How Portland Is Driving Away New Residents of Color

The City Wasn’t Giving Me What I Needed—Which Is Why I Left


It is ironic how racists leftists are. Thanks for this article.
You mean "paradoxical," not "ironic." And you mean "liberals," not "leftists." And your categorical assertion itself is anecdotal at best, not to be tossed around like known and established Fact.
But of course, it's a comment in response to yet another badly written essay that is a list of minor annoyances conflated to major injustices, so who's surprised?
It is curious to see people using diverse to mean "people like me".
Columbus should be a lot better. Being from Ohio, I can tell you that it is a bastion of tolerance and inclusivity.
I try to be on the progressive side of racial issues, but goddamn, it gets hard to keep hearing that a traditionally white neighborhood that has more POC moving in is a positive thing but a traditionally non-white neighborhood that has more white people moving in is a negative thing is anything but racist. Honestly, can anyone explain this? Why should I feel bad that I moved to a mixed neighborhood where I could more easily afford a home?
The article's topic aside, the author seems painfully self-absorbed. He's at once aware of raping long-term inhabitants of their city and their voice and yet cavalier about it all. Maybe if he took his toxic masculinity and channeled the energy for better use, by sitting down and shutting the **** up so that lifelong-resident black womyn can speak, he'd learn something. He should apologize for this entire garbage bag of an awkwardly self-conscious, oppressive article.
It would be interesting to have some data to go along with the anecdotes in this article. What percentage of people moving to Portland are people of color? What percentage of them move away after a short period of time (say within 2 years)? How does that compare to the percentage of all people who move to Portland and then move away in a short period of time?
Interesting points, and I've heard this sentiment echoed by other folks so I don't doubt it is part of the Portland experience for many POC. I would have loved to see some exploration of the economic dimension, ie. what is the relationship between a POC who has just moved here to work in the tech industry or Nike (or some other high paying job), and a native Black Portlander who grew up in Albina, or a refugee from Somalia living in East Portland and being displaced further and further out? He does touch on the native/non-native dimension a little, but the socio-economic factors are also huge.
Thanks Lauren. I agree that this article completely is a bit tone deaf to the struggle of long-term permanent Portland POC. We have seen a lot of pieces about disgruntled new residents of color who came here with economic status, and they are all useful mirrors, but this guy moved on, and maintains good employment and economic status. A lot of recent upper class transplants have been very vocal that Portland failed to be their personal utopia. The race issue is hugely important, but we have locals, without the same economic resources, that would be more valuable voices on this topic.
Good grief, cry more why don't you? The very last paragraph is a perfect representation of how inane this article is. "Eastern Maid" was so traumatic that you have to write about it? Really? I guess people better start moving from wherever they are if they run across a drink called "White Russian", "Moscow Mule, "Irish Coffee", "Irish Car Bomb" or "Caesar". Don't get me started on foods, I mean "French Fries"! Come on! No, no, let's all cry about the slights that have happened to us, or our parents or our great-great-grandparents, or whatever. Heck, my ancestors were conquered by the Persians and Romans, I guess I should start having serious issues with the Italians and Iranians, right? Pizza now officially offends me, every commercial I see is a direct slap in the face and I demand that pizza no longer be sold in America. Until this happens I will sit in the corner with my blankie and post irrelevant comments on the internet. Wait...America is named after an Italian! I demand that it be renamed too! If we've reached a point (and it sure seems like we have) where every single phrase can be interpreted as being racist, or some sort of phobia, we might as well turn off the lights and lock the door. We're done.
This article doesn’t actually tell us how Portland is driving away people of color. The author’s only personal examples of Portlanders’ behavior that made them leave is people asking a lot about their ethnicity and the Mohamed in their name and a Middle Eastern restaurant with an offensive cocktail name. Come on that’s it? That’s racism and so bad that you had to leave a city?

I am also Indian American and live in Portland. I do get asked about my ethnicity sometimes and people often comment on my name ( oh where’s that from, what an unusual name, I’ve never heard that name before, etc). I don’t consider that offensive, they are curious. If I lived in many places that weren’t India, I would get similar comments. I have also lived in Ohio and comments I got there about my background were actually offensive and not driven by curiosity. In Ohio, I have been asked if I lived in a hut instead of a house in India (by my school teacher in front of the entire class), if people in India owned TVs, and when I said my name they said it was too hard to pronounce and asked if they call me Debbie instead.

