Sometimes we take for granted those who make a difference in our community. I had a brief opportunity to show my appreciation to O.B. Hill at his 80th birthday celebration this past weekend. We are friends and I have collaborated with him in several community organizations and events. He truly is a unique individual with multiple talents. Among his talents is his ability to capture, chart, and display historical black events in Portland. We lost the display part when the Reflections Coffee/Book store closed several years ago. But O.B. at 80 continues to capture and chart Portland’s history through a black community lens. Check him out because he is a real Portland treasure.
Parenting and Opportunities Matter
My summary of the AVT Juneteenth zoom event is as follows:
Yesterday I sat in on the Albina Vision Trust (AVT) Juneteenth zoom, which was an effective theatrical production. The star of the show was Rukalyah and was directed by Steven Green and Cupid Alexander. They played the Avel Gordly (for who I have always had high respect) tribute to full effect and preached high rhetoric about the virtues of the Albina Vision. I could not help to think that many of these same individuals signed on to the disgraced former NAACP president E.D. Mondaine’s agenda and went down that rabbit hole with his vision and leadership. Rukalyah waxed eloquently about flying high on the wings of a dove to bring the black community back together again.
And as I listen to talk about this utopian vision described as blue skies and bliss on the top of the highway covers, I kept thinking; these are the same folks who can’t keep our streets clean, stop the scaring and trashing of our highway corridors, stop the encroachment of the homeless camps, arrest the graffiti criminals destroying property everyday, close the education achievement gap, and keep our police force from being in a state of chaos and stop gun violence. Yet, they would have all of us believe that they can execute a plan to make black people whole. They are the ones envisioning a promised land for black people on top of a heavily traveled highway. I kept thinking I do not need to rain on this parade about Juneteenth and the national holiday but I am not feeling free. White people are going to continue to commercialize this event like they have done the MLK holiday and black people will still be broke-ass poor and begging. Just give me my 40 acres and mule and stop the BS.
A new twist in AVT’s mantra revealed in this meeting was the advent of a world-class workforce incorporated in the Vision. I guess this was a way to throw a bone to the black contractors and blue-collar opposition to the Vision. I guess some one realized that there is the question of what comes first, the chicken or the egg. It has dawned on somebody that their perceived utopia cannot be sustained without the inhabitants having the ability to pay the rent. However, they continue to mislead the community about the consequences of a delay in the process. They continue to attribute this to mischief by ODOT attempting to divide the black community and ODOT seeking to deny black people access to stolen land.
Finally, it was tragic to hear Earl Blumenauer admitting that black people pay more in gas taxes and contribute more to the carbon foot print than whites. Yet he knows this is taxation without representation and has watched for decades billions of dollars flow into Oregon’s economy and black people receive next to zero economic benefits. His hypocrisy and those who collaborate with him are breathtaking. Albert Lee knows what I am talking about.
I was thinking as I listened to these folks, what universe do they live in? Living down the street from Dawson Park keeps me grounded and I could not hear what the AVT zoom presenters were saying, because I can see what they do.
Happy Father’s day to the ultimate Father who art in Heaven.
The Mercury tries to make hay with the Black I-5 dispute.
But here is my response:
While I thought, your article did explain the generic thoughts expressed in the NAACP meeting it failed to discuss the underlying concerns of some community members. First, the AVT vision is a concept proposal and an approach with no proven performance anywhere. While they try to dress it up with a few well-known black leaders, at its core are white developers with no proven commitment or evidence of economic empowerment for the black community. In fact, to the contrary, at least one of them has made a fortune off the misery of black people while fostering token inclusion partnerships. http://www.golocalpdx.com/search/fb91595de3e5159d44c6fde6384eb9eb/
Next, many of us question the viability of putting low-income housing on top of a highway knowing that Portland is adjacent to or on an earthquake fault line and we all are waiting for the Big One. We also see the hypocrisy of screaming about air pollution at Tubman middle school while fostering a highway cover housing project most likely to end up like Cabrini Green but be worst because it will function as an auto emissions tailpipe to the heavens. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Cabrini-Green
Then there is the doublespeak about ownership scenarios, which amounts to long lease arrangements at best. In addition, if the AVT proposal sounds good in fantasy, the construction business and jobs model alternative are imperative in practice to reach any level of economic capacity and sustainable self-sufficiency within the Black community. Waiting or delaying instead of achieving both proposed objectives could mean losing both opportunities.
Finally, AVT puts a target on ODOT’s back when they know that all of the government agencies are complicit in the demise of black people’s circumstances in this community. They have given cover to the City of Portland, Metro, Prosper Portland, Multnomah County, and others who contribute to ongoing racist institutionalized systems responsible for the dire economic conditions that hobble the black community. It is irresponsible journalism to neglect that aspect of the story.
