About 40 people gathered at Quartet Restaurant, June 6. The event offered an opportunity to strengthen the network of people working to overcome the many disparities that still afflict Portland's communities of color.
After the event, people told us they had benefited from the opportunity to gather and learn from one another.
Guests at the event included leaders at the forefront of crucial issues such as: reducing child poverty, improving access to jobs and contracts, creating pathways to educational success and fighting for police accountability.
Some have been working for more than a decade to help Portland move closer to true equity for communities of color.
Unfortunately the good work that took place at the event has been overshadowed by inappropriate remarks. Mayor Hales policy advisor Baruti Artharee erred in the way he introduced Multnomah County Commissioner, Loretta Smith.
We regret that this happened.
The Skanner News sponsored the event to support the effort to build a sustainable network that will promote equity throughout our community. We believe this controversy simply underscores how necessary that effort is.
Since the event, Artharee has apologized. He says he understands his attempt at humor was inappropriate.
The mayor has asked the city's Human Resources Department to investigate. They should do so as quickly as possible and move toward a resolution that allows everyone to move forward.
In fact, we believe the incident simply proves how much work still needs to be done to raise awareness about equity issues across our city.
Whether we are talking about gender, race, culture or ability: treating one another with dignity and respect must be at the heart of everything we do. And when it comes to schools, services and the workplace, that respect must include fairness and equality of opportunity for all.
Yet equity failings are pervasive, and can come from anyone in our society from leaders in positions of great power to the least powerful among us. This is not a problem that is out there somewhere. It belongs to all of us.
We have many, many important and pressing issues facing us in Portland -- and equity lies at the heart of them all.