PSU Student seeks answers on disinvestment during Academic Perspective forum

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Academic Perspective: Local Professors weigh in on the State of Black Oregon during community forum

IMG_7353Displacement 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.”

 He and Dr. Gibson (also a contributor to the Urban League report)  noted that Portland’s Black community is suffering from not having a central location  for cultural interactions to take place.  Family and culture is marginalized and community is diluted; families have to recreate their own Black experience without community experiences. Suburban living  is a watered down and condensed version of what it would be like to have a network of families thriving amongst one another. “Even I can testify that being the only Black kid in class can be a bit demoralizing not having peers to relate with.”~Delon Lewis

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.

IMG_7369At 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 

Additional Conversations
Oregon Public Broadcasting: Think Out Loud: PAALF Leadership forum Talks Gentrification and Development
City Club of Portland: Epigenetics and Equity
~Ed.