Portland has its problem but this article really failed to articulate any of them. Personally, any hostility that I feel here from the progressives isn’t based on being a person of color, it comes from the fact that I has moderate political views instead of super liberal ones. There is intolerance for political beliefs here in Portland when they go against the progressives ones.
Portland got a little less racist the moment this guy moved out. Does the city owe you something? Hell no! You are welcome to live, work and play here just like everybody else regardless of race, sexuality, etc. I take serious issue with how prejudice the author is and he seems oblivious to it. Why do you capitalize "Black" and not "white"? Since when were minor everyday inconveniences signs of rampant racism? Oh, you have had your ass grabbed AND pushed off the sidewalk?!?! Oh my! How horrible! Guess what, Pocahontas, so have I and I'm a white man. Stop playing the victim and grow some thicker skin. There are real people out there with real problems and you aren't one of them.
It seems to me this essay boils down to the fact and feeling that white residents of this city dismiss POC's valid complaints about the lack of inclusivity in Portland. All of the comments on the article prove the point of the writer and the people he interviewed. Being defensive about our privilege won't help our reputation with POCs. Listening to their observations and working with them to try to improve the long standing institutionalized and internalized racism in Portland could possibly help. I appreciate this article. It is a way for me to listen to people of color about this issue without having to do the hard work of asking them personally for their insight.
I always find it interesting when people say San Fransico is more diverse than Portland. If you take the Chinese American and radical queer element out of the equation, the demographics of Portland and San Francisco aren't that different.
After another read through of the comments, I'd like to change my observation from "all of the comments" to "many of the comments". There are many constructive comments as well.
Why should I care about "our" reputation with "them"? I do not represent anyone but myself, and I try to treat everyone I interact with the respect they deserve. Racism thrives when we treat people as members of groups rather than individuals.
Yep, and it enforces a terrible fallacy to say that anyone who disagrees with the author has "proved" his point. Also using the construct of saying that anyone who disagrees is just being defensive about their privilege is predictable and lazy.
This article was crap, and people have the right to say so: As many noted, his examples were poor, and his generalizations undermined his points further. The fact that several people he interviewed identify him as part of the problem, and rightfully so.
The worst part is that this is how The Merc always approaches race. It really oughta stop.
...because although people say we never discuss race in the U.S., I disagree. We talk about it all the time. Badly.
As far as Portland goes, there's all sorts of people here; they come from all over. So a couple of anecdotes about some time you felt vaguely uncomfortable don't really mean a damn thing as regards the city. You might well have been talking to someone who just moved here, say.
I'm not gong to be asking you questions about ethnicity, race, religion largely speaking until you bring it up. But - I'm always gonna treat an idiot like an idiot, regardless of who.
The real miracle, by the way, would be if we ever had an honest conversation about Class in America. That'd be a hoot.
speaking if racism in LA and Frisco - they both have distrcts adjactent to downtown that are culturally distinct. When I think of race in Portland being a problem for anyone non-white I think of downtown pdx. black Women don't even come down here :(
Why are nearly all the "People of Color" identified by the specific national origin or specific culture of their ancestors: "Indian," "Filipina," "Vietnamese," "Latina," "Chinese," "Indigenous," and so on and so forth... But every "white" person is lumped into the same catch-all category? The author devoted an entire section of the article to "erasure," but has no problem engaging in the same when it suits his purpose.

What the hell does "white person" even mean anyway? Can we please get a working definition of the term?

Are we meant to believe that every Albanian, Belgian, Cypriot, Dane, Egyptian, Frenchman, German, Hungarian, Italian, Jordanian, Kulak, Lithuanian, Montenegrin, Norwegian, Ossetian, Pole, Québécois, Russian, Spaniard, Turk, Ukrainian, Venetian, Welshman, Yemeni, and New Zealander (just to name a few) are all part of the same monolithic culture?
Why on earth does any person of color want to live in a predominantly white community?

Why not live in a predominantly black/Asian/Muslim/Jewish/Hindu/Native American community?

My goodness, you have the entire WORLD to choose from.

Try Bombay, Detroit, Calcutta, East St. Louis, Lahore, Compton, Mexico City, Baltimore, Peking, Camden, Dehli, Tel Aviv, or tens of thousands of vibrant, white-free zones.
If you talk to just about anyone anywhere about race--even to people who agree with you completely--you are almost guaranteed to have a bad day. String enough of those conversations together and you are guaranteed to feel uncomfortable.
So much whining
If you view life through the prism of race, you are a racist. That is the ironic state of the left. They obsess about race, it is their defining factor of existence. Not hard work or a kind heart nor a generous nature. It's all about race, 24/7/365. Race defines who is the oppressed and who is the oppressor without the messiness of being oppressed or oppressing.

If you're an officially designated 'oppressed minority', your life will suck for eternity regardless of what you do. If you're white, especially a white hetero male; you are scum.... evil scum regardless of any good works you might have done.

