Coalition of Communities of Color Legislative Action Day, February 8
Join advocates for racial justice from around the state at the Coalition of Communities of Color Legislative Action Day on Thursday, February 8, in Salem, Oregon. Advocates will be coming together to meet with legislators to talk about a racial equity agenda for the 2018 legislative session.
During the Legislative Action Day, you will:
- Hear from legislators leading on advocacy for communities of color
- Meet with legislators to share your story and talk about issues that are important to you
- Learn more about bills with an impact on communities of color
If you're new to legislative advocacy, this is a great way to get experience meeting with legislators. We will provide you with all the training and information you need. For experienced advocates, this is an opportunity to come together and show that policymakers must prioritize racial equity during this legislative session. The event is free and lunch will be provided.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Jenny Lee, Advocacy Director
Coalition of Communities of Color
2017 Racial Equity Legislative Report details progress and work to be done at Oregon Legislature
Salem (January 12, 2018) – Days before celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and just a few weeks before the beginning of Oregon’s 2018 legislative session, the 2017 Racial Equity Legislative Report has been released to examine the Legislature’s commitment to policies that improve the lives of Oregonians of color.
This is the fourth edition of the Racial Equity Legislative Report, which has been produced by a working group consisting of the Coalition of Communities of Color, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), Basic Rights Oregon, Causa, Partnership for Safety and Justice, Unite Oregon, and the Urban League of Portland.
Legislation was selected for inclusion in this report if it was explicit about addressing racial equity; reduced or removed systemic or institutional barriers that lead to inequitable outcomes; and protected against racial discrimination and violence. Communities of color, immigrants, and refugees identified and proactively worked on legislation they marked as priorities.
In 2017, the Legislature passed four pieces of groundbreaking racial justice legislation that was supported by advocates for communities of color:
End Profiling: Oregon banned profiling by law enforcement and implemented systemic accountability measures. This bill also made small-scale possession of drugs a misdemeanor with access to treatment, instead of a felony.
Ethnic Studies: This bill directs the Oregon Department of Education to convene an advisory group to develop statewide ethnic studies standards for adoption into existing statewide social studies standards.
Cultural Competency: This bill requires public institutions of higher education to provide ongoing cultural competency development opportunities and create standards for cultural competency.
Reproductive Health Equity: This bill ensures that all Oregonians, regardless of income, citizenship status, or gender identity, can access the full range of preventative reproductive health services.
Tenant protections: The Legislature missed a major opportunity to protect Oregonians who rent their homes by failing to end no-cause evictions and allowing local governments to regulate rents.
The report also notes the increased representation of communities of color as Oregon’s legislative body diversifies. The number of legislators of color has more than doubled since the 2015 biennium. While this falls far short of representing Oregon’s increasingly diverse population, it represents meaningful progress toward a government that represents its people. In addition, the report presents stories of people of color engaged as advocates or legislators and their experiences at the Capitol.
The 2017 Racial Equity Legislative Report is a call to action for policymakers to work with communities of color to create a more equitable Oregon and end systemic racism by championing solutions rooted in communities where they will be implemented. In 2017, Oregon saw meaningful progress toward this goal, with much work still to be done.
The report can be downloaded at: http://www.coalitioncommunitiescolor.org/2017-facingrace.
For media inquiries, please contact Jenny Lee, Advocacy Director at the Coalition of Communities of Color, at (503) 317-1058 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Holidays and welcome to the December edition of the Equity Lens! In this edition we reflect on the work of our members, partners, and community leaders.
Here's a quick overview of this edition of the Equity Lens:
End of the Year Wrap Up & Report
CCC New MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Muslim Educational Trust
CCC Advocacy Update
Portland Indian Leaders Roundtable
PILR'S 4yr Strategy with Multnomah County
Portland United Against Hate
Senate Bill 13: Tribal Education Becomes Law
Train Song by Santos Herrera
END OF THE YEAR Wrap up & REPORT
As the year comes to an end, many of us are reflecting on a year filled with unprecedented challenges. With each challenge our coalition members responded with resilience, grace and hope. Despite a toxic national discourse, our 19 member organizations and the communities we serve focused on how to respond to community needs and how to shift the narrative by placing children, families and community in the center. Our communities looked toward a future more reflective of our shared values and collective belief in the strength and assets of communities of color. Amidst a shadow of fear, the CCC and our members worked collectively with community to stand up, raise our voices and push back.
The Coalition of Communities of Color and our members were extremely productive in 2017. We worked with community to convene focus groups, discussion groups, information sessions and work groups to inform and drive community based research and advocacy. We developed and trained leaders who in turn used their skills, passion and advocacy to lobby decision makers and advance important policy changes that will positively impact communities of color. We continued to develop, support and strengthen relationships with established and new partners. And we made time to celebrate each other, communicate our successes and plan for 2018.
