Dear Portland: Where do we go now?
It has been so, so hard to process last week's events in the City of Roses. There are some who have defended the white supremacist Jeremy Joseph Christian. We have gathered to memorialize the two men that were slain; we consider them heroes. One of the victim's last words were: "Please tell everyone on this train that I love them." And, the surviving victim encourages us to focus our attention on the teen women who were the subjects of the attack: "We need to remember that this is about those little girls."
Racism and hate is nothing new to Portland. It now the time that we will acknowledge this history? How are we to move on and grow closer after this? Are we a community divided, whether overtly or subtly? Are we less progressive than we thought?
In the name of our children: how do we work to build networks of compassion and inclusion? How do we discuss these current events with our youngest community members? How do we insist, in the name of the generations that will be after us, that we disable networks of hate and violence? How do we cross boundaries to strengthen the deepest threads of our community's fabric and how do we dismantle the institutional barriers that oppress us?
For me, I found some grounding in this statement from a Portland-based community organization: the road is long and journey will be difficult; we must remain steadfast in our commitment for progress and equity.