Oregon Commission on Black Affairs Speaks out on Racial Injustice

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The group advocates for community-centered solutions and radical reform.

PORTLAND – Created nearly 40 years ago, the Oregon Commission on Black Affairs is a link between Oregon’s government and the state’s African American and Black communities, working for economic, social, legal, and political equality for African-American and Black people in Oregon. The group’s Commissioners recently shared this statement:

As many of you are, the Oregon Commission on Black Affairs is deeply saddened by the reckless death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. And, this moment of protest is part of a much larger movement as we consider the lives lost over the past three months: Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was killed in her own home by the Louisville (KY) Police Department. Tony McDade, a Black trans man who was killed by police in Tallahassee (FL). Nina Pop, a Black trans woman, was murdered in Missouri. Let us not forget the weaponizing of white privilege by Amy Cooper in Central Park (NY) against a Black man, Christian Cooper.

Our Black community includes LGBTQ, Trans and non-gender binary folks,
our elders, people with disabilities, youth, immigrants and refugees. In recent events, all of these identities are present. For our collective Black community here in Oregon, there must be an understanding of all who are affected by the injustice that allowed the death of Mr. Floyd. We, as your Oregon Commission on Black Affairs Commissioners, represent all of our community, which includes intersectional identities, personal or adjacent – and we honor them. It is important that we be clear and honest about who our community is. We embrace and hold in mind all community members in our demand for justice and equity.

We also recognize this is happening in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken over 100,000+ lives and has disproportionately affected Black communities. While this moment is daunting, we lift up and support the vision and platforms of the Movement for Black Lives, the (Portland-based) Coalition of Communities of Color, the Oregon Health Equity Alliance, and other organizations that are seeking legislative and policy reforms. At the same time, this is an important moment to radically reimagine our criminal justice system. The legacy of criminal justice harm for Black people in this country demands approaches that go beyond incremental changes–convenient steps that still focus on pouring resources into the institutions that have resulted in the loss of life and liberty for so many.

We call for an intentional reconciling of our nation’s history and the relationship and role of our criminal justice system to the dehumanization of Black bodies.

The Oregon Commission on Black Affairs supports any and all movements that are working towards justice. We will advocate in the short term for community-centered and driven solutions, and we will elevate discussions around radical reform to protect our communities.

In solidarity,
The Oregon Commission on Black Affairs Commissioners

Chair: Jamal T. Fox, MPA
Vice Chair: Lawanda Manning
Commissioners: Angela Addae, JD Djimet Dogo Benjamin Duncan Mariotta Gary-Smith Musse Olol
Legislative Members: Rep. Akasha Lawrence Spence
Staff: Lucy Baker, Administrator Nancy Kramer, Executive Asst. Dr. Connie Kim-Gervey, Research/Policy Analyst

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