01-19-2021  7:40 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
MLK Breakfast 2021 Watch Now
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Online Events Honouring Dr Martin Luther King are Underway

 From a jazz concert and a reading challenge to an online film festival we are all invited to celebrate Dr Martin Luther King and complete his work

Interview: Portland Physician on Coronavirus Vaccine, Reaching Out to Wary Communities

Black Americans report highest levels of distrust as country distributes millions of Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines

Blumenauer Calls for Resignations of Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise

Congressman Blumenauer said: "We need to ensure our Republican colleagues acknowledge and accept the consequences for their own involvement in encouraging this insurrection..."

Officials: Republican Lawmaker Let Protesters into Oregon Capitol

House Speaker Tina Kotek said during a news conference about the Capitol operations safety plan that Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence, had allowed protesters into the building.


St Andrew's Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Features Marilyn Keller

On Sunday, Jan. 17, the St. Andrew community will celebrate the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the 9:30...

VA Portland Ramping Up COVID-19 Vaccinations for Portland, Vancouver-area Veterans

Portland and Vancouver-area veterans 75 years of age and older to receive a phone call to schedule their COVID-19 vaccination. ...

NFL Reaches More Than $95M in Contributions to Further Advance Social Justice

The Oregon Justice Resource Center will use funding from the NFL to support the Women’s Justice Project – the first and only...

Oregon State Police Warns Against Armed Takeover of Capitol

The agency also asked Oregonians to report anyone who may be planning an armed takeover to authorities. ...

Oregon Marijuana Sales Soared in 2020, Topping $1B

Oregonians began buying a lot more recreational cannabis in March when Gov. Kate Brown instituted a stay-at-home order ...

Police: Thief berated mom for leaving kid in car he stole

BEAVERTON, Ore. (AP) — A car thief who found a toddler in the backseat of a stolen vehicle drove back and chastised the mother for leaving the child unattended before taking off again, police in Oregon said. The woman went into a grocery store about 15 feet (5 yards) from the car Saturday,...

12 arrested after blocking Interstate 5 lanes in Seattle

SEATTLE (AP) — Twelve people were arrested and two vehicles were impounded Monday after protesters blocked Interstate 5 in Seattle, the Washington State Patrol reports.Troopers responded to the scene, in the northbound I-5 collector-distributor lanes near James Street, at about 12:30 p.m....

Music City Bowl between Iowa and Missouri canceled

The Music City Bowl between Missouri and Iowa was canceled Sunday because COVID-19 issues left the Tigers unable to play.The game scheduled for Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee, is the second bowl called off since the postseason lineup was set on Dec. 20, joining the Gasparilla Bowl. Overall, 18...

No. 17 Iowa, Missouri renew rare rivalry in Music City Bowl

Missouri (5-5, SEC) vs. No. 17 Iowa (6-2, Big Ten), Dec. 30, 4 p.m. ESTLOCATION: Nashville, TennesseeTOP PLAYERSMissouri: RB Larry Rountree III has rushed for 972 yards and 14 touchdowns on 209 carries and ranks fourth in the SEC. He’s the 23rd SEC player to surpass 3,500 career yards...


This is America: White Privilege, Black Lives Matter, and Violence at the Capitol

The violence we witnessed in the United States Capitol on January 6 is nothing new. ...

SPLC Action Fund President: Attempted Coup Displays Organized, Extremist Violence Plaguing the United States

Insidious racism took the form of an American president openly encouraging with “love” violent extremists ...

Commentary: Exit in Disgrace

Will Trump leave in the middle of the night, embarrassed by his four years of crude, rude, lying, and beyond belief incompetence? Or will he be escorted out by a secret service detachment? ...

Georgia Senate Races Will Decide the Fate of Biden’s Presidency 

Voter turnout is reportedly lagging in the more rural and conservative areas of Georgia and is higher in more traditionally Democratic areas of the state ...


