4th Avenue to Be Renamed After Chavez

The Portland City Council voted yesterday to rename SW 4th Avenue in downtown after Cesar Chavez, capping a long and heated debate on the subject. The name change had originally been proposed for Interstate Avenue in Northeast Portland, but City Councilors substituted 4th Avenue as an alternative option when residents around Interstate objected to the change.

From the Oregonian:

Race, promises and politics all came to a head Thursday as the Portland City Council voted to rename Fourth Avenue in downtown for farmworker champion Cesar Chavez.

At the end of an emotional four-hour hearing that capped months of rancorous debate and charges of racism, council members said they hoped the compromise would be seen as a fitting tribute to a Latino hero in a city that has none.

"I see this as a way of taking it from not-in-my-backyard to putting Cesar Chavez in our front yard," Commissioner Dan Saltzman said.

In choosing Fourth Avenue, the council turned down a proposal pushed by Mayor Tom Potter and a committee of Latino leaders to rename North Interstate Avenue for Chavez.

The name change, passed on a 4-1 vote, won't be official until the city planning commission holds hearings and the renaming proposal returns to the council for a final vote. An ordinance setting out that procedure will come to the council next week.

Mayor Tom Potter was the lone vote against the proposal:

Potter cast the only vote against renaming Fourth Avenue, saying he was saddened by the action.

"In my heart, I will always believe that renaming Interstate was the right thing to do," he said.

The other commissioners spoke about what they saw as a flawed process that unnecessarily set the Latino community against North Portland businesses and residents near Interstate Avenue.

"I think it's time to end the ugliness," said Saltzman, who along with Commissioner Erik Sten came up with the Fourth Avenue compromise and sold it to the other council members during intense conversations Wednesday.

Saltzman said the city was at legal risk for not using the proper procedures in exploring the Interstate renaming. And he worried that a threatened referendum sponsored by opponents would turn into a divisive debate over immigration policy.

The Council also came under fire from proponents of the original plan to rename Interstate:

Maria Lisa Johnson, executive director of the Latino Network, lashed out at the four council members for substituting their judgment for the choice of the Latino leaders who picked Interstate.

Decisions in liberal Portland "are still made behind closed doors by white men who have our best interest at heart," Johnson said.

Ron Herndon, executive director of Albina Head Start and a longtime civil rights activist, said the renaming committee took the commissioners at their word when they indicated they supported the plan. Now, the committee feels betrayed, he said.

"What makes it worse, is you are talking to people who have had promises broken for generations," Herndon said.

Commissioners defended their change of heart, arguing that their early backing for Interstate depended on support from the neighboring community, and when that didn't materialize, they had a right to reconsider and to look for a way out of the mess.

Read the rest. Discuss.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    For what it is worth, I think this was a good solution to an ugly situation. It honors Chavez in an extremely visible way, and respects the opinions of the communities around Interstate, who (some for good, some for bad reasons) wanted to preserve their street name. Good work, Randy Leonard, for spearheading this solution.

    What I hope for the future is that the city follows the process it has laid down for street renaming. I also hope that we can come up with more substantive ways to deal with the racial divisions in our city. Naming a street after Chavez is a great symbolic gesture...but that is all it is.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Gee, what politicians will do so they can feel good about themselves.

    Bob Tiernan

  • divided we fall (unverified)
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    Thanks to Tom Potter for needlessly dividing the community and sparking and flaming racial tensions.
    This ego maniac has gone from just being a waste of space to being damaging. It would be great if we had a mayor who wanted to actually do something other than pander to a few retread activists every few months and lecture the rest of us from on high.
    Where did arbitrarily renaming Interstate come up on Potter's Vision document, since that visioning exercise is his signature project?
    There should be a standard, transparent, and inclusive process for honoring people and renaming streets. Chavez was a great man, and this process and the politics around it were a disgrace. Instead we get knee jerk reactions, pandering, and race baiting self righteousness. In the end though, this is what Portland deserves - we elected this useless blow-hard.
    The 4th ave solution seems like the best solution left to get this thing over with and move on. I'm glad a majority of the council acted to solve a problem rather than grandstand and divide.

