Spike in Hate Crimes, Proliferation of Racism in Schools Comes into Full View

Registration for Oregon’s Women’s Health Network’s workshop on how whites can be better allies to vulnerable communities in the post-election world exceed space at its venue. Network planners now look to host additional workshops.

As a biracial woman, Kalii Nettleton says she identifies as both black and white, and feels a responsibility to speak up. “I bridge two worlds. If I want to live an anti-racist, feminist life”, and call out unacceptable speech and behavior, “life gets easier to move through when you learn words for the frustrations you’re having and you have work to put your frustrations into.” Nettleton was speaking at the Women’s Health Network workshop on racial oppression.

On a pyramid with racist thoughts at the wide bottom escalating to acts such as making racist jokes to outright discrimination to violence to genocide, Nettleton says the country “right now is in between discrimination and violence.”

“We allow it to happen – subtlety,” she said. “How are you a cog in the wheel?”

Participants shared their recent experiences calling out real-world incidents from comments made around the family Thanksgiving table to the classroom to a crowded train where asking an older white man to stop loudly using the n-word to describe the President prompted outrage from the man and silence from other passengers.

“Defensiveness is the No. 1 reaction,” Nettleton said. “We need to get uncomfortable.”

Shweta Moorthy, a researcher for the Coalition of Communities of Color is creating a website to document incidents of hate crimes and micro aggressions in Portland. “Sometimes it’s hard to identify what we just experienced as an aggressive, racist act,” Moorthy said.

“Race makes us uncomfortable like nothing else does,” said Choya Adkison-Stevens who works as equity and inclusion coordinator for the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence. She encouraged participants to get involved in the Portland Chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice — the local arm of a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice.

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