It has been a privilege to bear witness to the intelligence, compassion and solidarity spoken and felt here today at City Hall.
I was born here in Oregon in the 1970s, and this is the state I have known all of my life. The history, people and struggles are a big part of who I am. Growng up biracial in small town Oregon, I internalized the fear of being ridiculed and bullied for being different. I found myself in spaces like the boys locker room where homophobic comments were thrown around like candy. I studied in classrooms devoid of any teaching of immigrants, women, communities of color and the working class. I went from home to school or work feeling very isolated.
Today I believe we are face to face with forces that come out of experiences like this. Oregon has experienced waves of attacks on people, from the White Settlers and US Army that killed and forcibly removed Native Americans from the most fertile and productive lands, to the decades of anti-gay ballot measures and anti-immigrant policies, we live in a culture that is too accustomed to attitudes of superiority and fear.
We face a society that is changing rapidly, with people of color, immigrants and refugeees making up 1 in 5 Oregonians, that is over 800,000 people in our state of 4 million. These changes and the growing leadership from our communities represented here today, pose challenges for those who would seek to scapegoat us for the world’s deeper economic and social problems.
We face an ideology that relies on fear to maintain control and the status quo. And at the root of this are feeling of insecurity, of being rejected by the growing multicultural, interfaith and interconnected world we live in.
We may be stressed out, targeted, humiliated and scared. But we are more powerful because we stand in solidarity, we stand in love. Audre Lorde reminds us that our silence will not protect us. It is these spaces, where we can organize and tell our stories, organize and stand together, organize and take direct action, it is in these spaces where we draw the line and speak truth to power and the forces of fear, and say no more, enough of these attacks that undermine our humanity and undermine our community.
As you leave here, take pause to think about the spirit of today and what knowledge and courage you can bring home to your own life. Because where there is a lack of knowledge and information about our communities, ideology fills the void. Help tell the stories of the other, challenge those who would stereotype and scapegoat people in order to win favor, and set the expectation that our neighbors and our leaders reject hate and are committed to the values of compassion, solidarity.
Join me if you believe you can say yes to
Vote and hold our electeds accountable
Say her name
We can and will pull together.
Offer a healing hand.
Stand in love.