A More Humane and Just World, Black Lives Matter

Dear Friends,

Even as writers, we are struggling to find the words to express what we are feeling right now: rage, despair, fear, ineffectiveness, hopelessness, exhaustion, concern, solidarity, resolve.  

While these feelings may be overwhelming, the trauma the Black community is experiencing is far greater. Our hearts are heavy with sadness, grief and anger about the recent racist acts and senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Manuel Ellis and countless others. 

Racism and police brutality against Black people are embedded in the DNA of our society. During this pandemic we are already seeing how people of color are being disproportionately affected. The entrenched and systemic inequities in our society are especially exposed and achieving racial and social justice feels daunting. As an organization that values community, racism has no place here and we must do more. Our role in this moment demands we each take action to dismantle these systems and to care for our community.  

We recognize throughout our 21-year history, our staff, leadership and volunteer base have remained predominantly white. We recognize that Write Around Portland must do better so we don’t continue to contribute to racial inequities. We are in the early phases of incorporating racial equity work throughout our entire organization and ensuring this work is built into the foundation of Write Around Portland. We need to build these muscles of anti-racist work and continue to learn, listen and speak on human rights and justice issues.  

Our nation is hurting. Our team is hurting. Our community is hurting. The hurt is heavy. Our Black friends, family and community members have carried this burden their entire lives. No one should have to shoulder this alone. We must not be afraid to say Black Lives Matter and to act on these words.  

How will Write Around Portland be a community that cares? 

  • We will continue our racial equity and anti-racist work, including challenging and dismantling inequitable structures in our organization and the nonprofit sector. We acknowledge we will not be perfect in this work, and we move forward because we must.  
  • We will lean on our values of respect and community to guide us in building a more just and humane world through the power of writing.

  • We will amplify voices and stories. We will use our platforms for racial equity and anti-racist work, to amplify our partners and to respectfully share our writers’ stories in this context.

  • We will invite our community to join us in anti-racist work. 

Ways you can support the Black community and prevent further police brutality: 

  • Join The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) email list. By joining their mailing list, you can receive daily action items on how you can support the movement for Black Lives from low, medium to high-risk activities.
  • Advocate for police reform as recommended by Marcus C. Mundy, Executive Director of the Coalition of Communities of Color, in an open letter to the community titled “We Can’t Breathe.”
  • Get involved in and make contributions to local Portland organizations who center support for Black communities and consistently offer resources towards a more anti-racist world.
    • African American Health Coalition, Inc. Since 1989, The AAHC has consistently advanced health outcomes within Portland’s African American community through an innovative community-based approach to health and well-being.  
    • Black United Fund of Oregon In 1983, leaders in North and Northeast Portland combated inequality in philanthropy by starting the Black United Fund of Oregon to channel charitable funds to low-income areas.  
    • Care Not Cops Campaign PDX Care Not Cops is working to end the inherently violent and racist policing of Portland’s communities of color. 
    • Coalition of Communities of Color An alliance of culturally-specific community-based organizations with representation from the following communities of color: African, African American, Asian, Latino, Middle Eastern and North African, Native American, Pacific Islander and Slavic. 
    • Critical Resistance PDX is part of a larger national chapter dedicated to abolishing the prison industrial complex.  
    • Don’t Shoot Portland A social justice non-profit that promotes art, education and civic participation to create social change.   
    • Portland African American Leadership Forum envisions a world where people of African descent enjoy the rights, resources and recognition to be a thriving, resilient and connected community.  
    • Portland Legal and Bail Fund will be used to pay for bail, legal fees and fines, lawyers, discovery, investigations, personal material support and any other financial needs that arise during the legal process for protesters arrested during the current protests in Portland. Funds raised in excess of local needs will be directed to Black-led organizations working in Portland and bail funds supporting protesters in other US cities.  
    • Portland NAACP ensures the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and eliminates racial hatred and discrimination.  
    • Urban League of Portland One of Oregon’s oldest civil rights and social service organizations, empowering African Americans and others to achieve equality in education, employment, health, economic security and quality of life.

We have always appreciated how our community comes together. If you have questions or would like to connect further please contact our Community Engagement Manager, Jenny Chu at jchu@writearound.org to schedule a time to talk. 

We believe in respect, writing and community. We believe in the power of words to change hearts and minds. We deepen our commitment to racial equity. We work to build a more humane and just world.  

Please take time to take care of yourselves and your loved ones. 

With warmth, 

Jenny Chu, Liz Eslinger, Emily Garcia, Allie Molen, Allison Specter and Sarah Weller 

Chris Bodamer, Alex Larralde, Molly Newgard, Chenoa Philabaum, Kate Rood, Marisol Tawadros and Reggie Wideman 

Write Around Portland Staff and Board