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Black Memories

Keeping it real means talking truth without apology to any of the readers of this BlackAngryWomen post. If any person feels offended, ask yourself why!

There was a time when Black people lived and socialized together and we welcomed that we were separate from White folk in the city of Portland, Oregon. White racism was an ever-present threat and force; and we Blacks knew well who our enemy was — both the White man and the White woman. Black interactions with respect to Whites was both formal and limited for the most part.  Our Black adults knew well the caustic, manipulative and dangerous nature of White people.

My Black father and other Black men and Black women established Black businesses designed to serve and service our Black community.   Blacks worked hard and creatively and many many Blacks bought homes and other income-producing properties.  Yes, Black communities have and can thrive and grow independently! 

Portland’s Black community was safe, peaceful, caring and supportive.  We knew each other and our children played and learned together.  Black youth knew the adults in our community and the adults knew and cared about us.  We who were young had genuine respect for our Black elders and we regularly heard and listened to our elders’ words of wisdom and advice.  Yes, Black youth loved dearly our Black elders and they loved us.  Black people visited the homes of each other at will and always we were welcomed. 

In the Black community of Portland, as neighbors, we helped one another without charge.  If there was a ‘known’ need, someone would step forth to fulfill that need. Black youth often carried a neighbor’s grocery bags inside the neighbor’s home.  Blacks often mowed neighboring lawns and shoveled the snow off the sidewalks.  While in grocery stores, Black youth often carried the grocery bags to a Black shopper’s car.  These were just a few of the many everyday practices that went unnoticed and that helped to develop Black youth into responsive and caring adults.  Uppermost, Black youth always showed and gave respect to our Black elders. 

So, the world was different when BlackParentSpeaks was a child.  And, the world was different when BlackParentSpeaks was a young and middle-aged adult.  I value and cherish the memories of times past.  Money and things meant little when compared to ‘Black’ human interactions.  We cared for each other, we valued each other and we looked out for each other.  We respected each other.  We listened to each other.  We had ‘Black’ self-love and we loved one another with few exceptions.  Urban Renewal (Black Removal), gentrification and school integration have been negatives for our Black communities across this country.  Hear my words:  Urban Renewal (Black Removal), gentrification and school integration have been negatives for our Black communities across this country.

Please do not fall prey to veiled and/or unveiled ‘White’ actions, rhetoric and other attempts to destroy and damage Black progress ever again…. Recognize that such attempts can be manifested by Whites, Blacks and others. Be Aware and be informed!

I urge our Black young and older Blacks NOT to become victims of their ignorance and/or lustful desires.  Reclaim your past and who you are intended to be.  Stop the clowning, stop the foolishness.  Stop selling yourselves, stop selling-out other Blacks, and stop gatekeeping for White folk!  Reach out and touch that which has been lost by you.  Appreciate those of us who gave so much with you in mind … Fannie Lou, Stokely ‘Black Power’ Carmichael lka Kwame Ture, Marion Barry, Sister KoKo, Brother Lester, Sister Betty, Brother Dick, Rev. David Eaton, Brother Martin, Brother Karenga, Sister Eleanor Matthews, Brother Featherstone, Brother Gaston, BlackParentSpeaks and so many many many more.   We did and gave with YOU in mind.  

Peace and Black Love!

Do NOT forget our Reparations.

 


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Vanport and Black Genocide in Oregon

Vanport and Black Genocide in Oregon

As an infant, I surmise that life was relatively simple for yours truly.  Growing in conscious awareness, however, I quickly saw the difference between Black folk and White folk.  And, as I survived the racist nature of Whites in Oregon, I gained firsthand insight into the ugliness of racism.

The Black community in Oregon was rich in culture, knowledge, wisdom, survival skills, watchfulness, and love.  Our elders were so very gifted and – in spite of the horrors many were privy to and subjected to – those who survived maintained their humanity.

Life was not easy for Black people in a racist Oregon.  The 1940s had brought a relatively high number of Black men and Black women and their families to the Oregon area.  We had been recruited and encouraged to move to Oregon to work in the Shipyards.  The government had helped in financing the building of a manmade city (think of ‘White’ Edgar F. Kaiser and today’s Kaiser Permanente) for us to live in.  Blacks were given verbal assurances by White officials that we would be safe and secure living in the manmade city named Vanport.

Following the ‘war’ years, however, the Black adults who remained in Vanport knew that we had lost our wartime usefulness to the Whites of Oregon.  Meetings were held and we Blacks were again repeatedly promised by White officials that we would be safe remaining in Vanport.  We were told that Vanport was secure and that we did not need to worry about the city flooding or anything else.

In short time, the White man’s word proved to be worthless and the city of Vanport flooded in 1948.

The Black adults who survived the 1948 Vanport flood often reminisced and – sometimes mulled over — the events and timeliness of the Vanport flood.  They expressed that the flood was an intentional racist attempt to eliminate their Black presence in Oregon.  And, although I was but a child at the time of the Vanport flood, I was always allowed to be present during adult talk and discussions.

In spite of the accepted ‘official’ government counts, the Black men and women who lived in Vanport knew firsthand that the number of Blacks who died in the flood was far greater than recorded in ‘official’ records.

I am a ‘Black’ survivor of Vanport.  My account of events is non-negotiable!  And, by the way, my Black family never received a dime in compensation for our losses nor did we receive any government assistance.  Likewise, we did not receive any help or even an apology from ‘White’ Edgar F. Kaiser who so richly profited as a result of Vanport.

Nuff’ said.

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