Category Archives: How we see it

Union Lies

Union Lies 2

One of the Biggest Lies Sam Adams ever told

On this Labor Day weekend, I could not resist discussing an ongoing controversy. For me, it is a long-standing attempt on the part of construction unions to deceive the general public about their continued lack of black people in their ranks at all levels. The deception comes when they try to convince public officials that they are just as progressive as the employee unions in achieving diversity. They have tried to align them with organizations like SEIU, Postal and auto maker unions. But contrary to the employee unions, their record of including black people locally and nationally is horrible.

What’s even more insidious is their successful effort over the last several years to get government agencies and union dependent politicians to institute gimmicks called Project Labor Agreements (PLAs or the misnomer, Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs). They have even infiltrated and deceived community-based organizations like the Urban League. Tragically they have used their considerable resources to compromise black newspapers, stack boards, and commissions with union lackeys. Wait there’s more; they have gone so far as to hire black union pimps to hustle us at black events and community gatherings.

They accuse me of being anti-union but they are wrong. I am just pro-black. And they can shut my month by just including commensurate numbers of blacks in the trades at all levels.


NAACP Details

NAACP Details 4

The only Negro on the panel

Folks just need to know that when the local chapter of the NAACP goes out in the community and starts advocating for stuff they must follow a National protocol. As members,  it is up to us to hold the leadership accountable.

So as you can see in the Bylaws (page 7), leadership must get approval from the national office before they run up in front of the cameras and start making speeches and pontificating.  That’s a good check on egotistic leaders. This is particularly true when they try to endorse or infer support for a politician.

Secondly, all major actions should be approved by the general membership as referred by the Executive Committee. This might be a less effective check since the President will most likely select a rubber stamp Executive Committee.

I  can provide the complete Constitution and Bylaws if you send me an email at

The numbers are still shockingly bad in 2019

The numbers are still shockingly bad in 2019 6The numbers are still shockingly bad in 2019

I needed to share this article written back in the day speaking to a condition known decades ago,  but still afflicting blacks today, especially in Portland Oregon. My beautiful daughter Leesha was the inspiration and to note that she is currently doing quite well despite my stated concern back then. The article goes like this:

Killing Us By The Numbers

James L. Posey, 4/9/1994

A few weeks ago my daughter, who’s attending college in Alabama, informed me that she got a “D” in her calculus class. After trying to cheer me up by explaining how great she did in the rest of her classes, she knew I would not easily get over this disappointment.


I’m disappointed because I have this great sense that Black people’s inability to deal with mathematics is killing them as surely as the rampaging use of crack cocaine. Our lack of understanding and appreciation for how it affects our daily lives is devastating. There is no question that African Americans continue to receive second class education in all areas. But to continue to allow ourselves to be deficient in this critical, life sustaining subject is nothing short of suicide.


But you don’t have to be a mathematical genius to see the handwriting on the wall. Math is the underlying foundation for nearly every activity in life. So it’s not so surprising as tragic that the numbers don’t look good for us in virtually every category. Just check out one of the few good works laying out numbers on Blacks life, the National Urban League’s annual status report,

“The State of Black America.” This report illustrates, in most cases by simple arithmetic, the fact that African Americans ain’t doing so good.


In economic terms, we seem to have a particular problem with addition and multiplications, and by default, are inclined to accept subtractions and division.  For example, over the last 10 years, Blacks, in comparison to whites and other minorities, have not gained in overall capital investments, in such areas as real estate or increased earning capacity. Yet, during the same period, we have lost ground in the number of Black corporate executives, as well as the number of minorities living above the poverty line.


Even closer to home, just check out the state of Black education in Portland. I’m surely no expert, but it should be abundantly clear that there is a direct correlation between how much money one can make and keep to invest and how extensive one’s use of math skills are in their chosen career field or personal life. For example, consider the area high schools and the major subjects taught at each. Benson HS, accordingly, is recognized as a magnet in the technical sector, electronics, and medical careers while Cleveland HS is a magnet school for business careers.