  • Bob R. (unverified)
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    Bob Tiernan wrote "Gee, what politicians will do so they can feel good about themselves."

    Gee, Bob, what procedure would you propose for when street naming becomes contentious?

    Should we never name streets at all? Only have numbers? Should everyone's address be a GPS coordinate?

    If we're going to have named public streets, someone, somewhere in Government is going to have to approve or coordinate the naming.

    There were a lot of problems with process which led to this highly charged situation, but at the end of the day somebody with some degree of authority is going to have to answer the question of "yes or no" to naming a street, followed closely by "where" and "when" and "how".

    Can't get around that if we have named public streets.

    Or would you simply privatize all city streets?

    Thanks for being so helpful.

    • Bob R.
  • LiberalIncarnate (unverified)
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    I believe that naming a street that goes through the heart of Chinatown, Cesar Chavez is pretty lame. Unfortunately, no matter what street they attempt to rename they are likely to face challenges. However, let's at least keep our numbered avenues, can we please?

    How about a park? Or a Farmer's Market? Or a long section of highway?

    [Bizarre and inappropriate attack on another commenter removed. -editor]

  • (Show?)

    I understand that those pushing for Interstate to become Chavez were frustrated by the process, but I'm unclear why they are unhappy with the end result.

    What is it about Interstate that made it the ideal candidate for them?

  • LiberalIncarnate (unverified)
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    [Bizarre and inappropriate attack on another commenter removed. -editor]

  • (Show?)
    There should be a standard, transparent, and inclusive process for honoring people and renaming streets.

    I agree. Not to take anything away from Chavez but wouldn't it make more sense as well as be more inline with Portland's street naming history to look to LOCAL heros?

    I'm at work and don't have access to double-check the name but my copy of Portland magazine mentioned a local black women who had fought hard for civil rights in Portland. I'd never heard of her. Why not name a street after her or some other LOCAL person? And then after those individuals names have been exhausted THEN look to heros from outside of Oregon?

  • pablo (unverified)
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    White men behind closed doors making decisions?

    I did not hear any latinos complain about County Commissioners Serena Cruz and Maria Rojo-Steffey (two brown women?) when they made decisions behind closed doors that benefited the latino community.

    When things don't go their way they cry racism?

    Get over it!

    Their are more important issues to deal with in the community. Let's get back to work.

  • (Show?)

    I'm all for naming a street after Cesar Chavez, but this is so dumb. The primary purpose of a street's name is to:

    a) Aid in navigation by distinguishing one street from others. b) Provide recognition for great historical figures.

    Now, I'm not saying we should have a system with all numbers in each direction, using Streets and Avenues to distinguish N-S streets from E-W. Though this would be ideal in terms of finding one's way around, it would also be sadly monotonous and uncreative. Furthermore, we'd still have random streets like Sandy, Foster, and many others (in Ladd's and Laurelhurst, for example), which don't conform to the grid.

    Why oh why can we not keep the numbered streets? As I said in the other thread, there is no shortage of streets with names of little or no historical significance that could be renamed. Interstate (personally, I think this would've been a great choice and wish this had all been handled better, especially since Interstate hasn't actually run between states for decades), Grand (without Union, its name is sort of pointless), and Division (doesn't divide the town N-S as once envisioned anyway) all come to mind.

  • Norm! (unverified)
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    This just goes from bad to worse. So now the council has forced a change on 4th Ave/Chinatown businesses and residents without public input or proper notice?

    Instead of blind-siding neighborhoods, why can't the council find a neighborhood or business district that wants the change? What about SE Division St, SW Vista Ave., NE 33rd Ave, NW 23rd Ave, Sunset Highway (probably a state decision), SE 12th Ave., NE 15th Ave., NE Sandy, 102nd Ave, 122nd Ave (I always confuse 102nd and 122nd), 82nd Ave., etc.?

