As a White man who recently moved to North Portland from Northwest, I was disturbed to read the letter from L.K. in the Feb. 14 edition of The Portland Skanner titled "White Tide caused Assault."
I moved to North Portland because it was close to my work, had good TriMet access, was affordable, and because I was looking forward to living in a culturally diverse neighborhood.
After reading L.K.'s letter, I feel that I am not welcome here because of the color of my skin. She says I should understand why people hate me and want to beat me up for having the audacity to move into "their neighborhood." I understand that racism targeted at African Americans is alive and well in Portland, and Portland has a sad history of discrimination. Maybe I am unqualified to really understand the anger having never been a target, but I understand why anger exists. I just feel that reverse discrimination is not a solution.
Let's just reverse the scenario. Suppose that African Americans started moving into a previously all-White neighborhood. Then some of them were getting beaten up for "changing the neighborhood and changing the culture." Then they were told to understand why Whites hate them and to expect to be beaten up, and maybe if they lay low and didn't open Black-owned establishments and tried to fit in more, maybe things wouldn't be so bad. Sound familiar? Unfortunately we all know that scenario, because racism is all too familiar in this country. Well now we have the same scenario in North Portland, except Whites are the targets not the attackers.
The fact is that Portland has a housing shortage, and an acute shortage of affordable housing. We are not New York City, where you can have an Italian neighborhood, and a Chinese neighborhood and an African American neighborhood. We don't have that luxury any more. Change is a fact of life in this city. Keep in mind, in the 1930's Northeast Portland was an all-White neighborhood. Today, every neighborhood in the city is changing. Just ask someone who lived in the Pearl 10 years ago.
Rodney King asked, "Why can't we all just get along?" Well, in North Portland, we better learn to get along — or do we prefer wars over street turf? I propose that L.K. and others not only teach their children that violence is wrong, but that hate is also wrong. I propose that we work together as a community to promote acceptance of diversity. Diversity also means accepting White folks who dress up like they are in the Tour de France and drink lattes. We have to learn to respect and tolerate each other; we no longer have any choice.
Jon Bolnick of Portland