Academic Perspective: Local Professors weigh in on the State of Black Oregon during community forum
Displacement is a trend that has been sweeping the Portland area for generations. During our discussion at Portland State University with Dr. Karen Gibson, Ph.D., (Bleeding Albina: A history of Community Disinvestment) Dr. Darrell Milner, Ph.D., and Mr. Washington, Professor Emeritus, these issues were highlighted through real life situations during the forum co-sponsored by PSU’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion on April 22, 2015 at the Native American Center.
Dr. Milner was a recent contributor to the Urban League report the State of Black Oregon. He notes Oregon has thrown away several chances of being a more diverse State through gentrification of its Black community. Dr. Milner took the air out of the room when he said Portland “No longer has a Black community.”
During the evening, Mr. Washington gave testimony on being victimized by unfair housing practices. He related how a landlord offered a reduce rent rate to his best friend, a lawyer who happens to be a white man. He and the lawyer threatened to take the matter to court for discriminatory pricing. When the landlord was threatened with a lawsuit Mr. Washington wound up paying less than what he was told originally.
Dr. Gibson offered insight on how displacement affects the housing market for people of color. Dr. Gibson recommended three solutions: continue building community in our separated sections as best we can. She also encourages Blacks to stay in or move back to North Portland. Becoming involved at a root level with local politics will create a voice toward eliminating local policies that date back to the Jim Crow era.
At the end of the discussion, I posed a question to the panel and asked “What can we do as millennials to eliminate these injustices?” The response was “just do something”. Being aware of how the past effects our future and having the mindset of making change happen is the start to better days for Portland’s Black community. By being involved in our community and local politics, we can bring new life and ideas to the displacement issue.
Reported by Delon Lewis, PSU student