As someone who has seen the various movements to improve the economic conditions of black people, I know that programs might have good intentions but in real life, it is the execution that has failed the best-laid plans. The construction business model offered is unique (like nowhere in the country) and is pre-imminent in its ability to execute a restorative/restoration plan. I have seen it. The problems and issues of the black community will never be solved in the absence of a proven execution agent.
I can deal with it when known racist work against us but it is hard when our own people try to sabotage our progress intentional or not.
OP-ED: 2016 election comments are not about being ethnically inclusive
I for one am not surprised by the content of the Op-Ed in the Nov. 16 Daily Journal of Commerce in which Mike Salsgiver, the executive director of Associated General Contractors’ Oregon-Columbia chapter (AGC) celebrated the silent majority’s votes in the national election. The truth is that Mike and his cohorts have never actually been silent. They have screamed their positions through their policies of exclusion, indifference and outright, i.e., ‘alt-right,’ opposition to minorities and other nonwhite-male exclusion on contracts for jobs in Oregon’s highly-profitable construction industry.
The recent election has emboldened him and others like him to embrace these discriminatory and racist practices further. Some of us think they can now take the sheets out of the closets. All one has to do is review the many studies that have shown for decades that minorities shared next to nothing economically on Oregon construction projects. It’s an embarrassment that rivals only the election of Donald Trump.
But as Salsgiver unknowingly said, this is not the first time the country has retrenched. I also remember the Reagan revolution over 50 years ago, which I believe worked feverishly to contain and eliminate racial progress envisioned by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Among other efforts made by the Reagan administration, blacks and other minorities got shortchanged by the appointment of Supreme Court justices who shared Salsgiver’s notion of the nation going in the wrong direction. And indeed he’s right about one thing: There is an ill wind blowing in America as whites all across the country are moving to protect their left and right flanks.
All the talk about the blackening and browning of America has translated into fear of the inevitable. It’s a call for all hands on deck to protect the myth of white supremacy. Surely this is history repeating itself. That’s why it was so easy for Salsgiver to talk about the winning candidate’s knock on the media and the Washington establishment while ignoring Trump’s flirtation with white nationalists, his assault on Muslims and other minorities and his many other inflammatory statements. It appears Mike, like his presidential choice, is willing to sell his soul to his white constituents to gain and retain power, like in an ugly episode of the “Game of Thrones.”
As for opinions that Oregon is bucking national trends, the Democrats articulated a lot of rhetoric about diversity and inclusion. But the record is clear: they have not done much better than their Republican counterparts in fostering serious economic inclusion for minorities. As well, it has been reported that white women voted for Donald Trump in overwhelming numbers. As well they should because it is only rational. The fact is they, along with their white male counterparts, are the primary beneficiaries of white privilege, their gender notwithstanding. Hence, look no further at who is benefiting from Oregon’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) programs.
Across the country, white people, regardless of party affiliation or gender, are closing ranks against what they perceive as the onslaught of people of color taking over. Salsgiver will never concede that blacks have never had an economic recovery and continue to live with economic conditions inherited from slavery and the Jim Crow era. The plight of blacks’ economic depravity in America is not in most whites’ consciousness. That’s why despite the fact that white Democrats controlled most of Oregon’s governance for decades, black Oregonians continue to sink further into economic despair. This factor represents the highest level of government imbalance, but it is unlikely that organizations like AGC will ever voice these sentiments.
However, what Salsgiver is not discussing in the defeat of Measure 97 is the resistance on the part of the white, rich and powerful to any change in the status quo. Those with power and money want to keep things that way, and they will not tolerate any encroachment.
On the other hand, AGC lauds its support of Measure 98, which is a commonsense measure promising to benefit all Oregonians. What is not said is that Oregon has had a consistent history of excluding people of color from all efforts to train and develop workers, especially in the construction trades. We have no reason to believe it will be any different with the passing of Measure 98. Keep an eye on AGC to see if it will advocate addressing the disparities in the complexion of those being trained for Oregon’s future workforce under Measure 98. We can only hope they will because this is one area where minorities and AGC are potentially on the same page.
We are also potentially on the same page with the prospects of massive infrastructure spending, under Republicans, but only if the formula changes from the disgusting statistics that nearly 0 percent of all the contracts go to blacks and other minorities while 99.5 percent of all contracts go to whites. AGC never speaks about this imbalance in government.
