TW: N word, racism, white supremacists.
In the last few 24 hours, news of this hate crime on Portland’s historic Mississippi Avenue—an avenue that has been gentrified immensely in the last few years— has come to light. It appears black businesses have been targeted with images of swastikas, the N word, and depictions of lynchings sprayed on the business fronts.
From the Willamette Week article on this hate crime:
Ellis Bradley, the owner of Grass Roots Cafe at 3503 N. Mississippi Ave., says the front of his cart was painted in swastikas, while the side was covered with the “N” word. “They repeated the word over and over,” he says.
On the Sons of Haiti Grand Lodge and Masonic Temple next door, Bradley says the vandals drew a picture of a man being lynched, and wrote: “Leave and die. Forever and ever die.” Both the cart and the lodge are African-American-owned businesses.
Racism, hate crimes, gentrification, and general white oppressive blindness is not new to Portland or to this area, in fact it is wildly known but little discussed. The Northeast part of Portland has been the center of the past mayoral race since it contains a high number of unregistered black voters, and a professor at Portland State University has been presenting her findings on race in Oregon and Portland in presentations throughout Portland.
It comes at no surprise to me that such hatred and direct attempts at fear mongering can happen 10 blocks from where I live. The race relations between policy and POC is dire with police brutality of POC happening frequently, the racial undertones of “development for a new Portland” being sprawled on the sides of construction sites where old black owned businesses once stood. POC are under attack in Portland, on a daily level, on a hate crime level such as this, and on a structural violence level as communities are deemed unsafe until a Whole Foods moves in.
However, this recent event along with ongoing work from the Portland Black History Project has meant there is push back. Tomorrow (Saturday, August 11th) there will be a solidarity event on Mississippi called “Surviving Mississippi: A walk through and Sit in that according to organizers this event is based on:
The past two weeks organizers with the PBHP have been meeting with Lodge brothers and other volunteers to help restore and rebuild programs at the location. The talks are very preliminary and the ideas are still being discussed. We posted pictures and did the usual Facebook check in and now we have a feeling that the exposure may have set off the indecent actions of a group of racists.
We have to stand against injustice and the scars of racism and hate. This Saturday we are invited to a weekly jam ses
sion that takes place in the adjacent lot between the alley and Mississippi Ave. We hope that you can meet with us!
Our suggestion is to show solidarity with the black owned businesses in Portland by staging a WALK THRU and SIT IN on Mississippi! Many of the members of the black community have stated that several businesses located in gentrified communities have frowned upon them when they come into the establishments. This has been occurring so much so that blacks no longer visit those communities. The first step in healing is working through the problems. Let’s do it together. Doesn’t have to be a march or protest but we can take the bus this Saturday and get off on Albina and Alberta then walk down the avenue to the Lodge on Mississippi and Fremont. Walk pass the businesses respectfully and stop at the lodge. We encourage you to bring items for a potluck or spend some cash at the food carts located in the business lot.
Bring Family and Friends and Lets listen to the Music and Enjoy the Summer Warmth while reclaiming our Humanity and Respect.
Portland Black History Project
Events like the one tomorrow are needed, in fact necessary, to show the community that Black folks, POC, communities of color, are strong, will survive, and can not be scared, bulldozed, or erased from their own neighborhoods.
Spread this far and wide, we need to stand in solidarity tomorrow against attacks like these on our POC communities.