Below is a sampling of some of our 2017 accomplishments:
Research Justice By the Numbers:
- 33 research partners participating in our research justice vision
- 155 community participants helping lead research
- 15 community conversations to conduct community-based participatory research
- 2 published research reports
- 7 cities in the Washington Country research project
- 2 counties in the Portland Metro area
- $50,000 in funding for research capacity building
Leadership Development by the Numbers:
- 80 Bridges Alumni attended the Bridges convening in February 2017
- 8 Bridges alumni are in the Metro Pilot
- 40 Bridges alumni and community members participated in Metro Discussion Groups
- 40+ people attended the Metro leadership meet and greet (15 of which were Bridges alumni)
Community and Economic Development Program By the Numbers
- 1 Three day “Justice & Ecology” retreat with Movement Generation
- 4 Environmental and Climate Justice workshops
- 10 Active CCC members actively involved in CED program activities
- 12 REDEFINE Monthly Meetings (and many others!)
- $280,000 in collective fundraising for member capacity building and work on Environmental and Climate Justice
- Innumerable laughs and smiles
Advocacy Program By the Numbers
- 150 attendees at Legislative Action Day
- 50 legislators visited during Legislative Action Day
- 21 policies endorsed
- 7 bills passed
- 1 report published, “Building Community: A Disparate Impacts Analysis and Cross-Cultural Agenda to Prevent Displacement and Gentrification”
- 4 steering committee memberships and countless coalitions
If you are as inspired as we are, we encourage you to consider making an investment in the success of the CCC and our members though a donation. Your support will help the CCC and our members continue to provide vital services, programming and advocacy in support of racial justice in Oregon.
This year, several of our member organizations are in Willamette Week’s Give Guide (www.giveguide.org): Hacienda CDC, IRCO, KairosPDX Learning Academy, Latino Network, NAYA Family Center, SEI, Urban League and Voz. You can support them by donating through the link.
You can also support our members directly. A full listing can be found here: www.coalitioncommunitiescolor.org/ccc-members
To donate directly to CCC:
CCC NEW Member Spotlight: Muslim Educational Trust
The Coalition of Communities of Color is excited to welcome its newest member, the Muslim Educational Trust!
Tell us about your organization and its mission and services.
The Muslim Educational Trust (MET) is a cultural, social, and educational institution founded in 1993 with a mission to enrich the public’s understanding of Islam and dispel common myths and stereotypes, while serving the Muslim community’s educational, social, and spiritual needs in order to develop generations of proud and committed Muslims who will lead our community to the forefront of bridge building dialogue, faith-based community service, and stewardship of Earth and humanity.
MET engages extensively with the broader community to foster the general public’s understanding of Islam and raise awareness about the importance of equity and social justice for all. Our work includes monthly public forums for community members to engage and grow closer in mutual respect, understanding, and compassion, public lectures, interfaith dialogue, outreach to local media organizations, cultural competency training, the Know Your Neighbor Campaign, the Silk Road Cultural Diplomacy program, and efforts to highlight Muslims in the public square across all professions. This work leads to consciousness of our stereotypes and reshaping our mindset to see each other as equally human.
Within the Muslim community, we work to meet the needs of Muslims and develop strong leaders within our community. We work to advance the education and leadership skills for all Oregon Muslim youth. The Oregon Muslim Youth program offers youth enrichment, engagement, leadership, and mentoring. MET also offers a unique, holistic educational experience through its two full-time, licensed, and accredited Islamic schools, the Islamic School of MET serving Pre-K–5th grades and the Oregon Islamic Academy serving 6th–12th grades, as well as through its Weekend Islamic School and two scholarship opportunities for college and high school students
Our work supports positive integration for new immigrant communities, civic engagement, leadership development, education, outreach, and partnerships with government officials to make the Muslim community’s voice heard. Promoting collaboration between Islamic organizations in the Portland metro area and Southwest Washington is another way we are strengthening our community.
MET is the co-founding member of the following interfaith organizations and coalitions: the Institute for Christian Muslim Understanding, Arab-Jewish-Muslim Dialogue, Interfaith Council of Greater Portland, the Beloved Community of Oregon Coalition, and Between Women Interfaith Group.
What are your top priorities and hopes for 2018?
In 2018, we will be working to expand programs to reduce fear and build bridges of compassion and understanding of Islam and Muslims in light of current political landscape. To this end, we will continue our civic engagement, education, and outreach work, as well as positive integration for new immigrant communities. The sustainability of our program is another major priority, as we work to pay a $4 million construction loan to complete the center and expand an endowment to sustain the organization for the long-term.
What do you look forward to about being a member of and working with the Coalition of Communities of Color and its members?
