’ll do whatever it takes.

    • swt

      Very well done, thank you for putting all these perspectives together. I have never been to portland but it’s come to represent everything that the creative economy/new urbanism/post-capitalist mentality wants to be. It’s actually refreshing to be reminded that even mecca has history and struggles with inclusivity like the rest of us, whether we choose to see it or not.

      In response to Dan, though I still consider myself an aspiring anti-racist activist-in-training, just be sure to keep in mind your biases when considering what is and is not a racial issue. Usually, the fact that you can choose to dismiss something as ‘non-racial’ points to some form of privilege. You may not be wrong about the introvert vs. extrovert, but that also may not be everyone’s experience. Yes we can only control what we think of others and not how they think of us, but history is a powerful mediator in interpreting such interactions. As a white person, you’ll be a more effective anti-racist once you acknowledge that and use the information to influence your interactions (or interpretations of interactions) with non-white people. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and being open to conversation!

      • Dan

        Hey there, sorry, stepped away from the conversation unintentionally. That is, right after welcoming your feedback, 😉 my bad. Thanks for kicking some thoughts back!

        I hear you and dig the spirit of your approach. That said, I provided the extro vs. intro as a single example of an alternate perspective, in which the podcast provided none. My concern with the podcast had to do with not garnering exactly what you are advocating with me, “keep in mind your biases when considering what is and is not a racial issue.” I feel it is not dismissive to suggest that an article only approached the issue as divisive and single sided. My point, is your point directed at the podcast, possibly poorly articulated on my part.

        For myself, prejudice was experiencing being born with red hair, growing up in Canada in a largely asian community, then moving to mid-west Kansas at around age 12. Seriously stigmatized as a foreigner from several races, Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites. Everyone else thinks red hair is funny, I do not. But, I have learned drawing lines only pointing out the differences will make it harder to find the commonalities.

        In other words, it is not accurate to suggest I must be a person of color to understand that perspective. Indeed, we all have biases, but that does not mean we have not experienced similar prejudice. If anything, history has proven bridges will only be built through finding common ground. I advocate learning from all of history, but never allow yourself to be mired in it. Gandhi nailed it, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”


      • Lena

        I agree with Dan here. The piece on racial divide absolutely perplexed me. To paint the Portland of today as having some kind of racial tensions using those specific stories that were presented seemed ridiculous. Yes, Portland has a very racist past, but the piece seemed like it was very forcefully trying to spin the stories in making Portland out to be racially divided today.

        I’ve moved to two different neighborhoods in Portland. In both instances, my surrounding neighbors came and welcomed me to the neighborhood. And, that’s the norm no matter what town you’re in. No one would expect a new neighbor to go around knocking on everyone’s door introducing themselves.

        It really should have been the African American lady that went over and introduced herself to the new white neighbor when she moved into her neighborhood 3 years ago. At least the white lady knew who the African American lady was. The African American lady admittedly had no clue it was her neighbor after living across the street from her for 3 years!

        My partner and I are gay, and it’s pretty obvious to any observer. If a new neighbor moved into my neighborhood, and they weren’t the first to introduce themselves to me, I wouldn’t sit home and think “woe, is me” it must be because I’m gay. I’d go over and introduce myself.

        Gentrification is not an issue about racial insensitivity. It’s about wealth. I lived in San Francisco for almost 20 years. I watched as the city went from affordable to insanely expensive. The poor and middle class of all races moved out in droves during the early dot com boom.

        Today, the Asian population in San Francisco is exploding. Asians are slowly pricing out every race in the city as investors from China snatch up housing. The Chinese move there because San Francisco has such a large thriving Asian culture and community, and they have the money to do it. Neighborhoods that were once predominantly Russian and Irish have changed completely. The Irish pubs, Catholic churches and Russian businesses have been slowly replaced with Chinese businesses. Irish and Russian families that had lived in these neighborhoods for generations have been priced out. For good or bad, this is how Capitalism works.

        Portland is known for it’s craft beer, coffee, biking, outdoor sports and indie rock music scene. So, the city is going to attract a certain subset of people who like those things as well. I don’t understand how that translates to the people that are moving here somehow being racially insensitive simply because they’re moving into what used to be predominantly African American neighborhoods.