Don’t be fooled. AGC and its cohorts have always had at least one hand on the steering wheel. Backed by big money, they continue to initiate and support many policies that are anti-minority and that have driven people of color into the ditch. They’ve cloaked it well over the last several years, but with the advent of the Donald Trump victory, they are willing to show their true colors. If we can believe history, the ride is about to get bumpier for minorities under a Trump- supported, Salsgiver/AGC administration.
A previous version of this column misidentified the company that James Posey previously owned. He is the former owner of Work Horse Construction.
(Editor’s note: The Op-Ed piece referred to in this guest commentary is a Buildings, Bridges & Roads column written by AGC Oregon-Columbia Executive Director Mike Salsgiver that was posted on DJCOregon.com on Nov. 15. The Salsgiver column also appeared on page 5 of the Nov. 16 print edition of the DJC newspaper.)
To submit a guest commentary, contact DJC Editor Stephanie Basalyga at 503-802-7222 or at sbasalyga@djcOregon.com.
More than a just a highway expansion.
For black people, It’s a chance to repair wrongs and chart our own destiny.
The I-5 Rose Quarter Project is a $650 million Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) construction project that is designed to help alleviate the bottleneck congestion on I-5 through the Rose Quarter corridor. The project will build a cap/lid on top of the freeway and complete some additional widening to speed the flow of traffic in this area.
Many of you may already be aware that this project is in the heart of the historic Albina neighborhood that at one time was a thriving
African-American community. Like the ‘urban development’ that happened to so many Black communities around the country, this community was targeted and decimated by many major infrastructure projects that routinely displaced minorities. Examples include the initial construction of I-5,
Memorial Coliseum, Emmanuel Hospital, the Oregon Convention Center, and many other Portland developments over the past 70 years.
The Black community was further destroyed by “redlining” and later the gentrification process that followed around this same time. Furthermore, to add insult to injury, the community did not receive any economic benefit as a result of the wealth that was created by these projects. Minorities were systematically locked out of employment opportunities and our businesses were unsuccessful at winning meaningful work through the diabolical utilization of federal wage rates, unions, low-bid, and pre-qualification policies.
For the first time in its more than 100-year history, ODOT is using the Construction Management/General Contractor alternative delivery method to procure this project instead of the traditional low-bid process. They hired general contractor Hamilton/Sundt Construction company, who subsequently teamed with Black-owned Raimore Construction, who is intimately tied to the community. The entire project team is empowered by ODOT to utilize this project to start the economic empowerment of Black and other minority communities through living-wage employment and entrepreneurship.
Understand, this is the same community that has historically been marginalized and oppressed by systemic policies that have institutionalized racism and white supremacy. We have an opportunity to start the process of restorative justice for our community. Although some development is included, it generally does not meet the needs of minority populations the way living wage jobs and entrepreneurship does. Indeed, living-wage employment is critical to homeownership, which is the biggest wealth creator for individuals, families, and small businesses and is the cornerstone to wealth creation for our nation.
The I-5 Rose Quarter project is a perfect catalyst to start this process due to its size and the fact that the construction will run over a 4 to 5-year period. It will create many living-wage jobs not only in the trades but in the areas of administration, engineering, project management, marketing, accounting, finance, human resources, and community relations. The duration of the project will provide an opportunity to go from entry employment to creating long-term living-wage career opportunities for our people. That is especially important because it generally takes 2-5 years to become a journeyman or to gain proficiency/competency in this work field.
As usual, community factions are working subversively to prevent this project from moving forward, including the No More Freeways group, the Elliot Neighborhood Association, and Portland Public Schools. Push back to these objections point to recently conducted traffic studies that show that idling stop-and-go traffic creates more pollution than free-flowing traffic. Subsequently, fixing this bottleneck should aid with reducing carbon emissions and thus increase and improve air quality. In contrast to this, the timing of PPS’s concerns about increased air pollution at Harriet Tubman MS is telling. Now they want to raise the pollution concerns for children, although this school has been attended by Black and Brown children for decades.
We all know that the health of the minority community has never been part of any environmental consideration, which is why the freeway was built through the heart of our community in the first place. Consequently, the levels of pollution were never questioned previously when the school was attended primarily by Black and brown children. Certainly, we all should be concerned about global warming and the environment and its impact on people, the community, and the world. It appears that environmentalists, the neighborhood associations, and uninformed communities are being bamboozled into fighting a battle to delay the building of this project for other disingenuous reasons.
Economics through living-wage jobs and industrial entrepreneurship has always been the goal and is essential to establishing and building a healthy and vibrant community. Black people must have consistent means of bringing dollars into their community. And once these dollars are in the community, we can now start the true re-building process by our own hands and build our wealth by keeping those dollars circulating throughout the community. This is the only way Black-owned businesses such as beauty and nail salons, barbershops, restaurants, art and entertainment venues, professional offices, and other service-oriented businesses get established and grow. They all make up a healthy vibrant community, all following and flowing from a strong economy.