MET spends a significant amount of time working with and supporting our local immigrant and refugee community, most of whom are people of color. We believe that our perspective can be an added value to the Coalition, and we hope to, in turn, learn from other local organizations about their communities and how we can better support each other.
2018 Legislative Preview
The goal of CCC’s Advocacy programs is to advance policies throughout Oregon that have the best potential to improve outcomes for communities of color. To achieve our goal, we are committed to building the capacity of our members and communities of color to successfully advance policy agendas, reform policy practices to ensure authentic community engagement of the communities most directly impacted by policy change and to shift political discourse to centralize the voices of communities of color in policy.
During the 2017 Legislative session, the Coalition, our members and coalition partners had significant advances in reaching our advocacy goals and we look forward to continuing to build a movement for positive change in the upcoming session.
Coalition members have come forward with items for endorsement in 2018, and we are now in the midst of our endorsement process for our 2018 legislative agenda. While we have not yet finalized our support, we would like to share some of the issues we may endorse for a legislative sneak preview:
- Early Childhood Education Equity Fund, led by the Latino Network, supporting culturally specific early learning services to close the opportunity gap for children of color in communities throughout our state.
- Small donor elections, creating an alternative to Oregon’s existing campaign finance system to give small donors a more powerful voice in elections, potentially helping to elect more candidates of color and building the power of communities of color.
- Clean Energy Jobs, accounting for the cost of pollution and reinvesting substantial proceeds into most impacted communities. We are advocating hard to center environmental justice and equity in this important bill, which has historic potential to address the impact of climate change on communities of color in Oregon.
The legislative session begins February 5 and must adjourn by March 9. Bills move on an extremely tight timeline, so we anticipate a month of busy advocacy in Salem to move a racial equity agenda. We’ll be releasing the Racial Equity Report Card, an important advocacy tool, before session begins.
We will also be holding another CCC Legislative Action Day on February 8. Last year, we had over 150 attendees come to Salem and meet with legislators on our legislative priorities, helping secure the passage of many bills to advance racial equity in Oregon. If you want to participate, contact Jenny Lee at email@example.com for more information.
Advocacy at the ballot
Oregonians aren’t used to voting in January, but next month a critical special election for healthcare will be held. Voting yes on Measure 101 will protect healthcare for Oregonians who could not otherwise afford it. CCC members are still determining their endorsement, with many of our members deeply concerned about the impact that this measure would have on healthcare for communities of color, so we are spreading the word now. Learn more about the campaign at yesforhealthcare.org.
We did see a success on the ballot this November—the Portland Community College bond, which passed by a large margin. As we move forward into the new year, we will continue to advocate for ballot measure campaigns, local government measures, and budget advocacy impacting communities of color.
November was National Native American Heritage Month. The Coalition of Communities of Color is taking this opportunity in Equity Lens to highlight some notable achievements among Oregon's the Native American community.
PORTLAND INDIAN LEADERS ROUNDTABLE
In 2007, Portland Indian Leaders Roundtable (PILR) published “Making the Invisible Visible,” to educate key audiences and the public about Portland’s growing Native American community, including consistent population undercounts and inequities in funding and services. Ten years later, working with tribes and almost 30 Native American organizations in the region, PILR has released “Leading with Tradition: Native American Community in the Portland Metropolitan Area.”
The Portland Metro Area sits on the traditional sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla and may other tribes. Today our community represents over 380 tribes from across the country and 70,000 of Portlanders (a 16% increase in ten years). While our peoples have faced elimination, assimilation, and termination, we are now numerous, our stories are powerful and we are thriving.
Unfortunately, our community still faces wide disparities like the highest rates of poverty, homelessness and unemployment of any racial group; disproportionate rates of addiction, diabetes and depression. Too many of our Native children are in the foster care system (24%) and do not graduate from high school on time (63%). Our communities are still undercounted and misunderstood leading to inequities in services and outcomes.
However, Portland Metro’s Native American community continues to grow, thrive, innovate, contribute, and celebrate our heritage. We are working with our local jurisdictions, creating programming and tackling these disparities head on. We are building a collective vision for our children’s future and building stronger connections among the community. “We have important and diverse indigenous values and worldviews that contribute to the livability and uniqueness of Portland, and we see ourselves as part of its future.” We are not invisible, the report reiterates; we are building our collective future leading with tradition.
PILR's FOUR STRATEGY WITH MULTNOMAH COUNTY
Along with the Portland Indian Leaders Roundtable (PILR) update of “Leading with Tradition,” PILR asked Multnomah County to partner with the Native community to develop a four year plan that would address some of the community's highest priorities: “Reimagining and strengthening partnership: A four year plan between Multnomah County and Portland’s Native American community.”
We spoke with two Multnomah County staff, Anna Marie Allen, Shoshone-Bannock (Community Engagement Advisor, Chair Kafoury’s Office) and Oliviah Walker, Meskwaki (Senior Policy Analyst, Health Equity Initiative - Multnomah County Health Department) about the plan.