        The issues with the cyclists seemed like a reach as well. I’d flip off that lady too if she sped up to go around me and cut me off, and I don’t even cycle. For the most part, Portlanders are pretty conscientious and courteous drivers. We don’t try to beat one another to the stop sign or speed around other drivers whether on bike or in a car. It was obvious the motorist realized she was going to elicit a response from the cyclist when she said “watch this” to the interviewer. So, why deliberately provoke someone?

        It would have been nice to hear the opposite sides of these arguments or another perspective. As Dan put it, it did indeed seem very polarizing.

        • Baloo Uriza

          Want to know how I know you don’t understand Portland? I mean, have you ever lived there and actually made it outside your socioeconomic group and racial identity? Because it really, really sounds like you’ve been painfully insulated from reality.

        • momoffour

          Portland itself is racially polarizing and the new person is the one who should say hello- that’s how it used to be. By the time you moved here things were already laid out for you so of course you don’t see the problems. It is very very damn hard to be of color here both statistically and anecdotally. And are you really blaming Asians for pricing you out of SanFran? Great job.

    • deserthackberry

      As an Arizonan — not a person of color — comments from transplants like, “With two lovely children born in [fill in the blank] I count myself as being home”, are what really rankle. In one small town on the outskirts of Phoenix, the local government, which has been completely taken over by snowbirds (many of whom used to consider themselves “Californians”), commonly makes references to “our town” and “our hometown”. That town had a significant Hispanic population before the invasion, but it’s not a race issue. Every town outside the reservations, big or small, has been invaded by people who call themselves “semi-natives” after some, usually short, period of time.

      • Baloo Uriza

        That really hits me the wrong way, too. As I see it, you can claim to be native to that place if 1) you were born there, or 2) you’re indian on your tribe’s rez. Portland really suffers from that at this point; especially since just about everyone who was born there who has the means to gets out as soon as they realize that Portland’s practically a rust-belt Montomery, Alabama.

        • Karim Delgado

          So you’re fine with people moving and living here so long as they maintain a general feeling of displacement?

          You talk about the rampant xenophobia here two posts up, and then participate in it yourself? Talk about hypocritical.

          The other day, some folks saw my Florida license plates (I was born in Miami) and laughed at each other, “Ugh, these people should go back where they came from!” They hadn’t realized I was sitting in my parked car. I lowered my window and asked them if, as two white men telling a brown man to “go back home,” if they understood just how ignorant they sounded.

          I’ve lived in New York for seven years. When I moved here, I thought, wow, this is a beautiful place. But the more I’ve lingered, the uglier I’ve found some of the natives, whom I’ve come to describe as pseudo-progressives with small town minds. These pierced and ironic leftists who want everyone to be equal, but to be equal somewhere else, are the bannermen in your town’s histrionic legacy of exclusion. At least in New York, we welcome diversity, recognizing it breeds progress and mitigates the sort of intellectual incest your region instead trends toward.

          Rest easy, this is no home for me.

          • Baloo Uriza

            I think you’re missing the point of what it means to be native to some place. You’re a native to Miami, nobody can take that away from you. I’m a native to Portland, and I can’t give it up. It’s so closely tied to identity it’s printed on passports and birth certificates.

          • Karim Delgado

            You don’t have to be a native to a place to call it home. And home is about more than just the place you were born in.

    • Baloo Uriza

      Have you ever tried living in Portland as a minority? Keep in mind, we’re talking about a _very_ xenophobic city with a deep and current history of active racism and homophobia, and a major key city in the Mormon church, the Skinhead movement and the Aryan Nation. I’m bisexual and a Cherokee. Having spent all but the last 3 years of my life here, gotta say you don’t _want_ to reach out because there’s a _very_ good chance the other guy, no matter how benign they might look, has a scorching case of the bigots. You learn to meet people on a common ground with a clear path to the exit. Even then, try getting attacked from behind on the Blue Line MAX on the westside for holding hands with your boyfriend. Try having someone just walk up to you and punch you in the head just because you look “like a fucking beaner.”

      I was a bicyclist for most of my time in Portland, and even after I had a car handed down to me from family, I didn’t drive it much, and often would leave it parked for months because I cancelled the insurance or didn’t renew the tags to save money. It’s cost prohibitive to drive in Portland, given how shockingly low the prevailing wages are to the cost of living. Worse yet has got to be the crime rate, which is artificially low because the Portland Police and other agencies in the Metro Region will not even take a report if there’s not catastrophic damage (like, car into building) or someone gets sent to the hospital. Lost count of how many times I got broken into, had above-mentioned car broken into or stolen, been randomly attacked on the street for being different, you name it. But they sure have a whole lot of time to pull me over for bicycling or driving while indian.

