In recent years, ads promoting the City of Portland, Oregon, have portrayed the city as “weird” — steampunk, maple/bacon doughnuts, all manner of craft beers, etc., etc. But the city and environs also have a less-than-boastable history of white supremacy. According to the Momentum Alliance — a youth-led group that works for social justice — this historical situation has continued into the 21st Century with policies and procedures that put communities of colour at a disadvantage.
Metro, the regional government overseeing the three counties and 23 cities surrounding the Rose City, teamed up with Momentum Alliance to create a more racially equitable region, starting with changing the agency itself and its relationships with the communities it serves. Through a series of meetings and projects, changes have taken place — and not just cosmetic, outward-appearance changes or plans on a shelf, but changes in the attitudes of individual staff members.
But the process was hardly smooth. It involved some tough conversations, revelations and above all, trust-building. Members, hear for yourself how this remarkable process came together, and how much further they need to go.