Anna (LEAD Alumni ‘14) and Oliviah (LEAD Alumni ‘17) supported the coordination of a series of conversations between county and community leaders. “County leadership is always looking for authentic ways to bring in community voice to shape and inform policy. Our current Board of Commissioners is diverse in their heritage and personal experiences. They are dedicated to centering community-driven policy priorities.” Chair Kafoury was eager to accept PILR’s request to partner on this plan when she sat down with them last April. Department staff and leadership have been eager to learn best practices and identify intersections with their work.
“Our hope is to come together under the values of authentic partnership to continue to elevate the needs of Native American/Alaska Native residents and ensure community-led priorities continue to receive support,” the draft reads. Multnomah County and the Native community are already partnering on programs like Future Generations Collaborative, WIC services, SUN Schools, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Native American Heritage Month, Community Health Improvement Plan, transitioning Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day, and more. The draft plan also outlines priority areas for increased partnership and improvement: culturally specific community engagement practices, maternal child health and elder services, housing strategies, early intervention and restorative practices that reduce youth incarceration and recidivism, and culturally responsive trainings for Multnomah County staff.
Very quickly, we learned local jurisdictions have separate and distinct obligations to Tribes and to Native American communities; jurisdictions must have experience and expertise to recognize these unique responsibilities. Each relationship must be grounded in the leadership of Native peoples, in honest and authentic partnership, and a recognition of historic and current injustices resulting in inequitable outcomes for Native American communities.
The plan and partnership, at first glance, seemed like a clash of two worlds. In fact, it was the integration of different worldviews and a prioritization of Native values that helped facilitate the process. The plan has been a concerted effort to center and authentically reflect voices of community while avoiding overtaxing or re-traumatizing communities and individuals that have been historically traumatized by systems. The Native American community is diverse-- mutl-tribal and mutl-racial-- and individuals have diverse experiences of privilege and oppression. Thus, community engagement must reflect this diversity. Engagement and recommendations exemplify a strengths-based approach, recognizing the contributions of the area’s Native American community, while intentionally focusing on improving outcomes for community members most in need.
Oliviah added “Community engagement is not organization-specific, but community-wide thus ensuring every division and department has a community engagement strategy (again without overburdening community)... There are a lot of reports [like those from the Coalition of Communities of Color] that talk about existing disparities, but it’s really about aligning those efforts and having one place to tell the story of partnerships that have happened between the Native Community and the County. What’s going to drive the work over the next five to ten years?” This plan is both a continuation and a start.
portland united against hate
The horrific Max attack on Memorial Day weekend, opened the eyes of Portlanders to the experiences that people of color, immigrants and refugees, religious groups and the LGBTQ face as hateful rhetoric gets amplified at the national and local levels. Portland United Against Hate is a community initiated partnership of Community Based Organizations, concerned communities and the City, working with the Office of Neighborhood Involvement to build a rapid response system that combines reporting and tracking of hateful acts and provide the support and protection our communities need.
Communities experience hate motivated violence in a variety of ways and there’s a need for a documentation process that enables those most impacted to be able to track hate incidents in a trusted manner. We firmly believe that communities are experts of their experiences who have a right to lift their lived realities as data. Therefore, the CCC in partnership with IRCO-Africa House, IRCO-Asian Family Center, Latino Network, Resolutions Northwest, Unite Oregon, Urban League of Portland and the Q Center completed seven intersectional and cross-cultural conversations with 75 participants in August through October in a project funded by the City of Portland, Office of Neighborhood Involvement.
Topics of the focus groups included: what hate is and what it looks like, experiences reporting hate crimes and incidents, and what a successful hate crime and incident reporting process would look like.
The main findings from the community conversations are:
- Hate looks like hateful speech and symbols, threats, physical attacks, stereotyping and profiling, and unequal access to resources and opportunities. Hate is systemic, and can manifest within groups and communities.
- Support is sought from family, community groups, religious leaders, and spiritual healers. However, many are unaware of what resources and supports are available, or do not have access to them.
- Hate may be prevented by recognizing what it looks like and how it manifests, education and learning about other groups and histories, and through intervention from bystanders when hate is occurring.
- Hate often goes unreported because of the feelings that attention is not given to incidents or these incidents are not taken seriously, the issue is often left unresolved, people in positions of authority may be the perpetrators, and reporting the incident may cause further harm.
Three main themes emerged to describe what a good hate crime and incident reporting process would look like:
- That the reporting process be person-centered and honor the narrative of the person who had experienced hate to aid in the healing process.
- That the reporting process not be re-traumatizing or cause more harm.
- That the reporting process is action-oriented.