    This street renaming "process" (i.e. whatever-we-can-get-away-with) is outrageous. Renaming promoters need to stop calling opponents racists.

  • (Show?)

    Sorry to repeat myself, but I really want to understand this: apart from (valid) concerns about the process, why do those backing the Interstate naming oppose renaming other streets instead (like 4th?) Is this simply a protest against the process, or is there a more substantive point to be made?

    And for bonus points, why doesn't the media bother to ask this question?

    How do we convince ourselves we're having a "public debate" without even trying to understand the foundational desires of all sides?

  • KLC (unverified)
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    If the mayor, council and renaming committee had followed the policies for renaming a street in the beginning, Interstate would not have met the criteria, only one street name change in an area per year. Portland Blvd was changed this year. It seems to many N Portland residents that the proponents and mayor thought this would just slide through with very little opposistion, who cares what happens in N Portland.

  • Ted (unverified)
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    I agree with KLC, the main thing was people in NoPo just felt like another thing was being shoved down their throats. What will be interesting now is to see what kind of reaction we get from the SW 4th business community and how City Hall reacts to it. The Chinatown issue is just one example of how rediculous this is (though I'm not sure if NW 4th would change), but now you're renaming where many afflent professionals have offices. Do they want to change all their business cards and letterheads and websites? Are they going to be racists, too?

    I think Potter should be glad he's retiring. Adams definitely doesn't need this mess, but he just stepped in it up to his ankles and I don't expect the issue to go away before May 2008.

    Also, all the pro street name change people (Potter included) were the first to play the race card without doing any surveys of NoPo opponents attitudes or reasons for opposing the change. Playing the race card just out of political opportunism IS racism! The Latino Network used racism when it was completely unsupported (If they have some valid research, I'd like to see it) and did more harm to race relations. I don't think Cesar Chavez himself would have endorsed Latino Network's tactics.

  • Robert Harris (unverified)
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    The fact that renaming supporters didn't hail naming a major street in honor of Chavez as a victory (or at least a partial victory) should make it apparent to anyone that this whole thing was about certain individual egos and "winning".

    Its unfortunate that some people placed their personal prestige ahead of community.

    I do think that perhaps renaming Division would have been a better choice. Can you imagine, "Cesar Chavez Way" instead of Division.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Bob Tiernan:

    Gee, what politicians will do so they can feel good about themselves.

    Bob R.:

    Gee, Bob, what procedure would you propose for when street naming becomes contentious?

    Bob Tiernan:

    I wouldn't rename any of them to begin with, nor would I name new government buildings after crooks like Hatfield (who kept people out of courthouses when he inserted such wording into timber-cutting bills). Cascadia Federal Courthouse sounds better.

    Bob R.

    Can't get around that if we have named public streets.

    Or would you simply privatize all city streets?

    Bob Tiernan:

    I don't see how suggesting privatizing streets deals with the issue.

    Again, have at it with new streets (if you allow them). The politicians and special interests can still pick naes that make themselves feel good about themselves.

    Bob Tiernan

  • (Show?)
    Ron Herndon, executive director of Albina Head Start...

    And we wonder why this turned ugly?

  • bill (unverified)
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    Inflammatory letter and heartfelt rant to follow.

    Here's some fodder for the dim. An open letter to Victoira Taft...one of my local heroes and one of her audience of seven.

    Victoria,

    This is probably not apropos to the specifics of street name changes.

    But it is related and I just gotta say it. I listened for as long as I could stand to the radio broadcast regarding the City Council meeting, and its bald faced pandering to a specific minority, on a stupid street name change.

    First, I think the owner of the Nighthawk did a bang up job at holding the cities feet to the fire...KUDOS from an old shipyard guy!

