Staying Silent in Times of Injustice is Privilege…
OSTA is dedicated to justice and freedom. The death of George Floyd was a wake up call to America that there is much to do to end systemic racism and the disparity in the treatment of different races in policing, the justice system, access to government-backed loan programs and housing, and much more. The events of the last few weeks have forced many of us into uncomfortable conversations about generations of prejudice against Black people and other people of color in this country. Oregon has a deep history of racism that cannot be ignored.
Oregon was founded as a White Utopia. In 1844, before Oregon was a state, it banned slavery but passed laws excluding Blacks from living in the Oregon Territory for more than three years. The message was clear, you can help us earn a statehood, but then you have to leave. If a Black person violated this law, they received 39 lashes every six months until they left Oregon.
In 1849, Oregon another law was passed which prevented any more Blacks from entering into or living in The Territory.
When Oregon became a state in 1859, the first Oregon Constitution prohibited Blacks from owning property or entering into contracts.
Over 150 years later, it is clear that these early exclusion laws led to some clear results of the population of Oregon today.
According to the 2019 US Census Bureau data, Oregon’s population breaks down as follows:
- 86.7% is White (the US Census category of “White alone, not Hispanic or Latino” is 75%)
- 13.4 is Latino/Hispanic
- 4.9% is Asian
- 2.2% is Black
- 1.8% is Native American
Although most of these laws were repealed 100 years ago, the racist language such as “negroes” and “mulattos” wasn’t removed by vote from our Oregon Constitution until 2002, and even then, it is staggering to make peace with the fact that 30% of voters in 2002 voted to keep that racist language as part of our Constitution!!
The Civil Rights Act of 1968 included legislation known as the Fair Housing Act, signed one week after Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, which made it unlawful for a landlord to discriminate against or prefer a potential tenant based on their race, color, religion, gender, or national origin, when advertising or negotiating the sale or rental of housing. In 1988, such protections were extended to other “protected classes” including disabilities and familial status (pregnant women or the presence of children under 18).
In addition to the Federal Fair Housing protections, Oregon protects additional classes from discrimination based on marital status, source of income, sexual orientation including gender identity, and domestic violence victims.
Despite these efforts, studies have shown that housing discrimination still exists.
When we think about what we fight for, as members of OSTA, we fight for knowledge, empowerment, and justice. We fight to enhance the lives of park and marina residents.
OSTA is committed to diversity, amplifying voices, and making our communities better places to call home. As we do this together, let us all take this opportunity to get to know our neighbors from different cultures and backgrounds, to really listen to their stories and their issues, make sure that we are inviting everyone to the table, so that when we advocate, we work to ensure that everyone in our communities can live better lives.