      Logic is an entirely alien thing in Portland. It votes for the most conservative Democrats it can find just to talk the talk without having to actually walk the walk. We switched to Tulsa, Oklahoma. It’s FAAAR more tolerant and accepting, and in pretty much every way except for the fact nobody votes (which is pretty much _the_ reason we’re a red state), sales tax and transportation planning, lightyears more progressive than Portland. You know your city’s gone way off the rails when moving to a city in the middle of the plains on an indian reservation improves just about every aspect of life. I’ve had white friends come visit from Portland and experience a similarly happy surprise visiting this place. Portland really needs to grow up.

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  • Aimee Fahey

    good to finally listen to a FULL perspective of Portland and not just
    the hipster stereotypes. And I adore the June Key story – I was at the
    grand opening and with my grandmother’s home literally behind the
    (former AM/PM), it brought tears to my eyes
    to see it come to fruition. As a native Oregonian born at Bess Kaiser
    in North Portland, whose family hailed from North Portland, and also
    having grown up in West Linn, I got a pretty interesting dual
    perspective coming of age in the 1980s. I moved away from 1994-2005 and
    was amazed at the change in the city that occurred while I was gone. I
    see the New Seasons and Green Zebras growing, yet only accommodating hip
    areas and ignoring true food deserts like Cully and St Johns and the
    many areas of East Portland. Even as a native, I’ve still learned so
    much over the years about the aches of our city that have gone largely
    unnoticed by the general population. Just the stories from my backyard
    neighbor, Annie, who’s 85 and lived in Woodlawn since the 1950’s when it
    was primarily white, and seen the evolution over the decades. We have
    to continue to learn from each other (all of us, all ages, all colors, all economic levels), and not wait to learn but ask for
    the lessons, and be willing to listen to what we hear, and create
    solutions that move us forward.

    I left Portland in 1994 because I was bored with the town – like any 20 year old, I was ready to get out and see other places. Portland wasn’t always a foodie town – we were known for bookstores and strip clubs and rain. When I’d travel, no one even had heard of us or could place Oregon on the map! I’m glad I left, because in returning I realized that even with the influx of new people who have no idea what this hometown of mine had been, it was still ultimately a town where I could just be exactly myself, and didn’t have to dress up to do it. There’s unfortunately unfair perceptions on both sides that happen, but a little empathy on both sides will go a long way in paving a new path. That being said, there needs to be a whole lot more humility from many in the white populations of Portland who have no concept of what many citizens of color in our town have not only experienced living here, but living in a city that has often treated them as second-class citizens. Coming from a family where racism was that insidious type (my mother bragging about her “black friend” in school who turned out to just be a kid who lived on her street, or coming to see my grandmother with the stern “lock the doors” and frequent mentions of how grandma was the “only white person on her street”), or the occasional overt comment (“why are you buying a house in that area, Aimee, don’t you know your car will get stolen by the black people over there?”), I was blessed to have people in my life pull me from that and encourage me to learn as much as I humanly can about the real history of not only Portland, but our country at large (remember, our history books in school were loads of garbage for the most part – Howard Zinn should be required reading for every American, as it will blow your mind what really happened in our country over the centuries).

    But I’m still learning, and still watching our community interactions and thinking, with all this, what can I do? Love. Learn. Express what I’m fearful of. Go past my own comfort zone. Love some more. Educate myself. Begin dialogues. Take ownership. Stop blaming others. Ignore the media stereotypes portrayed on MTV, Portlandia, and the national news. Seek out others in my community and beyond. Be the change. (And oh yes, love even more.)

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  • Yeswedid

    My street in Portland Heights doesn’t have sidewalks either and it’s almost entirely white.

  • Benjamin Barber

    Your supposed to yield to the person to your right, not pass them and cut them off, she was part of the problem.

    • Anyone

      Yeah. “I just endangered that cyclist’s life by breaking a traffic law, and now she’s yelling at me! She must be a racist.”

  • Jim-Bob

    Portland is regarded by many as something of a musical mecca…yet there is but ONE Portland act included in the music you chose? This could just as easily have been Des Moines’ playlist. :-

    • DifferentStripes

      I’ll answer that for you… there is indeed ONE Portland act in the playlist, Talkdemonic. I Googled them all.