    But after listening to council members and mayoral candidates speak eeeeendlessly about feeling this or that; and about not wanting to offend him or her or them, and all the finger pointing and scrambling because they got caught with their little panties down around their ankles….it was all I could do to not scream like a blithering idiot at my radio to the dolts running Portland.

    In abject honest inquiry: Is this TRULY the best that Portland can do for leadership? Are these panty-waisted “men” truly what drives Portland perspective? Are these IDIOTS, so concerned about feelings and offense, rather than stepping up and taking care of business in a direct and expedient manner…are these clowns really what drives Portland?

    It was one of the most disheartening performances I have ever seen/heard from a public servant on any level anywhere, anywhen...truly embarrassing.

    bill

    I'll waste no more energy here. Thanks for letting me vent on this stupid issue which could have been handled much more effectively by kindergarteners.

  • Bob R. (unverified)
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    Bob Tiernan responded "I wouldn't rename any of them to begin with"

    But Bob, that's just avoiding the issue. Street names have to come from somewhere, and even if the current rename procedures had been followed to the letter (which they weren't), the matter would have wound up in the domain of the city council sooner or later.

    If you want to change the law so that any street can never be renamed, you'll have to bring that before the council as well.

    The reason I brought up privatization of public streets (which I do NOT support), is because that seems to be the only way you can get your wish to have the city council completely uninvolved in naming decisions.

    • Bob R.
  • PORTLANDSUCKS (unverified)
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    I have an idea for all your morons in Portland. Rename the City to Ciudad Cesar Chavez.

  • (Show?)

    Robert H, that's definitely the impression that comes across.

    Bob R, the bar for renaming streets could certainly be set higher, though.

    As far as I'm concerned, any group backing a name change should demonstrate very, very, very broad public support before we start devoting City Council time to an issue like this.

    The tragedy of this situation is that nobody found out how much dissent there was in the neighborhoods until after wheels had been set into motion. Can't say I know exactly how that came to pass, but I'm sure there's enough blame to go around.

    We have bigger problems in this city.

  • (Show?)

    But bill, is that letter "Constitutional" after all, inquiring minds want to know...?

    (scroll)

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: PORTLANDSUCKS | Nov 16, 2007 12:33:56 PM

    (scroll)

  • Rodrigo (unverified)
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    The pro name change leaders were just unbelievable. Despicable vulgar tactics of tarring all those opposed as racist (explicitly or by innuendo). They made it clear that for them this was about power and ego, nothing more. Truly disgusting and shameless.

    They do not deserve to be associated in any way with the name of Cesar Chavez, ever.

  • Rodrigo (unverified)
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    The city charter should be amended so as to lay out an exact process to followed and criteria to be met in order to change a street name. NO EXCEPTIONS. Preferably it would raise the bar so high as to make it damn near impossible. The other option would be to get the renaming on the ballot.

  • (Show?)

    there are a lot of ways for a city to demonstrate the values of its citizens. street-naming is a very important one. names like 4th don't actually mean a lot; Interstate did mean something once (i'm guessing) but that history appears to be pretty gone for most people. names like MLK, Rosa Parks & Cesar Chavez will actually have real meanings -- as do McCall & Naito.

    process, too, says a lot about a city and as a citizen who didn't see a lot of the actual process and only the repurcussions, it seems clear this process didn't work very well. and given that there are people in this state who are very good at leading public decision-making processes, anything that is guaranteed to be as multi-perspectived as this renaming should have been led by a neutral facilitator. with good faith and creativity from participants, these things can usually have a win-win-win outcome. it's a shame that the naming of a street after a great American is going to have an ugly shadow of animosity. of course, in a sad way, that's simply another aspect of what made Chavez great: persevering thru all the ugliness thrown his, and his people's, way.

  • Jack (unverified)
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    "I do think that perhaps renaming Division would have been a better choice. Can you imagine, "Cesar Chavez Way" instead of Division."

