Advocating for BIPOC: Black History is Our History
As February marks Black History Month in the United States, it is imperative to reflect on the past of our city, county, and state in the roles played in systematic racial oppression and exclusion.
“Exclusion” is the buzzword that was incorporated into state policy to prevent black people from living in Oregon. The first Black Exclusion Law of 1844 mandated that Blacks attempting to settle in Oregon would be publicly whipped with thirty-nine lashes that would be repeated every six months until they departed.
Even after the Oregon Constitution was ratified and abolished slavery in the state, it came with a policy stipulation that would ban black people from legal residence in the state. They weren’t allowed to own real estate, engender contracts, vote, or use the legal system. These laws elucidated that Oregon was a hostile destination for Blacks contemplating a move west and served as an effective deterrent.
The 20th century ushered in less conspicuous but equally damaging institutional policies in the housing, banking, and law enforcement sectors. While even a synopsis of the cruelty displayed towards black people during this era would be perfunctory, it is important to note the gentrification of traditionally black neighborhoods in Portland continued as late as the 1990’s during the resurgence of urban living. This pushed many black people to low-income housing in suburb areas like Beaverton.
The history of exclusion and racial discrimination in Oregon cannot be forgotten, whitewashed, or trivialized as irrelevant to the current times. As the nation reckons with its racial past, Beaverton can play an important role in telling the stories of marginalized communities, integrating their culture into the rich tapestry of our community, and creating incentivized opportunities for black-owned businesses to move into our city.
As your Executive Director of Beaverton Downtown Association, I will do my best to advocate for representation of BIPOC communities in our district.
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” —Nelson Mandela
~ Kamil Khan
Beaverton Downtown Association
The Beaverton Downtown Association is currently recruiting a Design Committee Chair and a Youth Chair.
Want to get involved? Check out www.downtownbeaverton.org.