Now if you know in which schools Blacks are clustered, you have some idea as to the specialty fields they primary teach and promote. As I did, evaluate each school’s subject specialty in terms of approximately how many jobs are available in the range of careers and identify the average beginning salary or pay in today market place. There’s nothing scientific about this, but as I see it, the career prospects for Black youth as a group in this town are real scary.




Not only are the higher paying careers based on the use of math skills, they also have the better prospects for future long-term employment. In other words, people who have good math skills can almost always get a job or be trained for a better one.


And it’s not just about jobs. The conditioning of Blacks to avoid competencies in mathematics is used to economically oppress and deny Blacks opportunities all over the place. As Malcolm said we’ve been “had, hoodwinked, bamboozled”. Blacks in disproportionate numbers to the rest of population are subjected to all manner of fraud and manipulation by the numbers.


That why The Oregonian can write a glowing editorial about how well the Blazer Arena project has remodeled by using minority contractors and employees without really checking out what’s really behind the numbers. Who is likely to challenge them, not to mention the powerful Blazer organization? Surely, not those Blacks who are most adversely affected, in part because they are less likely to understand the convoluted statistics.


Speaking of newspapers, a few weeks ago Angela Wilson at The Skanner chastised me for playing what she called the “numbers game” in one of my articles about Black fronts. She basically inferred that it did not make a difference whether or not a business is 51% or a 100% owned by Blacks if neither were contributing back to the community. Well, of course, no one could argue against that assertion. I hope Angela will come to realize that this not a numbers game. But it is about numbers. I hope she will take time to study the correlation between the percentage of ownership of a business owned by a minority and their practices of contributing back. Here again, the numbers will speak for themselves.


Some Blacks don’t have the necessary math background to formulate their own bids or to make the critical calculations to run their own businesses. They become overly dependent on other groups that have higher math and other educational proficiency. This dependency makes it easy to justify fronting and all manner of compromising positions. You can apply this dependency to nearly every facet of Black life and realize the scope of the problem.


Yes, it is about the numbers, both quantity, and quality, and without them, we are dead.







Local 2016 Election Comments Are Not About Being Ethnically Inclusive

Local 2016 Election Comments Are Not About Being Ethnically Inclusive 7I for one am not surprised by the content of a November 15 OP-ED article in the Daily Journal of Commerce in which Mike Salsgiver, the executive director of Associated General Contractors (AGC) celebrated the silent majority’s votes in the national election.
(see below)

The truth is 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 non-white male exclusion on contracts for jobs in Oregon’s highly-profitable construction industry. Continue reading Local 2016 Election Comments Are Not About Being Ethnically Inclusive

As Malcolm X would say, “you’re been had, hoodwinked, bamboozled.”

Shortly after returning to Portland a few weeks ago, I was surprised to come across a recent article in the Daily Journal of Commerce titled, “Portland CBA Results Scrutinized”. The article takes up the issue of two Portland water bureau projects and raises several concerns in the process. The story refers to an independent evaluation report which portrays the pilot Community Benefits Agreement as not a “sweeping success”. It points to: high administrative cost for the same results; obvious financial conflicts of interest; overlapping and duplicating functions; poor management; inaccurate reporting; and weak compliance. That the city utilized this process and may still continue to do so in the future is troubling. Continue reading As Malcolm X would say, “you’re been had, hoodwinked, bamboozled.”

Finally, a True Black Prime Contractor at TriMet

It is a well-known fact that TriMet has been the perennial leader among governmental agencies for successful results in hiring and supporting minority contractors and workers over several decades. This history spans as far back as the 1982 I-84 Banfield Light Rail project. The chronology includes the Westside Hillsboro line, their signature Interstate Light Rail project, a series of local street car projects, the South Corridor I-205 MAX, the Milwaukie MAX and more.