    It certainly would have been more entertainingly ironic. Division is all this renaming debacle has engendered. Thanks very much Tom Potter. Thanks very much Latino Network. Great job!

    Kevin, you're probably thinking of Beatrice Cannady, a prominent black activist in Portland during the 1910s-1930s, co-founder of the local NAACP chapter, editor of the local black newspaper during that period, anti-segregationist, graduate of L&C Law School, resident of NE Portland (to my best recollection), etc., etc., etc. She's far too obvious a choice to have a street named for her.

    Bob R., THERE IS ALREADY A PROCESS FOR RENAMING STREETS, established after the acrimony that the MLK renaming created. The Council utterly ignored it, repeating the mistakes of history. And all to pander to a tiny but exceptionally shrill group of professional race baiters. Morons all. I won't be voting for any of them ever again. They have proven themselves to be not only utterly incompetent, but openly contemptuous of the democratic process.

    Speaking of incompetent autocrats, I nominate Tom Potter for worst mayor in Portland's history. Anyone second the motion?

  • bflo (unverified)
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    What Mayor Potter said was almost true: "In my heart, I will always believe that renaming Interstate was the right thing to do." Only, it should have been renamed to Rosa Parks Way. This has been said elsewhere, but, having bus lanes, Interstate Ave is more suited to the legacy of Rosa Parks. Why didn't someone point this out last year when the Portland Blvd. change occured? Because our "Name Change Fever" lacks a guiding vision.

    Also, why isn't 82nd street on a list of options for Chavez Blvd? It's a huge street with a diverse population. Again, the reason is a lack of vision. SW 4th was just is a somewhat uncontroversial option slipped into the mix to clean up an unexpected mess.

    We could do so much better for our communities and the heroes we're trying to honor by putting context over convenience in these major name changes.

  • Rodrigo (unverified)
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    Done.

  • Jordan Lund (unverified)
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    I understand wanting to "diversify" street names in our city, really, I do. White liberal guilt really knows no ends.

    But is it too much to ask that when someone gets a street named after them that they might, oh, I don't know, actually have some kind of connection to the Portland area?

    I don't remember this kind of furor when Front Avenue was named "Naito Parkway", why? Because the Naito family is a fixture in the Portland area. They have contributed to the success of our city.

    Find someone of equal merit in the local Latino community and name a street (any street!) after them.

  • Sarah C (unverified)
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    The bottom line is that all of this fell apart when Saltzman's office renamed Portland Blvd. They ignored all of the rules and pushed it through. Then Potter ran it downhill from there.

    For starters a person must have died at least five years before a street can be named for them. Rosa Parks did not meet that criteria. Then 2500 signatures must be collected to set the plan in motion. Not done on either. If anyone would have approved of that step it would have been Ceasar Chavez. He believed in not only talking to people but listening to then as well.

    I can't blame the Latino community or the community around Interstate for being upset. The Latino community went to the Mayor who told them it would be done. He had a responsibilty to explain the process to them. Then he could have helped them to accomplish their goal. Instead he decided that even though we voted against having a strong mayor form of government he would force us to have one.

    The Interstate community wanted to follow the process set out by law and to be respected. They got neither. Yes, some people acted in a way that makes me angry and ashamed. That was not everyone and the others deserved better. As a city we will be living with the anger around this for a long time.

    Shame on the whole lot of them - Potter, Saltzman, Leonard, Adams and Sten. All of them should have insisted on following the rules that council put into place. All of them have set the stage for this to happen again in the future. None of them should have their jobs for long after this.

  • Kija Persson (unverified)
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    Those who argue that opposition to the name change on Interstate was rooted in racism don't have to go far to collect the evidence. After all, this is ostensibly a left-of-center forum, but racism, white privilege and typical white assumption of the victim role are rife in these posts. Imagine what the right-wing forums are like, if this is the best the so-called progressives of Oregon can do.