For more information about this initiative and the full report, please contact Shweta Moorthy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SENATE BILL 13: Tribal Education becomes Law
By Se-ah-dom Edmo, Western States Center
The law fills a critical gap in our children’s education in Oregon, requires the teaching of American Indian/Alaska Native History & Sovereignty in all K-12 schools by 2019-2020.
Governor Kate Brown held a signing ceremony with tribal leaders from around the region for Senate Bill 13 earlier this fall, requiring school districts statewide to implement curricula developed by Tribes in Oregon covering tribal history and sovereignty.
Carried by Representative Tawna Sanchez (Shoshone-Bannock, Ute and Carrizo), and at the request of Governor Brown, the bill passed both chambers of the Oregon Legislature with unanimous support.
Western States Center was the coalition convener of the effort in support of the bill and took a movement building approach to our work by recognizing and centering the benefit for every Oregon student as the bedrock of our future body politic.
Oregon joins other states in our region like Montana, Washington, Wyoming and Idaho in building a fundamental understanding of tribal literacy and history among its K-12 students. The law is one piece of the eleven-point plan of educational objectives established by the Oregon Department of Education’s American Indian/Alaska Native Advisory Panel. This plan is the product of that process and is a road map for state efforts to improve opportunities and outcomes for Native American youth in Oregon.
ABOUT WESTERN STATES CENTER:
Western States Center builds the capacity and skills of community organizers and organizations working for racial and gender justice across the region. We envision our movement achieving a just society where we all flourish in sustainable, caring and connected communities. Learn more about our work at www.westernstatescenter.org. .
By Santos Herrera
In praise of the people who risk their lives on a train to cross the border
The steel wheel lullaby
sings them to sleep
brown bodies atop
a graffiti-covered box car,
their hearts, miles behind.
The bell of a railroad
crossing, the ding-ding-dinging.
They’ve made it?
of gallon water,
the rustle of a plastic bag
filled with the applause
of hand-made tortillas and tamales
wrapped in autumn gold.
The tap dance of rain
softens the hard Earth
while the train keeps singing
and singing and singing…
is a poet, and other contributions to Portland’s art scene include being a performer and assistant director at Teatro Milagro, a writer for Voz Alta, and a member of Profile Theatre's Community Council. Santos is also a Manager of School-Based Programs at Latino Network.
Dear Friends, Colleagues, and Partners:
Please join me in congratulating our colleague Rob Nathan who will be leaving the Coalition to work at Metro as the Solid Waste Community Engagement Specialist.
Even though we only got to work with Rob for a short time, he accomplished so much on behalf of our members and communities of color in the Metro region. Rob successfully staffed the BRIDGES convening earlier this year and has engaged and supported our BRIDGES network of leaders. Rob has also worked closely on the development of an innovate pilot project with METRO to engage BRIDGES leaders in meaningful and authentic dialogue on important civic issues in the region. Rob also was the lead on the CCC's local budget advocacy and helped secure vital funding for services for our members. Rob played a major role in planning and emceeing the CCC's 2nd Annual Summer Soiree.
Rob's leadership and passion for social and racial justice will be greatly missed. It was wonderful to work with such a delightful and amazing professional and I'm sure he will accomplish many great things for our community.
Rob's last day at CCC is today. He will begin at Metro on November 29th.
CCC will hire a new Leadership Director and the job description is now available on our website. Please forward this to your networks.
In the interim, if you have any questions or need assistance with Leadership activities at CCC, please contact me.
Interim Executive Director
Welcome to this edition of the Equity Lens! This edition provides a fresh look at the work of our members, partners, and community leaders.
Here's a quick overview of this edition of the Equity Lens:
CCC MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
CCC PARTNERSHIP WITH OREGON JUSTICE RESOURCE CENTER
CCC'S RESEARCH JUSTICE EFFORTS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH METRO
CCC MEMBER FALL GALA OVERVIEW
WELCOMING NEW CCC LEADERS TO HACIENDA CDC & PORTLAND AFRICAN AMERICAN LEADERSHIP FORUM
A Halloween Quiz!
CCC Member Spotlight: VOZ Portland
Executive Director, VOZ Portland
Voz is a worker-led organization that empowers diverse day laborers and immigrants to improve their working conditions and protect civil rights through leadership development, organizing, education and economic opportunity. We provide day laborers with leadership development opportunities as well as classes aimed at providing them with the skills they need to secure long-term employment. Voz uses Popular Education methodology in our leadership development and grassroots organizing, and we have a strong history of community engagement as a worker-led organization. Romeo Sosa has been Executive Director since 2004.
Where I came from:
The Mayan story is a story that goes back thousands of years. It is a story of struggle to defend our language, our tradition, our culture, and our religion from the Spanish who invaded us. As a Mayan growing up during 36 years of Guatemalan civil war, it was important to understand political justice-- why I was seeing bodies and houses burning. At eight, I learned rich people were taking land and the poor were fighting back to defend the land-- sacred, Mother, and life giver in my culture.
