Dear Meg, I recently received a copy of my alma mater's alumni news magazine and your article "Is Portland really Portlandia?" angered me. I am frustrated especially in light of the recent Blackface incident in North Portland. You detailed a "cultural diversity" here in our city that I don't agree with. You wrote, They [the young professionals] are committed to Portland and to all the city has to offer: cultural diversity, natural beauty, and a progressive political and social climate.The irony-cum-hypocrisy was especially poignant with the photo of all the lily-white faces at Ms. Tunstall's sewing factory. Seriously?
Please explain to me how a city that is 76% White is culturally diverse. A city where Mars Hill Church, an unabashedly homophobic and sexist religious organization set up shop in what was once a hippy heartland (the Hawthorne neighborhood). How is a city progressive when it can't solve its issues with homelessness, rampant gentrification and when the police force has admitted that it racially profiles? How can a city call itself "liberal" when it consistently votes against police accountability and statutes to assist the homeless?
The "cultural diversity" buzz phrase really angers me the most. Portland is home to a large DIY, sustainable/green, crafty organic type of culture, but it is still a monoculture practiced by mostly White upwardly mobile Middle Class heterosexuals who want to dye themselves as unique and progressive. It's still just a monoculture.
How does that qualify as diverse? That is not diversity. Bike lanes, pop-up shops and organic grocery stores are not diversity. This is especially true when they are here to serve the monoculture. To call Portland diverse insults the experience of the poor, the people of color and the queer folks who have to somehow exist within the phobic, classist and Whitewashed culture that Portland has created.
Please stop ignoring us.
A community member.