    There was a reason Interstate was preferred by members of the Latino community. It goes through Latino neighborhoods - unlike 4th Ave. This has been reiterated over and over again, but is conveniently ignored.

    The idea that a local black leader, no matter how deserving of recognition, can be substituted for a Latino leader who inspired the nation is offensive in the extreme. The proposal basically suggests that all people of color are alike - or that the Latino community has no leaders of their own, or else suggests such appalling ignorance that the writers should just turn off her computer and go back to school.

    Portland has named street after many extremely undeserving people, but try to name a street after someone who actually fought to make people's lives richer and better and, if he's brown, the usually hidden racism that undergirds our city comes out in full force.

  • (Show?)

    ROFL, yeah, the entire city council should be voted out of office because of a totally botched street renaming. Get real and get a grip people.

  • (Show?)
    Kevin, you're probably thinking of Beatrice Cannady, a prominent black activist in Portland during the 1910s-1930s, co-founder of the local NAACP chapter, editor of the local black newspaper during that period, anti-segregationist, graduate of L&C Law School, resident of NE Portland (to my best recollection), etc., etc., etc. She's far too obvious a choice to have a street named for her.

    Yep, that's her!

    Martin Luther King Jr has long been one of my personal heros and I don't wish to take anything away from his legacy and it's value to Portland... BUT I don't understand why Beatrice Cannady BLVD wasn't already a done deal before Portland even considered non-Oregonians like MKL or Chavez.

    It's not like Portland doesn't already have a very long history of naming streets after locals. There are myriad streets long since named after wealthy founders of the bustling city we see today. Others like Naito and McCall have more recently had streets named in their honor/memory.

    Seriously... I honestly don't get why either side of this most recent dust-up is arguing over Chavez while Cannady's memory continues to languish in near obscurity.

  • (Show?)
    The idea that a local black leader, no matter how deserving of recognition, can be substituted for a Latino leader who inspired the nation is offensive in the extreme. The proposal basically suggests that all people of color are alike - or that the Latino community has no leaders of their own, or else suggests such appalling ignorance that the writers should just turn off her computer and go back to school.

    It suggests no such thing and frankly your reaction is itself racist.

    I think Cannady should have been recognized before MLK was. The point is that she's from PORTLAND. He wasn't.

    Nominate a local latino, no matter how obscure and I'll say the same about her/him versus Chavez! It's not about great individuals like Chavez and MLK, it's about PORTLAND. Or... lacking that then about OREGON. Cannady directly, personally helped Portlanders. She lived and worked HERE. Why should someone who didn't directly work with and help PORTLANDERS get honored while she's not?

    Or... is the issue that her skin wasn't the "correct" shade of brown???

  • kija (unverified)
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    First, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Cesar Chavez all had tremendous effect on the lives of Portlanders. One reason they are honored is that their lives had an effect far beyond parochial boundaries.

    And they had more direct effects in the region as well. For example, the farmworker union PCUN was founded by Cipriano Ferrell, trained and developed by Chavez. And Cannaday may be deserving, but you were suggesting her as a substitute for a Latino leader - and didn't even know her name, by the way.

    By the way, I love your assumption that I am a Latino biased against African-Americans, the usual bullying response of whites when someone calls them on their privilege is to make a counter-charge of racism. Anything to avoid looking rationally at the racism inherent in the suggestion that your white opinion is more valid than Latino opinion...or the blithe assumption that blacks can be substituted for Latinos on your say-so.

    Check your karma, Kevin.

  • ws (unverified)
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    "There was a reason Interstate was preferred by members of the Latino community. It goes through Latino neighborhoods..." Kija Persson

    I think I've read that a number of Latinos have lived or live along Interstate or thereabouts, but have never heard much of anything clearly indicating areas around Interstate as Latino neighborhoods. Does the avenue actually have something like that? Such as a cluster of Latino stores, restaurants, a neighborhood center, churches? Kija, if you know about those things, why don't you tell us of them?