Oxygen-starved city in Brazil’s Amazon starts immunization

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The Amazonian city of Manaus in Brazil began administering vaccines against the coronavirus, providing a ray of hope for the rainforest’s biggest city whose health system is collapsing amid an increase in infections and dwindling oxygen supplies.Amazonas state...

AP-NORC poll: Virus, economy swamp other priorities for US

WASHINGTON (AP) — Containing the coronavirus outbreak and repairing the economic damage it has inflicted are the top priorities for Americans as Joe Biden prepares to become the 46th president of the United States, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public...

South Africa's trailblazing Black food writer dies of virus

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa's trailblazing Black food writer Dorah Sitole's latest cookbook was widely hailed in December as a moving chronicle of her journey from humble township cook to famous, well-traveled author.The country's new Black celebrity chefs lined up to praise her as a...


Phil Spector's death resurrects mixed reaction from skeptics

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Phil Spector was viewed as a man with two distinct personas: The late music producer was regarded as a rock ‘n’ roll genius who elevated the genre with his “Wall of Sound” style in the 1960s and created hits for several big names from the...

Phil Spector, famed music producer and murderer, dies at 81

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Phil Spector, the eccentric and revolutionary music producer who transformed rock music with his “Wall of Sound” method and who later was convicted of murder, has died. He was 81. California state prison officials said he died Saturday of natural causes at a...

Celebrity birthdays for the week of Jan. 24-30

Celebrity birthdays for the week of Jan. 24-30Jan. 24: Fiddler Doug Kershaw is 85. Singer Ray Stevens is 82. Singer Aaron Neville is 80. Singer Neil Diamond is 80. Actor Michael Ontkean (“Twin Peaks”) is 75. Country singer-songwriter Becky Hobbs is 71. Comedian Yakov Smirnoff is 70....


Tokyo Olympics Q&A: 6 months out and murmurs of cancellation

TOKYO (AP) — The Tokyo Olympics are to open in six months on July 23 and organizers have no public program...

Oxygen-starved city in Brazil’s Amazon starts immunization

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The Amazonian city of Manaus in Brazil began administering vaccines against the...

Exhausted hospital chaplains bring solace to lonely, dying

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Inside hospital rooms across America, where the sick are alone without family to comfort...

Oxygen-starved city in Brazil’s Amazon starts immunization

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The Amazonian city of Manaus in Brazil began administering vaccines against the...

Earthquake injures 3 in Argentina; tremor also felt in Chile

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck in northwestern Argentina near the border...

Thai court gives record 43-year sentence for insulting king

BANGKOK (AP) — A court in Thailand on Tuesday sentenced a former civil servant to a record prison term of...

MLK Breakfast 2021 Watch Now
Jairo Lerma Black Star News

As an AfroLatino New York City turns into Arizona at night because of Stop-and-Frisk Laws and my "undocumented" fears in case of an arrest.

Even though the Obama Administration okayed Deferred Action, it's still not enough. My mother brought me into this country legally at age 7 because of the lack of opportunities for Black men in my country. After our visa expired we kept living a regular life; but for me everything changed.

I followed all the instructions while in school. I had good grades, engaged with my new friends even though I had an accent.

In July 2008 my life went from being an accepted member of society to being an undocumented man full of shame. I was born In Buenaventura, Colombia, which is mostly populated by Afro-Colombians affected by poverty and violence.

At the age of 7 came to the United States with my mom and sister with a B1 Tourist Visas. My mom was fascinated with life in the USA and always wanted for me to have a better education here. We returned to Colombia with the promise that we would return to admire that New World of opportunities.

At the age of 9 my mom traveled back to the U.S. in search of a job before her visa expired. Because of the violence in Buenaventura, my mother brought me to the New Strange world; but this time, to stay. She always felt my sister was a grown up who was used to life in Colombia so she left her behind. My mother helped her with her college education by saving money in the U.S.;today she is an Odontologist. As for me, I'm just a survivor.

