African Americans in Oregon

  1. 0
    hello all! My best friend was just offered a job in oregon at a hospital after living her life here in Florida. She was super excited and searching for info on places to live and everything else and I guess she found some articles about racism in Oregon and now is nervous. I told her I would post on here to see what you guys had to say. She will be in Portland but loves to escape to smaller towns and is excited about hiking and biking and all that other goodness. Is there anyone here that has experienced a lot of racism in Oregon? Or someone here who is African American and can let me know of their experience. I always thought people talked about how diverse and liberal Portland was so it came as a bit of a shock to me but she showed me a bunch of sites and now is nervous since she doesn't really know anyone out there. Help out if you can and thanks a lot from us Floridians : )
  2. Get our hottest nursing topics delivered to your inbox.

  3. 19 Comments so far...

  4. 3
    Not an AA, but I can give you my perspective:

    Oregon has a history of both being very white and racist. At one time (in the 20's and 30's in particular) the KKK was very large and influential (in the 20's it basically ran the coastal city of Seaside -- all the elected officials and the sheriff.

    There was a major incident in the late 40's called the Vanport flood.

    There have been more recent incidents as well.

    And I know AA who have come here from elsewhere and found it uncomfortable, mainly b/c there was such a lack of the presence of POC.

    The traditionally AA neighborhood, North Portland has been experiencing gentrification and some of the tensions that come with that.

    That said:

    The racial demographic is shifting, mostly b/c of the in increase in the Latino population.

    I think there are efforts to try and do things differently -- for example, w/the north Portland gentrification, there has also been attempts to foster dialogue among the old and new neighbors.

    Personally, I live on a block that is probably about 50/50 white and AA.

    So, I think it's a mixed bag, but I think it's also important to come here with one's eyes open. I know AA who have moved here and are comfortable and glad. I know ones who have left b/c -- not necessarily b/c of overt racism but b/c of the kind of unthinking oblivious kinds of bigotry that happens where there isn't a lot of people who don't look like you.

    As for as the less urban areas, Oregon is like a lot of the country where a state has one or two very liberal areas, and the more rural you get, (excepting things like college towns) the more conservative it gets.

    I think it would be worth it for all of the livability factors, but I'm also speaking from the privilege my white skin.

    Something that might help is to look at local information like the local AA owned and focused paper The Skanner: http://www.theskanner.com/

    Also, Portland has had 2 AA Chiefs of Police -- one Charles Moose, was highly respected and left to become Chief in Montgomery County, MD during the "beltway sniper" incident. The second, Derick Foxworthy was caught up in a scandal about using official email to talk dirty w/someone in the dept he was having an affair with. Now the CoP is a woman.

    On the health side, the Hospital in North Portland, Emmauel Legacy has been a great supporter of the African American Health Coallition which does a number of things to support health in the community, including things like training hair salon owners to talk w/their patrons about health issues, and other community based efforts. Their president and CEO , Corliss McKeever, is an amazing woman.


    I hope this didn't just muddy the water...
    CaLLaCoDe, lindarn, and Spiderella like this.
  5. 1
    Two of the lesser-known but very liberal cities are Eugene and Corvallis. They are both college towns and there is a great deal of ethnic diversity, as well as a generally progressive outlook and intellectual curiosity. Both areas are also home to large medical centers, so if things don't work out in Portland and environs, your friend should consider going further south.

    A wee word of advice: Eastern Oregon is probably about 50 years behind the western half of the state in terms of attitude and culture. Even I wouldn't want to live there, and I'm neither AA nor liberal........
    lindarn likes this.
  6. 1
    Quote from VivaLasViejas
    Two of the lesser-known but very liberal cities are Eugene and Corvallis. They are both college towns and there is a great deal of ethnic diversity, as well as a generally progressive outlook and intellectual curiosity. Both areas are also home to large medical centers, so if things don't work out in Portland and environs, your friend should consider going further south.

    A wee word of advice: Eastern Oregon is probably about 50 years behind the western half of the state in terms of attitude and culture. Even I wouldn't want to live there, and I'm neither AA nor liberal........
    Thanks for actually spelling out about Eugene and Corvallis -- I mentioned them, but w/o naming them.

    The thing that people don't understand about Eugene though is that the cost of living there is equal to Portland.
    lindarn likes this.
  7. 2
    Hi,
    I'll throw my 2 cents in. I was raised in Eugene (very sheltered and not very diverse at all, however very liberal). I moved to Portland for more diversity. Portland has a fairly large African American population, especially in NE Portland. I don't see racial issues in Portland, but my nephew who is African American has had issues in Eugene. Oregon may have a "redneck" reputation, but I don't see this in the larger cities. It is a beautiful diverse city. Portland is great!
    lindarn and Simba&NalasMom like this.
  8. 1
    Hey thanks everyone for the responses. I'm going to have her read everything that every one said. It seems not as bad as I've read..... Especially if she sticks to Portland which is where she wants to go anyway. Thanks again!
    lindarn likes this.
  9. 2
    I have to throw my two cents in as well. I am African American and moved here to Portland in 2006 and have had no problems. It may not be the most diverse city around, but very liberal and tolerant. I spent time in Corvallis at a Oregon Students of Color conference and I have to say it was a bit awkward. I don't think people there were used to seeing people of color in pairs or groups! I can't speak for the city, just my one experience.

    Anyway, I think your friend would find Portland to be a great, liveable city with lots of open-minded tolerant people.
    CaLLaCoDe and lindarn like this.
  10. 1
    I have Vietnamese friends in the Portland area and they have told me that Portland leans liberal and is a very friendly area.

    My son was just up there a couple of weeks ago and he loved the area. He really wants out of So. Cal and into a place where he can have the options of the city AND a rural escape.

    steph
    lindarn likes this.
  11. 0
    Quote from lilikoi
    I have to throw my two cents in as well. I am African American and moved here to Portland in 2006 and have had no problems. It may not be the most diverse city around, but very liberal and tolerant. I spent time in Corvallis at a Oregon Students of Color conference and I have to say it was a bit awkward. I don't think people there were used to seeing people of color in pairs or groups! I can't speak for the city, just my one experience.

    Anyway, I think your friend would find Portland to be a great, liveable city with lots of open-minded tolerant people.
    I'm glad your experience has been good. I have an AA friend here Philly and he's been quite comfortable. Another friend from NC left after 5 years, and one reason was that she just couldn't get comfortable here.

    It is, beyond a doubt, a great city, and a great area to live. I just know the tensions I've seen. I think where you lived before and your expectations will have an influence or one's perceptions.
  12. 0
    I completely agree Marachne and I thought your original reply was right on the money. Everyone's experience will be different and I can only speak to my own.


Top