    If Latino neighborhoods did exist along Interstate there would likely have been overwhelming support in favor of the name change. So far, that doesn't seem to be the case.

  • TWSS (unverified)
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    Fer chrissakes, can we all just agree to quit calling each other racists?! It's like that corollary to Godwin's law - once you've compared another poster to Hitler, you automatically lose the argument.

    I live less that a block from Rosa Parks Way, and less than four blocks from Interstate. Our neighbors of every color are almost unanimous in opposition to this name change. We've already had to deal with the ramifications of the Portland Blvd. name change, and they're shoving another one down our throats?! Long term residents can't help but feel that we're merely the dumping ground for the misplaced good intentions of the city council.

    They should have followed the existing process for the Portland Blvd. renaming AND the Interstate Ave. renaming. If they don't want Arbor Lodge residents getting defensive and upset, they shouldn't have tried to do an end-run around the community vetting process to pander to a growing voting bloc.

  • kija (unverified)
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    Sure, when we all agree to stop beings racists.

  • TWSS (unverified)
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    Also, if you're curious about what areas have the highest density of Latino populations, check out this map of 2000 census data. If the issue is that we want to site the new Cesar Chavez Blvd. to run through Latino neighborhoods, it should really be in St Johns or Gresham.

  • Bob R. (unverified)
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    Jack admonished me, in ALL CAPS, "Bob R., THERE IS ALREADY A PROCESS FOR RENAMING STREETS"

    Yes, Jack, I believe I mentioned it.

    I was specifically responding to Bob Tiernan's complaint about the city council being involved.

    Regardless of the process, or whether or not it was followed correctly, it is still true that any renaming decision for a public street is going to land with the city council at some point.

    I'm not sure why you chose to pounce on my remarks, because I don't think we disagree that there was an existing process defined by law.

    • Bob R.
  • susan (unverified)
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    Why do people only suggest only Eastside streets as substitutes for Interstate or 4th? The westside deserves a chance. And Kijja, there are some Latinos on Interstate, recently. Historically it is populated by ethnic Poles and plain old working class white people- so of course they are not allowed a voice in this matter. When the "leaders" who "worked so hard" for the name change are "insulted" that the most central street in Portland is being named after their hero, it demonstrates that they could care less about Cesar Chavez, this is all about their own show of power.

  • TWSS (unverified)
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    The problem, kija, is that you don't know Kevin is a racist any more than he knows you are a racist. Using a powerful word like that in ignorance says more about the person using it than the person it's being used against.

  • (Show?)
    And Cannaday may be deserving, but you were suggesting her as a substitute for a Latino leader

    No, that's the ass-u-mption that you made because it fit with your apriori prejudice.

    I explicitly suggested that I would find a LOCAL latino hero preferable to a non-Oregonian latino, just as I explicitly suggested that Cannady (a Portlander) would be preferable to MLK (not a Portlander).

    Furthermore, I tried to make the point that non-Portland/Oregon heros would be great nominees for street name changes AFTER we'd honored local heros of color.

  • (Show?)

    This is intended for Kija, but could apply equally to anyone speaking on behalf of the Interstate renaming:

    You won't raise your estimation in my eyes until you take some degree of ownership of the contentious mess this has devolved into. Surely, if you had more clearly anticipated the nature of the opposition to your project, you could have addressed things with other stakeholders before making it a citywide concern.

    To claim that racism is the single trait motivating your opponents is ludicrous and demagogic. Everyone knows that is not true (though I don't hear anyone denying that racism may be PART of the issue.) I suspect you know that as well, but are resorting to the most knee-jerk-inducing tactic you know out of desperation.

    Decisions about common property, like streets, take a lot of work. I don't deny that you put in a lot of work, but you clearly did not put in enough; the shrillness and divisiveness of the debate over the issue proves that beyond doubt.

