(June 1, 2020) - Recent events been incredibly tragic and painful, including but not limited to the murder of George Floyd. These violent incidents yet again highlight the tragedy of racism that continues to infuse our United States culture. Heartfelt compassion goes out to George Floyd’s family and friends, and to the black communities in Portland and throughout our nation that have endured generations and centuries of trauma and grief. This history is sadly current.
The killing of George Floyd, and outpouring of protests, are taking place on top of the grim milestone of our country surpassing 100,000 COVID deaths, with African Americans disproportionately impacted. After many difficult weeks living with the COVID-19 pandemic, I know that many of you in our community are feeling tired, sad, anxious, angry, frustrated, or afraid. You may be experiencing a lot of different feelings at once – I certainly am. If you need help, please know that Multnomah County operates a free 24/ mental health helpline: 503-988-4888, and offers additional assistance: https://multco.us/mhas/mental-health-crisis-intervention You can report acts of hate to Portland United Against Hate at www.ReportHatePDXcom.
Please read The City of Portland Equity Director, Dr. Markisha Smith’s Facebook post. I appreciated hearing her honestly and perspective. In this hour, our black community is hurting. We as a community must come together constructively. Please reach out to each other, check on your friends, neighbors, and colleagues to see how they are doing – especially our black and African American neighbors.
As Mayor Ted Wheeler said: “We have to do better. We have to be willing to stand alongside our black community and not just call out racism when we see it, but meaningfully take a stand against it. We have to be willing to interrogate our own biases and the ways in which we have been complicit in the structuring of a society that makes black death routine.”
I commit today to not being silent. To having conversations about racism with my friends and family. To questioning when and how I am complicit in systemic racism. To do the uncomfortable work of exploring when and how I am racist. To checking in with our employees of color and listening to their feelings and experiences and learning from them. And I encourage all of us to look honestly at our own biases and do our own work to help right inequities and dismantle racist systems that continue to harm people of color.
We are one community. We are proud of our diversity. Let’s look out for each other. - Mike Jordan, BES Director