race

Resolutions Northwest

The recent murders of two men defending people from racial harassment in Portland made us think instantly of Rabbi Debra Kolodny at Resolutions Northwest

She teaches workshops on defusing such situations, and lives in the Portland area. 

We talked to Kolodny not long ago, before she taught one of her workshops in the Rogue Valley. 

She returns with her thoughts on the double murder (and wounding of a third man),

NPR

"American Exceptionalism" is a phrase that floats through the body politic from time to time, usually in election years. 

Yet despite many Americans thinking our country is the envy of the world, we fight a lot with each other. 

Mugambi Jouet brings up many examples in his book Exceptional America: What Divides Americans from the World and from Each Other

Robert Goodwin hosts the author in the return of our "The Keenest Observers" segment. 

Con-struct, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18807661

If someone displays racist behavior in front of you, do you know what to do?  The question gets asked more frequently these days, given the rise in bias incidents since the last election. 

Workshops coming to Medford and Ashland next week (May 8 and 9, respectively; arranged by Resolve Center in Medford) will give attendees tools to interrupt hate in public spaces. 

Rabbi Debra Kolodny of Resolutions Northwest leads the workshops and joins us with details. 

Jan Wright

John Beeson benefitted from the removal of Native Americans from the Rogue Valley, like many white settlers in the mid-19th century. 

What he did next makes him a bit different: Beeson took up a second career as an advocate for Native Americans, leaving his Talent farm and family behind to push for better treatment for indigenous people. 

Historian Jan Wright is working on a book about Beeson and trying to crowdfund it

TKO: Racial Histories Of Oregon

Jan 30, 2017
An Oregon Canyon / Donnell Alexander

The Keenest Observers is an occasional segment dealing with difference and inclusion in a place where the vast majority of people are white.

This month we look at how race is inscribed on Oregon geography.  Donnell Alexander is a filmmaker and writer, whose recent work documents place names and early African-American homesteaders. Randy Blazak is Chair of the Portland-based Coalition Against Hate Crimes (CAHC). He speaks to the history of the KKK in Oregon, and the perennial re-emergence of white supremacist messaging through fliers, websites and radio programs.

Documenting The School-To-Prison Pipeline

Nov 1, 2016
elementarygenocide.com

From the slave trade to legal segregation, many public policies throughout American history have harmed Black communities.

These days African-Americans make up more than a third of the prisoner population in the U.S., despite their being just 12 percent of the general population.

Filmmaker and activist Raheim Shabazz says this skew begins in public schools, which have become one end of the school-to-prison pipeline. His films, "Elementary Genocide," parts one and two, screen at Southern Oregon University this week. 

Remembering The Days Of Lynching In America

Oct 13, 2016
Public Domain/Wikimedia

The recent flaring of concern over racism in our country reminds us that bad days are not that far behind us. 

Lynchings of black men took place well into the middle of the 20th century. 

Karlos K. Hill is an expert on the history of lynching and the author of Beyond the Rope: The Impact of Lynching on Black Culture and Memory.  

The Keenest Observers: LGBTQ Concerns Explored

Sep 19, 2016

The Keenest Observers are often the people who stand outside a group or situation.  So that's the name we've given to our occasional explorations of conditions and experiences of minority communities within our region. 

Robert Goodwin returns to host The Keenest Observers with members of the LGBTQ community; there's never a shortage of topics, from "bathroom bills" to the coming SO PRIDE festival (October 1-9). 

Guests include Southern Oregon University Queer Resource Center coordinator Thomas Arce and Evan Mouldeoux of Lotus Rising.   

The Hidden "Human Computers" Of NASA

Sep 9, 2016
NASA/Public Domain

The images of the control rooms in the early days of American space flight--in real life and in the movies--are images of lots of white men. 

But it took more than the people in those images to put people on the moon for the first time.  Margot Lee Shetterly's book Hidden Figures introduces us to people very much behind the scenes yet very important to success in the space race: African-American women who functioned as something like human computers. 

The book is also a movie in the making, due in January.

Shetterly herself is the daughter of one of NASA's first black engineers, who worked for a still-segregated agency in the civil rights era. 

The Keenest Observers: Immigration

Aug 29, 2016
JPR News

A presidential candidate or two may have whipped up a bit of a frenzy on immigration this year, but it's always a hot topic in America.

And it is the focus of the latest installment of our perusal of issues facing non-white people in a region where whites are the overwhelming majority. 

We're calling these sessions "The Keenest Observers," because often the keenest observer is the outsider. 

Robert Goodwin of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is back to host this hour, with JPR News staffer Jessica De Nova--about to become a U.S. citizen--among the guests.  Also on the panel: Carlo Alban and Ricardo Lujan Flores. 