    • Baloo Uriza

      Probably The Holy Modal Rounders or The Kingsmen. Sadly both were sort of one-hit wonders, but at least they didn’t sound like every other band from Portland ever. I’m not sure how Portland got this reputation for being a musical mecca, given how relatively rare an actually good act comes out of the city, or plays in the city. Only thing I can put it to is that it has some good (not great, but good) night clubs, like La Luna (or whatever it’s called this week) or the Roseland. I want to like the Crystal Ballroom (the spring-loaded floor is quite unique), but the tiny stage tucked in the back corner and the borderline inedible food McMenamin’s is known for are kind of off-putting. None can really compare with Cain’s Ballroom, though, especially given the acts it’s both generated, and attracts not only from the local region, but from around the world.

  • DifferentStripes

    Just wondering after listening to the episode, do people in black neighborhoods even WANT white people to move in? Serious question, because I’m trying to buy a house and I have a pretty low budget to work with. Black neighborhoods are definitely on my radar, but I don’t want people to think I’m gonna bring all this urban renewal and gentrification and take their nice, peaceful pleasant neighborhoods away. I’m not a trust fund kid.

    • Baloo Uriza

      Speaking as an indian who was born and raised in Boise-Elliott (Garfield and Jessup), gotta say that most people don’t care as long as you have some understanding and socialize. It’s a very outgoing neighborhood if you don’t approach it as being an outsider in a black neighborhood or act like a total hipster (which pretty much everyone who grew up in Portland is getting pretty sick of at this point). That said, if you’re not made of money, Portland isn’t for you. Ever since the .com crash, the U6 rate in the area’s been hovering around 20%, and Portland is one of the most expensive places to live in the US. You’re probably better off someplace east of the rockies and NOT North Dakota if you’re seeking a stable life someplace that isn’t socially and economically beyond recovery.

    • jazzgirl

      NO !!! all of you people come here to Portland with attitude and self righteousness… you clog up our neighborhoods, streets & roads. You don’t have any Respect for the people who were born & live here. If you wish for Portland to be like the city you left behind… sorry… move back. Portland was a clean place before you came with your dogs & bikes !!! Also bikes need to follow the rules of the road… you can’t compete w/ a car !!!

      • Baloo Uriza

        Oh, Portland had that long before. And it’s not like Portland’s drivers are any better at obeying the rules of the road than the cyclists. You’ve got to be blind if you can go a day in Portland and not see someone drive the wrong way, run a red light, disobey the speed limit, or do as the driver in this radio story did: cut someone off then act surprised that they’re pissed.

        And there’s another problem with Portland: Xenophobia. No wonder the Aryan Nation and the Skinheads love Portland so much! Combine that with an emergency response system that is strongly resistant to dispatching calls at all, and police who won’t take a report if nobody was sent to the hospital or killed means a lot of crime goes unreported because it can’t be reported. Being a native to Portland, I didn’t know this wasn’t normal until I moved to Tulsa and realized that I was born and raised in a backwater shithole.

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  • jay

    I’m a portland transplant, Iive in North Portland near the delta, sigma, theta LEED certified sorority center. I’m white, I’m married, I don’t have children, I rent, I have a doctoral degree. I was brought-up in the Midwestern rust belt, lived in a number of cities short-term during my college years and in Philadelphia for 7 years before moving to Portland. A large, diverse, racist, classist and horribly screwed-up city. These are opinions and my own perspective, so take it for what its worth.

    I wanted to applaud this program. It’s not meant as a forum to address issues or to provide all of the individual perspectives but to introduce issues that many people in Portland ignore or fail to recognize. Like any place Portland has as many positive as it does negative sides. Race and class discrimination have been and continue to be issues promoted both knowingly and unknowingly by the ruling privileged groups within and outside of the cities borders. One of the things you here white people say amongst themselves and sometimes aloud, as one of the commentators below has, is that it’s not fair to have a dual standards or expectations, forcing an unequal burden of social expectation on “me because I’m white or I wasn’t aware or it’s reverse racism.” It’s a reasonable feeling but these people fail to acknowledge that (1) racism is a social construct around power (2) what they are subliminally stating when they don’t feel they should conform to the cultural norms of socially and economically disadvantaged people; is that those people should conform to the ruling classes social norm. I’ve found that white people are on average ignorant about their role in a racist society, this is true in Portland, it’s true for myself. They often see their White European/American belief system as logical, the cultural norm, or just the way things are done. Portland has an added layer to that ignorance in that it expects you to be creative, community minded, to pay more for the Portland or Oregon brand, and to make less money while you’re doing it. Portland is entrepreneurial because you have to be creative to earn. This may be the way the real-economy functions for everybody in the U.S. in the near-future. Portland is egotistical and insulated. Portlanders love themselves and the fact that their from Portland, if they’ve been able to fall in line with the white-hipster aesthetic.They are defensive when you point out the problems and are not willing to accept responsibility for their role in the culture. You can hear it in the voices in this program. “I’m included.” “It’s like looking in the mirror.” To me these are similar statements / reasons why white people left cities in droves in the middle of the 20th century.

