There is so much to say I hardly know where to begin. In a few short weeks there will be another election, but that can wait for the moment. We are living in a time of incredible tumult and upheaval, much of it brought on by hundreds of years of oppression and institutionalized and sanctioned violence against Black Americans. So I’d like to start there.
This issue is very important and personal to me. For decades, I’ve been working to balance my privilege with my ability to improve outcomes for people of color. As is my practice, I’ve been listening to Black Portlanders are saying and asking for, working to further understand my privilege and its impacts, and reminding myself that there is always more to learn.
The problems with policing in our country and Portland can no longer be ignored if we want to save our city and our nation. I have come to agree that we need to label racism for what it is - a public health crisis that has infected our police forces and our criminal justice system.
We all have to do everything we can, every day, to work to dismantle systems of oppression that are crushing the lives of Black Americans. For white folks, there is so much work to do. We have to start with understanding the problem; we have to start by educating ourselves on what it means to be white in America and the inherent privilege that brings. We have to confront our own discomfort and defensiveness - white fragility - which is all too common even in ‘’progressive Portland”, and perhaps most importantly, we have to learn to amplify Black and Brown voices in our community.
I know we have to act in order to save lives. I’m fully supportive of the City Commission’s vote to cut $15 million from the Portland Police Bureau by cutting programs that have long been criticized for causing more harm than good. But that is only a first step. We have to change the culture of our police force and implement real reforms that will reduce violence, protect our communities, and transform our public safety officers into community guardians and champions.
It is also crucial that policies already on the books are enforced. For instance, just two months ago, the Portland Committee on Community Engaged Policing blasted PPB’s work regarding training and use of force. Additionally, the issue of qualified immunity is one that must be addressed.
I am an ally, a leader, and a partner in supporting this work while amplifying the voices of our neighbors most impacted by these systems and policies. I’m excited to help change the culture of this city, and I am ready to be Portland’s next City Commissioner.
I am interested in learning from you. Please reach out and send me your ideas on how we can improve and bring our city together.