U Of Oregon Considers De-Naming Buildings

Aug 22, 2016
Gary Halvorsen/Oregon State Archives

College campuses are filled with buildings named for pillars of the community in times past.  And as times change, so do attitudes about the people once considered pillars. 

Matthew Deady and Frederick Dunn were important people in the history of the University of Oregon; both have buildings named for them.  Both also held views of non-white people not considered appropriate in our time. 

UO President Michael Schill wants input on removing one or both names from the buildings. 

Racism Happens Here

Aug 12, 2016
Geoffrey Riley/JPR

Ugly incidents in any small town can produce an instant reaction: "that can't happen here." 

  But it did: an African-American employee of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival was the target of ugly racial talk in a brief encounter this summer. 

Christiana Clark posted a video shortly after the event; she joins us for a discussion of what she experienced then and on other occasions.  It's part of our continuing effort to explore racial attitudes, from the perspective of people who are often victims of racism. 

Living In Color In Southern Oregon

Aug 4, 2016
JPR

It's hard for most residents of the region to imagine what it's like to live as a person of color.  Because there are so very few. 

And the overwhelming whiteness of the population has produced some regrettable events and periods in the region's history, like the rise of the Ku Klux KIan in the 1920s. 

People of color still experience discrimination today.  We assembled an all non-white panel and host to explore the issues. 

Robert Goodwin of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival hosts the discussion. 

Atrocity And Apology In South Africa

Jul 15, 2016
Penguin Random House

Apartheid ended in South Africa, but it did not end quietly.  Violence marked the drawing down of the strict separation of the races that had existed for decades. 

And the violence included the murder of a white American woman by a mob of young black men.  The parents of Amy Biehl forgave her killers.  But when writer Justine van der Leun investigated the case, the details only got more convoluted... leading to a wholesale reconsideration of crime and punishment, transgression and reconciliation. 

Her book We Are Not Such Things gets into the points of the murder and its much larger significance. 

Art And Activism With Aja Monet

Jul 13, 2016
Southern Oregon University

  Aja Monet is probably pleased to know that she is difficult to categorize. 

She is a poet, songwriter, singer, activist, and much more.  And she arrives in Southern Oregon for the Youth Artists Institute in Ashland, at a time when issues she holds dear are very much in the news. 

Juvenile justice, police violence, and race relations continue to trouble the country, and they are of concern to her. 

A History Of The White Underclass

Jun 27, 2016
Viking Press

In theory, America is the land of opportunity: anyone can do anything, and we are not a country of strong class lines.  That's the theory. 

The recent debates about inequality remind us that people who don't make much money have a hard time getting to a position to make more. 

Historian and author Nancy Isenberg says it's not a new situation.  She is the author of the newly released White Trash

The book tracks the accomplishments and abuses of (and on) poor white people since colonial days. 

Celebrating "Juneteenth" At OSF

Jun 23, 2016
Julie Cortez/OSF

Abraham Lincoln made his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but the Civil War and slavery dragged on for two more years.  It was not until June 19, 1865, that former slaves in Texas finally got word of their freedom. 

The date is now remembered as "Juneteenth."  The Oregon Shakepeare Festival observes Juneteenth every year, and this year the celebration is Monday, June 27th (an off-day for festival performers). 

Taking The Klan To Court

Jun 7, 2016
HarperCollins

Civil rights legislation passed in the mid-60s, but attitudes took longer to change. 

And the institutions of racism linger to this day.  Those include the continued presence of the Ku Klux Klan, which still exists, albeit far weaker than in its heyday. 

One contributing factor: a successful lawsuit against the United Klans of America by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Morris Dees.  Laurence Leamer's book The Lynching tells the story of the horrific crime that led to the lawsuit, and the suit's lingering impact. 

KLCC

Donnell Alexander only gets 90 minutes to speak at the Eugene Library Thursday Night (June 2). 

And that's a shame, because he has a lot to say about a lot of things.  Like what it's like to be an African-American in Portland, which he described as feeling like "a sitting black duck." 

Like his visit with the extremists who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January, or his documentary on the only (known) major league pitcher to throw a no-hitter while tripping on LSD (Dock Ellis). 

Alexander is journalist, writer, film producer, radio producer... that's just the short list. 

Facing Oregon's Racial History

Apr 7, 2016
Wikimedia

Decisions made back when Oregon became a state had a long-lasting impact. 

Like the relative paucity of African-Americans in the state.  "Exclusion laws" forbidding black people from living in all or part of the state existed from statehood's dawn into the 20th century. 

Oregon Humanities' "Conversation Project" offers an traveling presentation called "Why Aren't There More Black People In Oregon?" 

It is in Cave Junction Thursday (April 7) and Cottage Grove on Friday (April 8).  Scholar/poet/writer Walidah Imarisha leads the discussion. 

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