    Portland, and the northwest in general, is white. It’s whiter than any other part of the country, at least when you are comparing urban centers. It is a city with a high population of young people. Young white people often have a sense of entitlement. This is evident in the cussing white biker, yelling at the black woman for, speeding up and trying to turn in front of her in the bike lane. It’s entitled and defensive. btw not teaching driver’s ed. in school is an issue in Oregon. Many of the issues that were brought up speak to larger societal problems regarding race and class in America. White people of European decent have been very good at destroying the culture of other groups (hahmm aborignal Americans) and there remains an expectation in America by many in the ruling class that there needs to be a defining American cultural agenda forced upon immigrants and white-cultural outsiders. Portlanders are often hypocritical because they want to reject that mind-set yet want the black community to accept their point of view on social and political problems. This is a sinister aspect of modern liberalism rampant in Portland. “I’m community minded, as long as you agree with my perspective of what community and culture should be.”

    Portland and Oregon are beautiful places with great potential for the future. There are abundant natural resources and local food sources. People move here to take advantage of these things and a lifestyle that promotes them. That lifestyle is expensive and not very inclusive. You can be a part of it if you agree politically and can afford it. There are many groups, not just the African American and Hispanic populations in North and East Portland, that have not been able to take advantage of or be included in the Portland economy and new social construct. Portland has already become unaffordable for the average American worker. I make a good wage, have avg. amount of student loan debt and I couldn’t hope to have a down payment of 20% for a Portland home for at least 15 years, actively saving. 100k + per bedroom in my neighborhood, in a city with depressed salaries… again I’m white with an advanced degree. It doesn’t add up to having a diverse population. If Portland and Portlanders want their city to be socially and culturally inclusive then attitudes and policies (unequal public education spending, infrastructure/development project locations, tax policies, etc..) need to change. Maybe it’s going to get there someday? I hope so, but I don’t know? I hope I can afford to stay here and eventually call myself a proud Portlander. I hope Portland can become a more accepting place. It’s hard to do that when you already believe you are accepting. The people of Portland need to look in the mirror and if what is reflected back at them is all they want to see and all they believe in then the city can not grow and improve. If they look in the mirror and say “I like this, but other ideas/methods might work as well,” then I think the city will be more prosperous, more culturally relevant and better educated place.

    • Baloo Uriza

      Umm, no. The interaction between the car and the bicyclist wasn’t racist. The bicyclist’s reaction is very justifiable; you’re supposed to merge into the lane, not cut off traffic in the lane you’re entering. Just because the lane is reserved for one specific kind of vehicle doesn’t change that. That driver was a moron and really should be re-tested at renewal, and it had nothing to do with race. Stupidity knows no racial boundary.

    • momoffour

      Well said! As a light brown momma who is poor, this place really sucks and I am so tired of people who do really well here dismissing all the trouble or calling “reverse racism”. There is a protestant superiority complex here well the well-off think they know better. I have heard the most crazy racist stuff from supposedly liberal white people. Frankly, on weekly basis I have someone comment on how I am dark and my daughter is blonde. Commenting on someone’s color can feel very strange and aggressive from strangers just passing by, but when I’ve tried to explain this to white friends they think I am over reacting. You just feel so marginalized here, alone, and forgotten. Good for you to look beyond your own circumstances- you summed up the city very well!

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  • nigger

    Honestly, as a mulatto male growing up sheltered from racism… I never want to “pull that card,” so to speak. I don’t want anything from Portland, but I am disappointed to experience it’s racism. Just accept it, you don’t have to change this whitopia but, if you could acknowledge it maybe you could preserve it…

    • Baloo Uriza

      I think Portland’s about 20 years removed from what was worth preserving and 10 years past having a redeeming quality to save it from a bulldozer.

      • momoffour


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    • SOTRU

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    • SOTRU

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