Recently I sent out a request to speak to POC’s and white people alike from various walks of life in order to get their take on what’s happening in the world at this point and what they might think about the current issues happening downtown Portland, Oregon. The screening process was necessary unfortunately, but after finding several individuals it was possible to sit them down, practicing social distancing and the use of masks of course, to get their take on just what’s happening in Portland.
Mike Connell is a young, gay black man attending PSU, Janine Alsone is a transgender Latina woman currently working as a Multnomah County clerk, Adelaide McComb is an elderly Puerto Rican-American that immigrated to the USA when she was 6 years of age with her family, and has owned and operated a small family store for years following her parents’ retirement and eventual passing. Jonas Dillin is a middle-aged white male that works at a local production company making machine parts, and Elizabeth Onsatt is a proud feminist (not third wave) that is taking classes at PCC while supporting herself and two children while working online as a data entry clerk. The interview was conducted in Waterfront Park.
Interviewer: Thank you all for coming today. I think we’ll just get into it and ask: Do you think there’s any hope for Portland?
Mike (shrugs): I don’t know really. BLM is making a mess of things and so are Antifa. People just want to say what they have to say, but the groups are making things worse.
Adelaide: Portland will survive I think. BLM and Antifa are ridiculous, many people realize this, but some have to be reminded is all. There are plenty of people out there that still want to respect their home and keep it in one piece. This will pass, just like everything else.
Jonas: A lot of people are scared right now, but I think that fear is the wrong thing to show. It’s hard not to, I get it, but Portland isn’t lost. I think Adelaide is right, this will pass, but it’s going to take a while.
Interviewer: What do you think needs to happen for Portland to be seen as safe again?
Elizabeth (scoffs): People need to remember that they’re free to begin with. As a feminist I believe in equality for everyone. The city and the system aren’t perfect, but no one’s putting a boot to a person’s neck unless they do something stupid. I think people forgot that cops don’t generally kill a person or harm them at all unless they have a damned good reason. It’s horrible that some cops do take it too far like with George Floyd, but that message is pretty well lost at this time.
Janine: Yeah it has. Plus, Portlanders and everyone else around the nation took up a cause that wasn’t theirs in the first place. I’ve gotten hell for being transgender before, but I’ve never lost a job or a life opportunity because of it. People can look at me any way they want, that’s not my responsibility. If Portland is going to go back to what it’s been people need to remember that not everything is their damned business. It seems to be working for the lot of us, when the media and society is telling us that people like us shouldn’t be able to coexist in the same space. Right?
Everyone nodded at this point and agreed heartily, and as the interview continued I couldn’t help but smile as each person gave an honest answer and described in detail their experience within Portland’s borders and how the stereotypes pushed by the media were nonsense. In the end the agreement was that Portland was not lost, it was simply waiting for the knots tied by the media and public opinion to be untied.
The general feeling of the group was “We’ll get there, together.”