Category Archives: How we see it



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Deeply Saddened

I am deeply saddened by recent news of the death of Harry Alford, founder of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. I was equally saddened by the death of his wife Kay just a few months earlier. I wish I could convey to the black community the magnitude of this loss and its adverse impact on the black business community. Harry and Kay were giants and visionaries in the area of black business development. I did not always agree with their political alignment, but overall, you could not argue with their fearless advocacy for black businesses.

Harry was in Portland a few years back exploring the development of a Black Chamber. Many years ago, I attempted to stand up a chapter in Portland but found it too overwhelming.  I could not finalize the action due to the founding of the National Association of Minority Contractors local chapter during that same period. Tinkering with the development of a black business chamber has persisted ever since the days of the National Business League formation in the early seventies. In Portland, unscrupulous black people liked this concept and have tried to exploit it over the decades.  In recent days we have had some precarious attempts to put together a black chamber chapter. Unfortunately, it is proposed by unscrupulous individuals destined to fail. You can tell the economic viability and health of a black community by the prominence or the lack thereof of a thriving Black Business Chamber. So, what’s Black Portland’s Economic health status?

RIP Harry and Kay

Georgia on my Mind

Georgia On My Mind.

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I am beginning to love the of state of Georgia. All my life I’ve thought of the South as a foreign country hostile to black people. My folk is originally from Mississippi and I never heard anything good from them about that state or the surrounding states. But in the last year or so I began to change my opinion specifically about Georgia. If you think about it, Georgia saved our beacon in the last election. And it had to be a bunch of rednecks who saw how ridiculously crazy Trump was and couldn’t stand it anymore. Fast forward to today’s Ahmaud Arbery verdicts and again, a mostly white jury rescues the country from racist insanity. Southern white people in Georgia are Heroes, re-establishing some sense of justice. They get my applause and application. Thank God for decent, fair-minded white people, especially those in the South. The discernment is not universal, less we forget Rittenhouse and Wisconsin.

Pastor Hennessee Steps Up.

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Pastor Hennessee Steps Up

I am so glad one of our acknowledged community leaders is stepping up to support common-sense measures to improve the safety and liveability of Portland. Thanks, Rev. Hennessee.  Those who consider themselves leaders and are now slilent are contributing to the problem. We must immediately knock down those insane ideas of defunding the police and give Ted Wheeler the ability to show a backbone. He needs to and stop trying to act like he is mending the fence after letting all horses out the gate. Again, try to heal the damage JoAnn Hardesty has caused and make sure there is broad-based community oversight.

Portland is now a spooky, dirty and unsafe city on Halloween 2021

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Portland is now a spooky, dirty and unsafe city on Halloween 2021

I’m not a Halloween guy but since it’s Halloween I want to tell you why I’m scared.  Look around Portland you can see how bad things have gotten and this is enough to make anybody scared. It’s spooky that the City is in such a mess. I can’t help but think about what Daryl Turner said, something like “this town has turned into a cesspool”. I have to agree with him. I just wanted everybody to know it doesn’t have to be this way. I hold all these public elected officials responsible at all levels.
I just returned from Indianapolis, my home town and never in my life would I have predicted I would say that Naptown is a cleaner, better ran city than Stumptown. It is truly a tale of two cities and Indy wins hands down.
I don’t want to criticize without trying to do something about it. That’s why I support the Coalition Black Men with their graffiti abatement program and have joined People for Portland’s effort to hold elected officials accountable for their lack of leadership.
The big thing is, I am going to work hard to get JoAnn Hardesty removed from office. I will work just as hard to get her out as I did to help her get elected. She is a problem and not a solution. I made a big mistake supporting her.

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Portland is sick:

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Billy Webb Elks will Rebound

This is our place

The fire at Billy Webb Elks last week brought sad thoughts about how fragile black institutions and organizations continue to be. It is not the first time I have witnessed a boarded-up Elks (see before 2008 remodel). The truth is that many of us have recognized it is and continues to be one of the few black-owned and led properties and organizations of any size in Oregon. So, it is sad to watch this incident after so many well-meaning, community-mined people of all races worked so hard to build up this property and organization. But let’s be clear, black people are absolutely resilient and they may be down, but don’t count us out.
Since its remodel by NAMC-Oregon (the National Association of Minority Contractors) in 2008 the building has served multiple community purposes. It has been the go-to place for all kinds of community events focused on making the community a better place to live and inspiring us to live a better life. This summer it became a popular place for a Street Market and Pop Up Entrepreneurs. It was beautiful watching the young people do their thing and the building being used as an instrument for black progress. Let’s get busy and help them get back up and running again soon.


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.

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Forty Acres and a Mule


My summary of the AVT Juneteenth zoom event is as follows:

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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.

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The Mercury Tries to make Hay

The Mercury tries to make hay with the Black I-5 dispute.

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But here is my response:

Ms. Garica,

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.

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.

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.

James Posey



Has any thing changed since my DJC OP-ED was published in 2016?

Has any thing changed since my DJC OP-ED was published in 2016? 37

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.

Home / News / Commentary / Guest commentary / OP-ED: 2016 election comments are not about being ethnically inclusive

OP-ED: 2016 election comments are not about being ethnically inclusive

James Posey (Courtesy of NAMCO)

James Posey

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 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