Dr. Claud Anderson had it RIGHT
We are at a crossroads, let’s not blow it this time.
The untimely issues raised around ODOT’s I-5 Rose Quarter construction project have caused me to consider deeper issues about Black folks in Portland. My question to our community: Who has historically benefitted from the many developments that we have seen, especially in N-NE Portland? I’m talking about the very developments that have further marginalized and scattered us as a people.
Just look around our community at the many construction projects that have helped gentrify our neighborhood and tell me who has benefited? So what makes you think that things will be different this time around when most of the players are white men who have done very little to truly aid and empower our community. Many of these people have profited greatly on the backs of the community, increasing their wealth through mixed-use, low-income housing developments that we were told would empower us and keep our people in the neighborhood.
Look around inner N/NE Portland and ask yourself one simple question: Did it work? And seriously, are we so naïve to think things will be different this time? In the ’80s, we had “Reaganomics” which showed that trickle-down economic theory did not work for black people. The rich became richer, and as a group, Black people are in worse shape now economically than we have ever been. But don’t get me wrong, I am pro-development if Black people control it at every level. This means it needs to be substantial enough that our community can capitalize, finance, build, own, and benefit from the generational wealth that it creates.
Unfortunately, we have always had many Judases in our community who are more than willing to sell us out for 30 pieces of something. Yes, the Black slave catchers still exist. And yes, there were actual house slaves that worked hand in hand with the master to further white superiority and supremacy. As a result, our people perished due to their lack of knowledge. Finally, it is time for people to wake up and look beyond the propaganda that is constantly being fed to them and realize that it is a psychological operation to further weaken us and keep us divided.
We need to stop depending on this governmental system, along with white benevolence, that by design is set up to keep us always wanting and thus in an inferior position. Your voices need to be heard now. Consider: economics through living-wage jobs and industry entrepreneurship has always been needed to establish and build a healthy and vibrant community. Black people must have a consistent means to bring dollars into their community. Once these dollars are in the community, we can then start the true re-building process by our own hands and create wealth by keeping those dollars circulating amongst ourselves. Hence the beauty and nail salons, barbershops, restaurants, art and entertainment venues, and other service-oriented businesses make up a healthy vibrant community, all flowing from a strong economic base.
Although it is not the only form for economic growth, the construction industry is critical to a community due to reduced barriers to entry without needing to incur much debt. Generally, all one needs to be successful is to show up consistently, have a positive attitude, and a good work ethic to establish a living-wage career. In addition, there are many professional positions that folks can grow into without a formal education, including becoming a business owner.
This country was built on the free labor of slaves who possessed many trade skills in 1865. I submit that the systemic policies put in place over the last 120 years transferred those skills from the Black population to the majority population along with much of the economics and wealth that has been created since emancipation.
Black people in Portland have not always understood that a bird in the hand is worth more than a bunch in the bush. And I pray that they don’t follow Dorthey down a yellow brick road and are smart enough to look behind the curtain and see who is pulling the strings. In other words, Black folks have a chance to go with an authentic black man and an organization with proven results focused on self-economic empowerment that is openly shared and designed to improve every aspect of Black life in Portland. I hope and pray we don’t blow it by following false prophets instead.
The Portland Branch of the NAACP is having a discussion Sunday 12:00 to 1 PM let your voices be heard.
Meeting link: Zoom link
Meeting ID: 889 6818 1081