Thus, TriMet’ s most recent action of awarding a major contract to Black-owned Raimore Construction is evolutionary and is the culmination of many years of struggle. Continue reading Finally, a True Black Prime Contractor at TriMet

White progressive liberals will not save us

How difficult is it for black people to admit that white progressive liberals will not save us. I,for one, was the man in the mirror when it came to supporting Charlie Hales. But he has been a terrible disappointment and showed himself to be exactly who he was as a former City Commissioner: a quitter. As that song says, “I should have known better.”

And now, on a national level, Black folks are facing the same dilemma in choosing between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for president. At first, both these candidates seem so committed and interested in solving the race problem. But as Michelle Alexander and Ta-Nahisi Coates have discussed, in most cases the actual performance always seems to fall frustratingly short of the reality.

On the local level, one would think to live in Oregon today, especially in Portland, the home of legalized marijuana and proud haven for same-sex couples, tree huggers unlimited, vegans galore and bastion for homelessness, the notion of racial equality would get some traction beyond nice sounding proclamations. Not so. These politicians are still playing the expectation game, creating powerless commissions and ineffective equity offices, and betting no one will call them on it.

If you’ve been in Portland long enough, this patterned of patronizing black people should scream out at you. Bud Clark, Vera Katz, Tom Potter, Sam Adams and now Charlie Hales have all   reigned over incompetence when it comes to racial issues. Some would like to blame it on the mayors alone. But they were aided by a cadre of other well-meaning public officials, including the likes of Mike Lindberg and Gretchen Kafoury.

Certainly with the best of intentions, Deborah Kafoury carries on the legacy of her mother as a less-than-effective civil rights promoter. For example, the management of the recent Sellwood Bridge project is wholesale evidence of her, Julies Bailey candidate for Portland Mayor, and all of Multnomah County, leadership’s hypocrisy about achieving equity outcomes (See So Blacks can be assured of generational malfeasance with regards to contracting equity issues unless things radically change.

Additionally, progress is questionable at the Governor’s office because Kate Brown refuses to fire ODOT Director Matt Garrett, who has notoriously prohibited the inclusion of minority contractors and workers on state projects. In fact, the financial influence of AGC, the Associated General “white” Contractors, is the driving force behind this historical exclusion.

Blacks can only hope that if elected the next mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler will not carry this tradition into his administration. Blacks should do everything possible to hold him accountable for a different outcome. He can start by promising that none of the City’s current Office of Management and Finance high-level executives will remain in office once he’s elected. If he and any other mayoral candidates are not willing to commit to this action, they should be rejected by the entire black community on Election Day.

Black Portland stands up for JUSTICE OR ELSE

Portland was on the Mall.


There is something absolutely thrilling about a mass group of black people coming together to:

  1. acknowledge our unique presence in the universe,
  2. share in the distinct condition we find ourselves in today as descendants of slaves in America, and…
  3. promote Black unity to craft a national plan demanding JUSTICE or ELSE.

march 1Most of us who attended the original Million Man March sought to recapture the excitement and promise of a better America that was stirred in us 20 years ago.

One could feel the resistance from both whites and blacks about the notion that independent thinking black people would have the audacity as group to challenge the oppressive status quo.

march 2

We keep thinking there will be a revolution in the minds of black people that says “we can do this.” Throw off the chains of our slave masters, claim the destiny of true freedom and breathe the fresh air of justice and equality.march 3

We can be especially proud of the Portland contingency who made special sacrifice to attend. Let’s see if we can live up to the challenge of helping to move the needle and lifting the aspirations of black people in Portland.

posey at the march

I, for one, am committed to doing so.  This is not my fight…its our’s.

Together, we stand.

Black Boys to Men: A Big Deal But We Need Much More

It is hard to understand why black people have not put more effort into cultivating the specific relationship between black men and boys. Among the many possible reasons given is the overall general knock on black men: a lack of sensitivity.

