NAACP Portland Branch 1120 Leads the way to “Removing the Thorns Of Racism In Portland Oregon (The City Of Roses)”
By E. D. Mondainé
V.P. NAACP AWOSAC / President NAACP Portland Oregon
In 2019 answering the call to the alarming number of racially biased issues continues to be an unfortunate and consistent mission for the NAACP Portland Branch: blatant racism in the hanging of nooses in public places, the threat of the killing African-American students, the wearing of blackface and other forms of racism displayed openly in our high schools. Our African-American students are targets of jeering and monkey-like noises, in addition to inappropriate, egregious statements.
We contacted the Superintendent of the school districts where these actions were perpetrated, leading to way to the formation of a committee of educators, superintendents, community leaders, and students mandated to address deliberate methods of supporting the intersection of cultures with the assurance that curriculum would celebrate the achievements and contributions of people of color.
Almost a year ago we were introduced to an issue surrounding a violation of civil rights in the alleged racial profiling of Jermaine Massey at one of Portland’s Doubletree Hotel locations. Once again the NAACP led the way in answering the call and demanding accountability. Working with the hotel management, we created the pathway to address the issue and improve accountability for the future: that the hotel security officer involved be terminated immediately, that all others involved be held accountable, to implement immediate training and an assessment of the hotel’s employee training, and development guidelines with respect to how much of their policies focus on racial inclusion and diversity. We facilitated the co-sponsorship of community forums to raise the awareness of racism in our city, resulting in an ongoing, productive conversation with black men of our community surrounding the issues of racial profiling and racism with guest speaker, artist, and civil rights activist Rev. Sekou. We completed our effective year of leadership with the NAACP’s 105th-year gala: “Removing the Thorns of Racism in the City of Roses”. Speakers included:
- Mayor Ted Wheeler
- Congressman Earl Blumenauer
- Oregon State Senator Ron Wyden
- Dr. Danny Jacobs – Pres. OHSU
- Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty
- Andrew Hoan, Pres. Portland Business Alliance
- Jeff Miller Pres. / CEO Travel Portland
- Ramon Ramírez, Pres. Farmworker Housing Development Corporation
- Oregon State Senator Lew Frederick
These business and political leaders were called upon to publicly share three measurable actions to remove the thorns of racism using the platforms in which they serve.
While some businesses and organizations fail to satisfy requests set forth to improve cultural relations, others see the value in making the necessary changes to educate and engage the whole community. Natural Grocers was thrust into the news when an African-American businesswoman noticed a noose hanging from the mirror of a car on the Natural Grocer’s lot. When she approached management to make them aware of her finding she was taken aback to find out that the owner of the vehicle was the store’s manager. The NAACP reached out to Natural Grocers and they immediately took action. They agreed to dismiss the manager and implement diversity training. They have also agreed to engage a local diversity consultant to train in the area of inclusion and cultural awareness. Natural Grocers signed onto the Removing the Thorns of Racism platform by becoming an NAACP Corporate member with a commitment to continuing to support the effect of annihilating racism in every community but especially the communities that Natural Grocers serves. They have issued a joint statement with the NAACP declaring their commitment to activism towards social and racial justice.
We cannot lay the burden of the eradication of racism on the shoulders of local corporations alone. However, we can hold them accountable as corporate community leaders to do their due diligence to raise a flag to the issues that threaten healthy communities wherever they operate.
2019 has been a busy year for the Portland Branch NAACP.
Just over a year ago on November 6, 2018, Portlanders in large margins voted in favor of funding clean energy projects to benefit frontline communities.
Portland voters adopted Ballot Measure 26-201, the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Initiative (referred to hereafter as the Clean Energy Surcharge or CES). CES imposes a 1% surcharge on specific retail sales within Portland of certain large retail corporations.
This was the first initiative In Oregon’s history to be led by communities of color. The Portland Branch NAACP took the lead on this effort in cooperation with the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), Verde, Coalition of Communities of Color, 350 PDX, and Oregon Chapter, Sierra Club.
The culmination of years of capacity building partnerships among organizations of color and the grassroots community has signaled the arrival of a powerful force, ushering in a new movement of inclusion that has the potential to win elections for communities and bring about a more just society nationwide.
On October 10, 2018 the city of Portland, Oregon passed an ordinance requiring the owners of unreinforced masonry buildings (URMs) display a sign declaring them unsafe in the event of an earthquake, file an agreement with the county recorder’s office, place a mark on their property titles that could make it even more difficult for communities of color to attain financing to make structural improvements.
NAACP Portland branch President Mondainé compared the labeling of earthquake-unsafe buildings to the city’s decision in the 1960s to label more than 150 African American-owned buildings in the Albina neighborhood as “blighted,” an unjustifiably vague label that allowed the city to enforce eminent domain and indiscriminately demolish buildings. Mondainé and fellow black community leaders called on the city to halt the placarding program and start the entire URM policymaking process over—only this time, making sure the African-American community was involved. The Portland City Council voted on Wednesday, October 23, 2019, to end a city policy requiring signs on brick buildings warning they may collapse during a major earthquake.
Most recently, we stood with Corvallis branch NAACP when a young, bi-racial African-American college student was arrested for riding her bicycle. We stood with the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation workers—advocating for change and equity. Today, that system is being restructured to level the playing field for the benefit of all workers.
As we close out the year we know the true enemy of all people is still out there. One day at a time, one step at a time, we will continue to stand up to hate in all its forms until true peace and inclusion are realized.
Battle erupts between minority business owners and Portland Medicaid transportation provider – By Elizabeth Hayes | Staff Reporter, Portland Business Journal – Updated Apr 5, 2019 – http://bit.ly/NAACP-NEMT
Noose spotted in Natural Grocers employee’s car in Northeast Portland – By Andrew Theen | The Oregonian/OregonLive – Updated May 30, 2019; Posted May 24, 2019 – http://bit.ly/NAACP-Natural-Grocers
Hotel guest evicted from DoubleTree for talking on the phone in the lobby – By Aimee Green | The Oregonian/OregonLive – Updated Oct 09, 2019; Posted Oct 09, 2019 – http://bit.ly/NAACP-DoubleTree
Portland ends the requirement to publicly label buildings seismically unsafe – By Everton Bailey Jr. | The Oregonian/OregonLive
Posted Oct 23, 2019 – http://bit.ly/NAACP-URM
Oregon State student biking on the wrong side of the road arrested after refusing to give officer ID – By Konstantin Toropin and Eric Levenson Updated October 24, 2019 – http://bit.ly/NAACP-Riding-While-Black
E. D. Mondainé
V.P. NAACP AWOSAC /
President NAACP Portland Oregon