What is a day laborer?
When I came to the U.S., I discovered the irony of the American Dream: I did not find riches, but instead I worked in the fields and the first thing handed to me was a shovel. I was changed by the exploitation of workers and racism we experienced. In the past ten years, we challenged some of the community assumptions about day laborers and immigrants: that they are drunks, homeless, drug dealers, or terrorists. They are people seeking work, food, safety, and peace. I worked in the fields, cut Christmas trees, picked tomatoes and blackberries, worked as a janitor, and took care of people with disabilities. Too many jobs to count just to survive. I discovered VOZ when I worked in the St. Francis dining hall feeding day laborers.
How Voz formed:
VOZ began in 2000 and is becoming one of Portland’s strongest organizations pushing for immigrant rights. One of the main reasons VOZ exists is that we want day laborers to organize themselves, to stand up and speak up about the issues they face, and to ensure they are seen as equal. We are empowering people to change their own reality by creating solutions. We also founded the National Day Laborers Organizing Network so day laborers from across the country can share their experiences.
And we are seeing victories through our coalition work. We united with Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition and, with the help of the City of Portland, we established the first worker center in the city. There we offer skills, health and safety training and art, computer, and English classes while people wait for work. Because we need to have voices of day laborers in decision making processes, VOZ developed leadership development curriculum. Day laborers are becoming aware of their rights (and we put these on a “green card”), particularly regarding wage theft and immigration enforcement.
Over the past few years we have been integrating environmental and climate justice and disaster resilience into our work. This is particularly relevant with historical hurricanes and earthquakes battering our communities across Central America, Caribbean Islands, and North America. Day laborers are the first responders to natural disasters, yet the most exploited-- no access to safety precautions, facing wage theft, or even being deported when the job is done (so as to avoid payment). Day laborers need safety, rights, and green jobs training like we are doing with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). Our communities need green jobs-- not a decision between health, safety and work.
Our Fights are Connected
Now, more than ever, we must see the intersections between policies of the new administration, immigration and criminal justice, workers rights and climate justice. It is encouraging to see people uniting and working together around immigrant rights like I have never seen before. For example, OPAL organized a march to support immigrant rights because it is clearly connected to the dangers day laborers face when cleaning up from human induced climate change disasters. Rights for immigrants and workers is climate justice.
Oregon Justice ResOURCE Center's (ORJC) new advocacy guide focuses on disrupting mass incarceration at the local level
The United States is widely known as the world’s jailer. In recent months, the problem of racialized mass incarceration has gained increased attention, around the country and in Oregon.
A new Advocacy Guide, “Disrupting Mass Incarceration at the Local Level,” released earlier this summer by the Oregon Justice Resource Center provides a starting point. The Guide illustrates that locally-elected leaders at the city and county levels have tremendous power to drastically change systems of over-criminalization if pushed to do so by the communities they serve.
OJRC’s strategic local focus seeks to increase opportunities for engagement. Local level engagement removes some of the barriers to participation that too frequently prevent communities most impacted from having their voice heard, such as the time and travel needed to advocate with state legislators.
County and municipal actors also have great potential to perpetuate or eliminate the extreme racial disparities embedded within our criminal justice system. The Guide illustrates how local elected officials have a wide array of power and discretion to either decrease or increase our reliance on incarceration including local policies around whether to stop, to search, to arrest, to fine, to divert or charge someone, how long of a sentence to seek, and whether they will stay in county jail or go to a state prison.
The Guide provides a resource to build community power to make progress around racial justice and civil rights by holding elected leaders accountable. Increasingly, there is a push to direct limited tax dollars to fund more effective approaches and community led programs outside of the criminal justice system, including culturally responsive community supports that are more effective at prevention. There are multiple opportunities to engage in the budget process such as the county budget hearing hosted by the Coalition of Communities of Color.
For communities of color there is an added degree of urgency to this work that goes beyond the glaring racial disparities currently embedded within the justice system. Recently, some policy reforms across the country have led to a decrease in overall incarceration numbers but an increase in racial disparities. This troubling trend illustrates the necessity for communities of color to be included at the table in decision-making early on and to engage locally long after elections are won or reform bills are passed.
Currently, the Oregon Justice Resource Center is seeking community feedback, collaboration and ideas on approaches to transform the justice system at the local level. Presentations and assistance with facilitation are available free of charge. The Guide is publically available to download on the OJRC website here.
