In a Twitter thread posted Wednesday, Mayor Steve Callaway described an encounter he had after leaving an Emeralds v. Hillsboro Hops minor league baseball game in Eugene, where a man referred to Hillsboro by the racially pejorative name, “HillsBurrito.” When Callaway asked the man why he would use such a word, the man allegedly said it was because Hillsboro “has a lot of Latinos,” and admitted to knowing he sounded racist. After that point, the mayor revealed his identity.
“Wish I could convey the shock on his face,” Callaway tweeted.
In the thread, Callaway wrote that he spoke to the man about Hillsboro’s “beauty, strength and richness that comes from the diversity of my community,” adding “it wasn’t about me being offended but was about him being offensive and I agreed what he said sounded racist to me too.”
Hillsboro’s Hispanic population, established after WWII when immigrants moved to the area with their families to work on farms, is almost three times the size of Portland’s Hispanic population, and one of the largest in the metro area. According to the 2017 U.S. Census, Hillsboro’s Hispanic population makes up 22.7% of the total population, compared to 19.4% in Gresham, 16.7% in Beaverton, 9.7% in Portland and 4.2% in Lake Oswego.
While Hillsboro does celebrate its Hispanic population with community events such as the springtime Latino Cultural Festival, and like Portland is a “sanctuary city” for immigrants, the population has not historically been represented in local government. With the exception of one white woman, Hillsboro’s mayors have all been straight, white men, and the present city council also reflects these skewed demographics. Hillsboro is also among the cities the Oregonian reported whose police are failing to report bias crimes, despite the fact that, especially after Donald Trump’s inauguration, they are definitely happening.
But hey! Good on Callaway for standing up for his city’s reputation. And he ended the thread like a true social media sleuth, determining that he knows the racist man’s neighbors, and “will be extending him an invitation to visit Hillsboro and experience what makes us special.”
So my friends and neighbors, my brothers and sisters, no matter where you’re from, no matter how you speak, no matter how you worship, thank you for choosing Hillsboro for your home. Thank you for your strength, your contributions, your love and acceptance.
— Steve Callaway (@SteveCallaway2) September 6, 2018