Learn about how to get involved with local organizations that have been fighting for decades for racial justice.
OREGON – Peaceful protesters continue to march in Portland, St. Helens, Grants Pass, Forest Grove, Happy Valley, Hood River, Monmouth, Newport, Salem, Sisters, and other areas across Oregon to mourn the loss of George Floyd and to advocate for racial justice reform.
“The killing of George Floyd is a stain on this country. To everyone who is hurting right now, I hear you. I stand with you. And I add my voice to yours,” says Governor Kate Brown. “As we mourn George Floyd’s death, let us remember the many Black lives that have been taken by unnecessary violence. And let us commit ourselves, and our country, to fundamental change. We must commit ourselves to racial justice. Words are not enough. We need collective action.”
Governor Brown passed juvenile justice reforms last year and has worked for justice reinvestment to reduce harsh prison sentences and reinvest the savings in crime prevention and drug treatment. She’s holding listening sessions with Black community organizations to gather ideas about how to make the most impactful, meaningful changes. “But we are only scratching the surface,” she says. “I was pleased to see several very thoughtful proposals for reform issued by the legislature’s People of Color Caucus this week. I look forward to working with legislators to get these proposals to my desk so I can sign them as soon as possible.”
Being a good ally, an effective activist, and supporting Oregon’s Black and African American communities means doing the emotional labor to educate yourself about how to be anti-racist. A great starting point is reading these Guidelines for Being Strong White Allies and this advice from activists, as well as watching this talk on structural racism, trauma, and violence, given by OHSU professor Alisha Moreland-Capuia, M.D. The book How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi is helpful, as is this conversation between Ta-Nehisi Coates and the author of The Color of Law. For resources on talking to your kids about race and racial injustice, this is a helpful roundup; the Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners honor outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults. Another way to offer support is to do your banking with a Black-owned financial institution. In addition, read the police accountability recommendations from the Oregon Legislative People of Color Caucus and the statement from the Oregon Commission on Black Affairs.
Many Oregonians are asking how to sustain the momentum of this moment, and how to harness this energy toward making true progress. President Barack Obama offered this guidance: “The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable. But eventually, we have to translate those aspirations into specific laws and institutional practices,” he said this week. “To do that, we have to know which levels of government have the biggest impact. Changing the federal government is important. But the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.”
Local action has a tremendous impact. Here is a list of resources of local organizations where you can get involved, take action, and affect change in our own communities across Oregon. There are many organizations working for this message across the state; here is a small sampling to get you started.
The Coalition of Communities of Color
The Coalition of Communities of Color (CCC) addresses the socioeconomic disparities, institutional racism and inequity of services experienced by our families, children and communities; and to organize our communities for collective action resulting in social change to obtain self-determination, wellness, justice and prosperity.
Western States Center
Based in the Pacific Northwest and Mountain States, Western States Center works nationwide to strengthen inclusive democracy so all people can live, love, worship and work free from fear.
Portland United Against Hate
Portland United Against Hate is a coalition of more than 80 community organizations, neighborhood groups, agencies, and local governments working together for a safe, healthy, and loving community. Together, they built a rapid response system that combines reporting and tracking of hateful acts and provide support and protection to communities. PUAH seeks to combine resources, assets, and relationships to create an inclusive city that protects, embraces, and celebrates its diverse communities.
Black United Fund
For over 30 years, Black United Fund of Oregon has been committed to providing financial support and life-changing programs for low-income communities and communities of color in Oregon. The ultimate goal of the Black United Fund of Oregon is to increase opportunities for growth by encouraging philanthropic activity in our state and putting funds in the hands of organizations providing resources for underserved communities.
The Portland African American Leadership Forum helps our Black community imagine the alternatives we deserve and build our civic participation and leadership to achieve those alternatives.
NAACP of Oregon
The NAACP of Oregon works to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and eliminating racial hatred and discrimination, with branches in Albany/Corvallis, Eugene/Springfield, Portland, and Salem/Keizer.
The Urban League of Portland
The Urban League of Portland’s mission is to empower African-Americans and others to achieve equality in education, employment, health, economic security and quality of life.
The MRG Foundation
The MRG Foundation inspires people in Oregon to work together for justice and mobilize resources for Oregon communities as they build collective power to change the world.
Led by people of color, immigrants and refugees, rural communities, and people experiencing poverty, Unite Oregon works across Oregon to build a unified intercultural movement for justice, with chapters in Medford, Beaverton, and Portland.
KairosPDX is focused on delivering excellent, equitable education to underserved children, their families, and their communities. Their mission is to eliminate the prolific racial achievement and opportunity gaps by cultivating confident, creative, compassionate, leaders who exceed expectations at each milestone, ages 0-10.
Self Enhancement, Inc.
Self Enhancement, Inc. in North Portland is dedicated to guiding underserved youth to realize their full potential. Working with schools, families, and partner community organizations, SEI provides support, guidance, and opportunities to achieve personal and academic success. SEI brings hope to individual young people and enhances the quality of community life.