CCC & Metro Partnership: Leveraging the Value of Community Expertise When Making Important Decisions
This year the CCC organized multiple discussion-based community focus groups and conversations in the region to identify culturally specific community priorities and explore advocacy strategies while emphasizing community strengths. These activities included a spring and summer engagement of CCC Bridges Alumni with Metro to explore community priorities related to their five year racial equity strategy; eight culturally specific community conversations with African, African-American, Asian, Latino, Native American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, and Slavic communities about racial equity issues in Washington county; statewide cross-cultural focus groups to develop a multi-racial narrative around racial equity; and a City of Portland wide series of intersectional and multiracial focus groups about people’s experiences with hate-motivated violence.
The CCC’s method of engagement is rooted in our culturally specific leadership development model and our research justice vision that asserts that people of color are experts of their lived experiences and have a right to be heard and a right to know information. During these workshops we focus on trust building and intentionality by create a space for shared experiences to be heard and where the labor and expertise of people of color is valued.
Our approach embodies the following values:
- Equitable partnership -- equitable community involvement from the beginning to the end of the process rather than a one-way mining of a community’s experiential and cultural knowledge.
- Community Priorities – Elevating expertise of communities of color, emphasizing community strengths, and addressing self-determined community priorities.
- Transformative Action – Enabling community-generated solutions in public policy and decision making towards creating lasting change.
- Sustainable Capacity – Building long term and sustainable capacity among communities of color to develop their own expertise, define priorities and propose meaningful solutions which goes beyond a single project.
- Transparency and Accountability – Commitment to a transparent process with built in accountability where communities that were engaged have the opportunity to provide critical review.
- Our clients agree with these principles and value culturally specific experiential and cultural knowledge that is typically left out of mainstream and colonized definitions of knowledge.
In order to find out more about how you can conduct community engagement in a way that is equitable and rightfully values communities of color as experts, contact either Shweta Moorthy (email@example.com).
CCC Member Fall Fundraisers Galore!
This fall, a number of powerful events were hosted by our CCC members to showcase their work, their strength and the resiliency of communities of color. Here are just a few of the events that have successfully taken place during this season, along with some fun pictures from social media. There are still plenty of future opportunities for folks to come out, have a great night, see the beauty of our communities, and financially support the important work of these culturally specific organizations. Both Milagro and the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) have exciting events coming up soon! If you’re interested in finding out more information about these upcoming events, please click on the links below to connect with their respective websites.
The CCC Welcomes New CCC Executive Directors to Hacienda CDC & Portland African American Leadership Forum
Executive Director, Hacienda CDC
Tell us about yourself and your racial justice vision
Since I arrived in Oregon, I have been asked this questions many times. My approach to racial justice emerges from my upbringing in Mexico. I was born to a plumber and a homemaker in a small community in Central Mexico. As many families still do today, we grew up in poverty. My first memories of home are those of a tarpaper house with two rooms that leaked every time it stormed. This was stressful, but I didn’t know any differently—it was simply the way our life was, so I did not think of it as a challenge. I had a wonderful childhood playing in the mud or catching bugs in adjacent empty lots with my brothers and sister and our neighborhood friends. My parents always asked us to dream big and study hard, and they led by example. I watched as my father went from a plumber to building his own construction company and soon after, my mom followed her own dream and became a nurse.
My own family’s story demonstrates the vast potential already present in our communities of color and low-income families. I see it as Hacienda’s work to make sure our families can access the critical ingredients they need to unleash that potential: a stable, affordable home, a healthy family life that allows our youth to learn and grow, opportunities for economic success, and access to affordable health care and healthy communities. My family relied on all of these assets, and thanks to my parents’ encouragement I have had amazing opportunities such as becoming the youngest violinist in the chamber orchestra in my home state, pursing degrees in architecture and community development, and helping to found the Arizona State University Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family to empower other families like mine to seguir adelante. Now my partner, Susan, and I are passing these values along to our children Copitzi and Emiliano. And we’re also making sure they know about Benny Beaver, even though they grew up as Sun Devils!
My experiences and upbringing have shaped and strengthened my values and priorities. I joined Hacienda because we share those values with the people we serve; we shared the same struggles. Investing in our low- and moderate-income families and individuals from day one, in health care, housing, education and economic opportunity access are fundamental elements that will bring influence, resources and power to communities of color. And an Oregon where all Oregonians can reach their full potential is the version of Oregon we want to achieve.
What’s your favorite Fall-related activity?
Camping and getting to enjoy a nice and exhausting hike in the middle of the woods is one of my favorite things to do in the fall. Spending time in solitude contemplating nature is just amazing!
Executive Director, Portland African American Leadership Forum
Tell us about yourself and your racial justice vision.
I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and raised in Montego Bay, Jamaica. I have been very blessed to join the Portland African American Leadership Forum family. I joined PAALF after managing the PAALF People’s Plan—a visioning project with the goal of empowering the Portland Black community to assert their right to actively shape the city they live in, to create a plan that framed the policy agenda projecting the vision for a thriving black community, and to advance community-initiated projects that benefit Africans and African Americans living in Portland, Oregon.