This is the environment of the left and if you don't buy into it.... you're a racist or a traitor to your race. Such a lovely life.
"One woman, who is Black and declined to be named, said she disliked being in Portland, but her fix for enduring the city was to “avoid white people at all costs.” She’s survived, she said, because she made adjustments."

Imagine the foaming SJW outrage if a white woman had said the same thing about black people. It would rightly be called racism.
Hey, @#20: did you just seriously claim that black women never go downtown? What in the serious fuck are you talking about?
What a sadly missed opportunity. Instead of approaching the subject with hope for solutions, love, compassion, open heart and self-critique, the writer instead indulges in escapist self-pity, malice, prejudice, snark, and projection.

The sum total of this piece is that Portland would be nice -- with fewer white people The fundamental problem seems to be that white people have the temerity to exist:
“Her fix for enduring the city was to “avoid white people at all costs.’”
“The thing that trips me out about Portland is not that it’s so white.”  
“Living in Portland made me hate white people!”

So the solution to this poor author's suffering is immediate reduction in the existence of white people, then?
When a heart is so hardened by being asked where he’s from, is there any hope?

Evidence of mind-reading too: “The issue is that for many white people, they walk into an office meeting or classroom, see no people of color around, and feel like there’s nothing wrong about that.” How could that be? They don’t look around the room, see individuals but representatives of race, and say ‘Something’s wrong! We aren’t individuals, we are either part of a tribe or nothing!’?

“I feel normal again cause I see people like me around everywhere.” Ah, race-specific bias: in-group preference, out-group abhorrence.
“In Portland the most painful experience was that my white friends and colleagues very much resisted and refuted the idea that it was a difficult place for people of color.” You had white friends?-- but I thought you hated them? Maybe they refuted the idea because they didn’t adhere to your exemplary point of view, namely that they can only “feel normal again” when they see people like themselves.
In other words, they have had racism driven out of them by cultural stigmatization of your kind of bigotry, and strive to eradicate it, while you’re only too happy to indulge in it.

“Basically the Pacific Northwest is super toxic for people of color... it’s been great to be around so many Black and brown folks in the Bay Area.” (Away from those icky whites). Toxic, as in deadly? Face the truth: you just hate non-POC, and love to indulge in hate--so their very existence/co-existence is “toxic” to you... just by being themselves. If you spew venom and poison, don’t be surprised if your environment becomes toxic.  

“One Black woman I interviewed regards new Portlanders of color like me to be just as annoying as the white gentrifiers who plant Black Lives Matter signs on their lawn while pushing out longtime Black residents.”

Were there incidents of white pro-civil rights activists on a surreptitious Gentrification mission, grabbing Black residents and pushing them out? No? If a white individual buys a black person’s house, this is “pushing them out”? When white people move away, it’s racist: “white flight.” When they move back, it’s Gentrification (also racist).

White supremacists in the region of George Wallace refused to drink from the same water fountain as a Black person. Presumably, these bigots wouldn’t eat on the same plate, sit in the same chair, or use the same toilet seat. Now, if a white person moves into a home owned by a black person, this is somehow just as negative, although by any lights this is a rejection of the supremacist resistance to “miscegenation.”

Sometimes a white person who treats a Black person badly is simply a jerk, but an interaction is transmogrified into evidence of racism; the disrespect might just be that person’s fundamental nature. Even so, a paranoiac will add this to a litany of racial grievances.
The only way to know if there’s a racial component to disrespect is how you’re treated by this individual relative to others of a different race. What if Portland is simply filled with jerks/ smug idiots? When you’re a Black person surrounded by sneering white pompous snobs, who sneer at other whites just as much, give it try and say “it’s all relative.”

And that truth goes both ways: if a lot of people treat you like you’re a creep, maybe, just maybe, you’re a creep. If POC are the only people who treat you well, maybe they, on a group basis, are consciously overriding their honest opinion of you, in some kind solidarity, overriding their real feelings.
I hope most people of all races reject this author's divisive, nasty, self-righteous hypocrisy and myopia.
Um....slavery. The segregation that followed. I'm done listening to white bros rationalize their anger and frustration with their lives into a freaking white pride movement. The playing field isn't level yet. Sorry you are pissed about some portion of your lives going unfulfilled, but acknowledge that you have it easier than most. And work harder.
That's why I sleep with as many women as possible, that way there will be no racism as everyone will one day "look like me"! The most racist country is North Korea -- it's time for POC to move there, as there is no diversity. POC who don't move to North Korea or at least China are guilty of racism by simply being complacent.