In 2005 my mother was deported because of her status; she overstayed her Visa. I refused to leave all my friends and professors so I promised her to achieve an education.

I attended Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice. Not many people get accepted into this school. The school was new and designed by Black New York City Legislative Leaders. I was going to be attending this school and it made me proud. I got to wear ties for 4 years.

I struggled with my accent but it was part of my everyday life. School was the place where I started to learn about race and people. Being a Black-Latino was always a challenge because even though I look like many Black Americans I never fit in anywhere. I always felt like I was between a sword and a wall -- Entre La Espada y La Pared.

My immigration nightmare started from the beginning of my Senior year, after filling in my application for the PSAT, reality set in. My heart dropped. I was in denial. I even went to the Social Security Office. The lady at the counter called me an "Illegal" and asked, "What are you doing here?"

I grew more shameful. It ate bits of my soul and I kept it a secret out of fear that I would be made fun of.

After living 2 years with my stepfather, a man I respect for his generosity in the sense of maintaining a child that was not his, my mom decided to have me live in Brooklyn with an aunt because my grades started falling. That was never accepted by my mother who is a very educated woman.

I had to share a room with two uncles who woke up every morning at 4:45am. I had to be in school at 7am. I was naive and scared of my surroundings I hadn't integrated well before, so this new neighborhood scared me. I moved to Flatbush. My neighborhood was filled with people of color and it reminded me of life in Buenaventura, my native city. There were a lot of Blacks, many Caribbean, most of them middle class. For the first time in my life I could feel proud of being Black with a mentality of an immigrant and feel at home united by skin color.

After graduating High School I applied to many SUNY schools and got accepted. However, because of my immigration status I was always scared to go to upstate New York since it was full of conservatives and the cost of tuition was out of my reach.

I enrolled in a CUNY school; BMCC. I would be paying full tuition out of my pocket, while working in a restaurant, construction and many low-paying jobs. Because of my level of English I was always a translator between the people in the kitchen. I was always proud of my ability to help both sides. Everyone at work was happy; I was in school and at least trying to take advantage of the opportunities they never had.

Tuition kept increasing and I was forced to skip a year. I transferred into a new CUNY program at John Jay College for Criminal Justice. I always wanted to be lawyer because of the things I would hear about Colombians who paid a lot of money to a lawyer only to be lied to.

Now, I'm 22 years old and I still live in fear.

Even though New York is know as a city of immigrants. I still live in a constant fear because of Stop-and- Frisk. This program by the Bloomberg Administration and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, gives power to police officers to search "suspicious" individuals supposedly for any "concealed weapons".

The City claims the program prevents thousands of deaths; but officers need better training in social relations with the community.

They should at least have a supervisor that keeps control of the cops that abuse their power. I have been a victim of random searches by the police, but is not the fear of being arrested, it is fear because of my immigration status. My immigration status turns New York, the city that I love, into Arizona.

I'm a double target. I could be arrested for a violation like hopping the turnstile or driving without a license, be fingerprinted and that can lead to deportation. Many immigrants get taken without the right to counsel.

I'm currently an activist for The New York State Youth Leadership Council and Cabrini Immigrant service. I'm still trying to pursue my education but it has become very difficult due to economic reasons and Governor Cuomo's irresponsible behavior towards the New York State Dream Act.

One relief for many Dreamers like myself was having Deferred Action. I'm still waiting for my response so I could start driving and obtain a Social Security since all I've been using was an ITIN; Individual Tax ID Number.

I'm coming out the shadows, with this piece, demanding Congress and the Senate to pass the Dream Act and Comprehensive Immigration Reform for all the 11 million living in the shadows filled with discrimination and violence.

Violence from many, including the police, because of their immigration status. Stop the dehumanization of people. I'm willing to speak out as one of the many voices of young Latinos.

We are misunderstood by society and it is important to speak out. I shared my story with the world to voice out my struggle and my commitment to everyone in my community.

Jairo Lerma is an Afro-Latino youth activist and champion for the New York Dream Act

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