Before joining PAALF, I owned and managed Design + Culture, a collaborative design and racial equity strategy firm. I received my Masters in Arts in Theories of Urban Practice from Parsons the New School of Design in New York City. My graduate thesis examined the role of people of color in urban transformation and the practice of self-determination as a mode for producing healthy communities in my study the Right To Difference - Intercultural Modes Of Producing A Democratic, Participatory, And Inclusive Urban Space. I attended Miami University, receiving a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science. I am an active member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., Pi Alpha Zeta Graduate Chapter, a member of the Miami University Young Alumni Council, and a member of the Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT).
My racial equity vision is grounded in self-determination. From the Nguzo Saba, we have come to know Self-determination as Kujichagulia, the meaning is to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves. The principle is rooted in reclamation and preservation of an afro-centric concept of self and community, by listening and being guided by our inner voice.
What's your favorite Fall related activity?
I love the Fall! My favorite fall activity would have to be baking treats for my friends and family. I am very proud to say that my paternal aunt has shared my family's secret sweet potato pie recipe (trust me, this was not an easy task). Food is such an intimate activity; it feels good to enjoy this special family recipe with loved ones.
How do you do Halloween Quiz!
Dear Friends, Colleagues, Partners, and Supporters:
Please join the Coalition of Communities of Color in welcoming our new Advocacy Director, Jenny Lee. Jenny brings extensive advocacy, convening, and facilitation skills along with a passion for racial justice. Jenny comes to CCC from Neighborhood Partnerships, where she helped convene the Oregon Housing Alliance, engaging coalition members and partners throughout the state and to help develop state legislative priorities to ensure all Oregonians have access to safe and decent housing. With her leadership and coalition building skills, the Housing Alliance secured several key legislative and funding victories. We are very excited to have her join the team. For more information about Jenny's background read her bio here.
Jenny Lee will begin on October 2nd, and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Latino Network is hosting Community Forums to provide resources and information to individuals and families affected by the Trump administration’s decision to repeal DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Legal experts will be available to answer general questions.
ES. Latino Network esta preparando una serie de foros comunitarios para proveer recursos e informacion para individu@s y sus familiares afectados por la decision de la administracion de Trump para revocar al programa de DACA. Expertos legales estaran disponibles para contestar preguntas generales
Dear Friends, Colleagues, Partners, and Supporters:
It is with much joy and a tinge of regret that I am announcing that Amanda is leaving the Coalition effective July 31st. Amanda has accepted the position as Director of Advocacy at Latino Network. Please join me in congratulating her on this important position where she will no doubt excel.
During her time at the Coalition of Communities of Color, Amanda effectively set up a strong foundation for the Coalition's advocacy work. Amanda worked collaboratively with our members to achieve several legislative accomplishments in this legislative session and increased legislative accountability through the to be published Racial Equity Report Card. This year, the CCC Lobby Day had over 150 participants. In the fall of 2016, under her leadership, CCC helped pass 4 out of the five ballot initiatives CCC endorsed, including more resources for affordable housing and resources to improve high school graduation rates. At the City, CCC helped pass the Small Donor Elections reform that will increase political power for communities of color in Portland.
Even though I only got the opportunity to work with her for a short time, I will miss her commitment to and skills in collaboration, coalition building, and social justice organizing. Amanda is inspiring to work with, and I am sure she will continue to accomplish great things for our community.
In the next few weeks, CCC will hire a new advocacy director. Click the button below to view the full job announcement, and please forward to your networks.
Bridges Alumni Provide Metro Input on their Equity Plan
This spring and summer, Metro has partnered with the Momentum Alliance, the CCC and our Bridges Alumni to help Metro better understand community priorities as they relate to the new 5-year equity strategy Metro has developed. This community summit focused on setting priorities for 4 of their prominent departments; Parks and Nature, Oregon Zoo, Property and Environmental Services, and Planning. This spring we had 36 participants from the tri-county region comprised of alumni representing all of our culturally specific Bridges Leadership Development Initiative programs. Participants will return in September to review the qualitative data collected by the CCC and Metro for a second round review. Final recommendations on community priorities will be finalized this October.
Remembering: Vanport 69th Anniversary
This past month, May 30th, 2017 marked the 69th anniversary of the Vanport flood. CCC wants to take a moment to remember this tragedy as it provides all of us with a critical lens into Oregon’s history surrounding race and class. This tragedy also gives us context for the importance of using a racial equity lens when we think about issues surrounding, housing, employment, healthcare, and more. Because we understand our history and how we are unconsciously controlled by it, CCC and our members are committed to reshaping our future. Click here to access our resource, ReBuilding Community, developed by the CCC, Redefine, and Urban League of Portland. This report provides a disparate impacts analysis and cross-cultural agenda to prevent displacement and gentrification.