We think of Oregon as home to liberals...but Oregon has a 200 year history of being the most racist of northern states. And, that history has ramifications in the present.
"From its very beginning, Oregon was an inhospitable place for black people. In 1844, the provisional government of the territory passed a law banning slavery, and at the same time required any African American in Oregon leave the territory. Any black person remaining would be flogged publicly every six months until he left. Five years later, another law was passed that forbade free African Americans from entering into Oregon, according to the Communities of Color report. It was not just a no slave state...Oregon was a no black state.
In 1857, Oregon adopted a state constitution that banned black people from coming to the state, residing in the state, or holding property in the state. During this time, any white male settler could receive 650 acres of land and another 650 if he was married. This, of course, was land taken from native people who had been living here for centuries.
With the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, Oregon’s laws preventing black people from living in the state and owning property were superseded by national law. But Oregon itself didn’t ratify the 14th Amendment—the Equal Protection Clause—until 1973. (Or, more exactly, the state ratified the amendment in 1866, rescinded its ratification in 1868, and then finally ratified it for good in 1973.) It didn’t ratify the 15th Amendment, which gave black people the right to vote, until 1959, making it one of only six states that refused to ratify that amendment when it passed.
This history resulted in a very white state. Technically, after 1868, black people could come to Oregon. But the black-exclusion laws had sent a very clear message nationwide, says Darrell Millner, a professor of black studies at Portland State University. “What those exclusion laws did was broadcast very broadly and loudly was that Oregon wasn’t a place where blacks would be welcome or comfortable,” he told me. By 1890, there were slightly more than 1,000 black people in the whole state of Oregon. By 1920, there were about 2,000.
Talking constructively about race can be hard, especially in a place like Portland where residents have so little exposure to people who look differently than they do."
Some light is so intense that it can only be experienced as darkness