Although it is not the only form of a developing economy, the construction industry is critical to a vibrant community. This is primarily due to the limited barriers to entry without the need to incur major capital or debt. All you need to be successful is to show up consistently, have a positive attitude and strong work ethic to establish a living-wage career in the field. In addition, there are many professional positions that one can grow into without requiring formal education, including becoming a small business owner which again is the cornerstone of wealth creation in this country.
To sum up, all these factors are why the I-5 Rose Quarter project is so important to Portland’s Black and other people of color communities. These various arguments against the project should not be allowed to impede its progress.
Like Tim Scott, there’s a New generation of Gate Keepers on the scene in Portland
New Gate Keepers blocking black economic progress.
It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I’d like to think that I have a historical lens and can see why things in Black Portland haven’t changed much or for the better in the last 40 years. One aspect of this sad situation stands out above all others and that is the evolution of the white-infused Black gatekeepers. Generationally, I guess I was hoping they would organically die out. But to my dismay, they have flourished across those broad boundaries.
These gatekeepers have been paid by white people to tell us that it ain’t all that bad and that they are working on changing it. And we should just look on the good side and count our blessings. For years these folks have been providing a false platform to give the impression that there is significant progress when in fact, there has been little. This circumstance is especially true for the masses of Blacks living in Portland. Now we have new black gatekeepers working surreptitiously on the part of white developers and newly arrived environmentalists scheming to impose a new vision that is ultimately designed to disenfranchise Black people again. In some cases, it might not be intentional but the results are the same.
The situation is reminiscent of the house Negro, the ‘field nigger’ dichotomy from slavery. These new-age house Negroes are constantly telling us, “the massa is OK”. What’s new and frightening about this whole NHN phenomenon is that they are even actively organizing others to misdirect us. They dare to criticize other Blacks for using social media to lay out their grievances and express their opinions. Hypocritically, on the other hand, they are willing to use social media to present grandiose visions and lie about the ultimate beneficiaries of their proposed visions.
So who ordained and endowed them with the special privileges to be the arbitrators of Black thought and disposition? Those self-aggrandize, self-serving operatives ought to shut up because if they haven’t already noticed, Black folks still have the highest unemployment, school dropout and incarceration rate, the lowest home and business ownership rate, and the highest health and wealth disparities rate than any other racial group. Indeed, the list just goes on.
While intent on establishing credibility among most Blacks by throwing out these illusionary visions and success bones, please note that these same NHN are equally engaged in discouraging any justifiable dissent. They rather we cover up the mess rather than expose it. They are constantly selling and pitching this utopian notion that we are on a path towards reconciliation and offering the “….. can’t we all just get along” BS.
There is a not-so-subtle attempt to fanaticize and romanticize current Black achievement and historical progress. But when put up against any white success, progress, and achievement, everybody knows we are way behind and have a profound right to be alarmed. But we can’t just be alarmed, we have to take action by any means necessary. We can’t be lulled to sleep by these compromising NHN’s, because like their predecessors, no matter what they say or claim, ultimately they mean you no good and are working at the behest of their “Masters.” Their actions are designed to assure no change in the status quo for us for another 240 years.
There are some distinct characteristics of these legendary Black gatekeepers to keep in mind:
- They constantly seek the face and favor of powerful and influential white people;
- They cultivate audiences and platforms focused on assimilating Blacks into the mainstream white world;
- They always speak metaphorically about Blacks’ progress;
- They see Black progress in increments, i.e., “ We got plenty of time to achieve white people status”; and
- They have made a great living financially over massaging the misery of Black people; and
- They want to mainstream black efforts seeking economic remedies for past racist injustices.
Hence, we should all beware of those who want to chastise and choke off Black dissent for the sake of Black unity and white acceptance. No more preaching pie in the sky while we wither on the vine. They are despicable and are perpetuating a façade dedicated to our demise. and overall, this is an affront to our economic survival and self-determination.
I thought going into 2021 we could leave behind the despicable people who misrepresented our values for honesty and decency. The former President of the Portland NAACP (E.D. Mondaine) was a straight-up disgrace and now he wants to try and rehabilitate is his horrible record with a disingenuous editorial of encouragement for the new leadership. It’s sad. This man is sick. Somebody needs to find him some help. As one other respondent to his article said, public officials who enabled him ought to apologize and acknowledge being complicit in his harm to the community. Until they do, it is also a stain on their leadership and character. And I don’t plan on letting them forget.
The Portland Observer newspaper ought not to be a platform for his poisonous lies and misrepresentations. And the Community ought to hold this paper accountable.