Living/Working in Oregon While Black

Living in this broken system known as america can be very discouraging

Living in this broken system known as america can be very discouraging but it can be even more discouraging living in a state where you know that you weren’t supposed to be even a part of. See Oregon is not a progressive we are actually far from it, we are actually a white supremacy state that is currently working towards progress but is not quite there yet. We still struggle with making space for other people of color but especially our black men and womxn. Majority of industries are ran by white males, here in Oregon and sadly the cannabis industry here is no different.

If you know the history of Oregon, you would know starting in 1844 that several exclusionary laws passed stopping the migration of blacks and later on Chinese folks to Oregon. 15 years before Oregon became a state a person who led this charge was Peter Burnett a former slaveholder from Missouri and who would also go on to become the first american governor of California.

He put forth a law that was passed by Oregon's provisional government during that time that would allow slave holders to keep their slaves for a maximum of three years. After the grace period, all black people those considered freed or enslaved were required to leave Oregon country. Black womxn were given three years to get out; black men were required to leave in two. Those who refused to leave could severely whipped, the provisional government law declared, by “not less than twenty or more than-nine stripes” to be repeated every six month until they left. This law was soon repealed it was known as the Peter Burnett Lash Law. But again in 1848, the territorial government once again passed a law making it illegal for any “Negro or Mulatto” to live in Oregon Country Once again pushing us out of the territory once again. Entering in the Union as a Whites Only State, and stayed that way all the way up until 1922.

So, when I sit here and listen to folks call this a blue state or we are such a progressive state. I laugh because we are very much purple and not all that progressive. I will give us credit that we do some things well but we still very much need to get our shit together. Education is down the shitter, there is no transition between high school education and higher education. No one to help transition us smoothly from one part to another. Portland is one of the most growing cities to date but they continue to output people of color because we don’t fit in with “the new scene of Portland.” we are now getting kicked to the suburbs. Our cannabis industry that should be becoming a diverse industry since those that were is becoming another white washed, male dominated field full of corporate folks who could give a damn about people of color.

So how can this be solved, you might wonder. The only way I see this working and really start breaking down the fundamentals of this broken system. Is if we start a migration of people of color towards this state but that also means that our state has to do some real soul searching and actually break down the systems of white supremacy that this state has been founded on. That includes addressing the racist police problem that we have especially here in Portland; getting rid of folks that are especially involved our government that are not actively trying to fix the situation. We need more folks especially white folks who actually walk the talk and just don’t put up Black Lives Matter Signs in there lawns. We need more folks to understand that without these changes nothing will change here in Oregon. Especially here in the cannabis industry or any other industry for that matter.

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