Don’t be color blind

A recent study shows Portland minorities are at a disadvantage. In a city that boasts a progressive outlook, it seems we may be all talk.

A recent study shows Portland minorities are at a disadvantage. In a city that boasts a progressive outlook, it seems we may be all talk.

Last week the Vanguard reported on a new study [“Portland minorities at a disadvantage,” May 25] showing certain inequalities for minorities in Multnomah County, evidenced by education and poverty rates. While these things are important to know, it also important to mention that this article would have been better published in the “Duh!” section.

The report in question, titled “Communities of Color in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Profile,” aims to outline the disparity in income, opportunity and other social dynamics between whites and minorities in Multnomah County. This is indeed a worthy cause. What worries me, however, is that there are people out there who don’t already know this.

Before diving into facts and numbers, let’s use a little common sense and everyday experience, shall we? Minorities do not exactly abound in downtown Portland. Granted, many groups are well represented on the Portland State campus, but the west side of the river is overwhelmingly white. Take a walk around fancy-schmancy Northwest Portland and keep an eye out for what kind of people you see living and walking around there.

This is even more noticeable when compared to the east side of the river.

For those who don’t know, this is called gentrification, and it is loosely defined as reforming areas to suit the tastes of the middle class, thereby pushing out other classes.

Gentrification has long been a standard practice in the Portland area. You know that area of Northwest Portland lovingly referred to as the Pearl? Well, that used to be a largely industrial area. After it was remodeled with trendy clubs, bars and restaurants, housing prices nearby were driven up and some renters—mostly minorities—were pushed out.

The report also outlines other trends like disparities in education, occupation and housing, the gist being that minorities largely live in lower-income areas and do not have access to education on par with that of many white communities. I could go on, or you could go and read the report yourself.

The point, however, is that you really shouldn’t have to. These are things that anyone with two eyes and brain can see and know.

The media is particularly good at pointing out how racist this country still is, by emphasizing the subject at all. The fact that we make such a huge deal about the race of our president goes a long way towards illustrating my point.

I do appreciate the Coalition of Communities of Color and Portland State for organizing all the information about racial inequality, truly I do. Education on this topic certainly is important. It is even more important, however, to educate yourself.

Open your eyes and take a look around. Look at where minorities live and what resources are open to them as opposed to “nicer” areas like Tigard and Hillsboro. Talk to people about their history and experiences and, most of all, just use common sense and pay attention to things like the news, films and other media.

If you think we live in a city, progressive as it is, that is beyond racism, you may need to have your head examined. Or at least your eyesight.