Well that certainly was not in evidence a few Saturdays ago when Donald Dixson held his annual Boyz to Men Breakfast at Jefferson High School. There is something inherently powerful when a significant mass of black men come together for the best of purposes. I often reminisce about the Million Man March, which will mark its 20th anniversary in October of this year. The symbolism of both events, equally peaceful, thoughtful, inspiring and challenging, is evidence of the powerful impact black men can have on each other.

And while sensitivity, caring and understanding was clearly demonstrated at the Saturday breakfast, one could not help sense the raw awareness that these types of meetings may eventually determine the very survival of black men. The statistics on us are utterly depressing in just about every area, unemployment, low education levels, poor health, little business ownership, substance abuse, and incarceration. These relationship building meetings can certainly be part of the solution.

And that Saturday meeting presented a ray of hope and inspiration for me and many others in the room. Given that the meeting was a structured event with an opening, orientation, actual breakfast, exercises designed to solicit information, a getting acquainted session, substantive dialogue and a closing, the allotted three hours went by fast. It was a clear acknowledgement that as a group, black men are in trouble and must work extra hard and do all we can now to save ourselves.

The question is, will we mount a full out campaign to make these efforts, or will we revert to the same old model of asking other to do for us what we will not do for ourselves. Convening regular meetings to have discussions is important and a good first step. But how do we strengthen these relationships in our everyday activities at work and play. It will not take much to implement the play elements if we bring the resources together. But the work piece will require mammoth effort, organizing and commitment. Here are a few not so radical ideas to consider: targeted career interventions; individual youth career advocates; regional coordinated career pipelines; long term tracking and evaluation schemes; and finally, maximizing and expanding residential training centers like Job Corps.

The Donald Dixon event’s driven approach is very much needed, but it needs to be a part of a long range continuum. It has to be connected to measurable outcomes that make a substantial difference, and we must start now.

Does Diversity “Equal” Equity?

not equalCan black people really believe there are serious efforts to erase decades of racial discrimination impacts through a current push for diversity? Are Blacks in Portland being asked to sublimate their race issues in favor of a white-controlled and -perpetuated diversity agenda?

This might also explain why black people are so passive in demanding their rightful share of what they’ve worked for and deserve as black American citizens. Just who is comforted by this diversity label? For whatever reason black people are engaged in seeking fairness for other groups rather unwaveringly seeking results in their own interest

For example, recently a few black people, citing a lack of diversity, challenged a newly-developed seven-member minority business commission which included four black members. Can it be only in Portland where Blacks in a public meeting have the audacity to complain about the over-representation of other Blacks for the sake of racial diversity? But as we have seen in Baltimore, racial composition does not necessarily translate into equal treatment. To say it another way, having black faces associated with an issue does not necessarily guarantee satisfactory results for Blacks.

On the other hand, and similar also to Baltimore, we have seen what happens when black people are treated like caged rats: there’s explosive responses, outrage and expressions of violent contempt for their horrendous conditions. In the intervening periods, how does one explain black people’s incredible ability to tolerate endless indignities and humiliations until pushed to the brink?  Maybe we can blame it on what Portland’s own Dr. Joy DeGruy describes as “post traumatic slave syndrome”. Or maybe it is just a perverted version of the Stockholm syndrome. But can we correctly conclude that white people’s indifference or complacency is because of black peoples’ passivity?

I’m no sociologist but I do know if a people are treated like animals, eventually they begin to behave like them. Anyone who has spent time in the ‘real’ Baltimore knows that many blacks, like in many other urban cities, are truly living like animals. No one condones violence, but we understand why it exists.

This is why it’s important to keep asking this all-important question. Can Portland buck the national trend and treat its black citizens as equals in all respects?

Image credit:  BOONDOCKS © 2005 Adelaide Productions, Inc.

Did you know you can get these posts in your inbox?