    Recognize that you could have done better. Until you do, you're just wasting our time.

  • (Show?)

    Pulling the race card against Saltzman, Sten and Adams? You have to be kidding? Herndon and Johnson should be ashamed of themselves. What does a person have to do in this town to prove they are progressive? Share their wife? Kill a goat? Geeze.

    [Inappropriate call for violence removed. -editor]

    There are times when pulling the race card is needed as we do have some racist people out there. However, unless someone can make a case that any of the people sitting on the Portland city council today are racist outside of not supporting this nutty idea of naming Interstate Ave after Chaves. They should keep their comments on the issue at hand and leave the race bating at home.

    Civil Rights leader....my big black behind. The last civil rights leader was killed in April of 1968. We have had nothing but crooks, criminals and wanna bees around since.

    Fred

  • kija (unverified)
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    Actually, I do know that Kevin is a racist. He grew up in America and for a white person to pretend to be unaffected by our racist culture and not acknowledge white privilege is like pretending you can swim in pool and not get wet. I admit quite freely that as a white person, my perceptions are influenced by the racism I grew up in as well. Maybe when people get less defensive when their racism is checked, they might actually examine what they say and do and begin to address racism instead of hiding it under the rug and pretending it doesn't exist.

    Racism will never be eliminated if we all have to cater to white sensibilities and our collective falling into a faint whenever someone call us on our racism.

    Do I claim racism is the single motivation - no, surely there are businesses who dislike reprinting stationery and so on. They will survive, just as the companies that predicted catastrophe over Union and Portland Blvd name changes survived. Every time a street has come up for renaming, the same brouhaha has happened, this time the Council caved.

    Most people who opposed Interstate rooted their opposition in objecting to the process - the usual objection of people uncomfortable with their real objections. Yet now, many are fine with 4th, where's the process here? They pulled it out of their asses. It wasn't even on the list. Yet, this is okay? I think the reaction people have to this process-less solution puts the lie to their pretense that their opposition was rooted in process.

    However, I was not commenting on the arguments in the hearing, I was commenting specifically on the racism on this site and Kevin's comment was particularly egregious. You see, I expected better since you all pretend to be liberal I guess you're all more of the "love me I am a liberal" kind of liberals.

    I keep coming to Blue Oregon hoping to see something here that really makes you "blue" but keep being disappointed. Gary Delgado once wrote that Portland is the most racist city in America - a statement I thought was ridiculous. But Blue Oregon continues to prove him right.

  • Bob R. (unverified)
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    This seems to be the day for accusing people of positions they haven't explicitly taken.

    Kija - Where, in any of Kevin's posts here, did he deny the notion of "white privilege"? Was it when he declared that MLK was one of his "personal heroes"?

    The fact that Kevin did not explicitly lead off every comment with "I acknowledge and attempt to compensate for white privilege" does not make him a racist.

    Oh, and as for me, I acknowledge at attempt to compensate for white privilege. If I haven't phrased that to your precise liking, please tell me exactly what to write to avoid being labelled a racist. Thanks.

    • Bob R.
  • (Show?)

    Kija,

    You know nothing of my ethnicity nor is my ethnicity even remotely relevant to what I've suggested. Which is that LOCAL people of color ought to be honored before non-local people of color are.

    At best... AT BEST you could read into that a certain geographical prejudice, and you'd be spot on the money if you did. But to claim that it's somehow race-based says a great deal more about you and your prejudices than anything else.

  • kija (unverified)
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    Kevin, Am I the only one who notices that all your praise for MLK and others comes after I noted how offensive your post was?

  • (Show?)

    What about brown skinned racist people? Rob Herndon grew up in a racist society and could hold bigoted opinions of white people in general that are broad based. Does Ron judge people by the content of their character? Does any of the people pulling the race card judge people by the content of their character?

    There was this black guy some time ago that talked about this dream he had where people were judged on the content of their character and not the color of their skin. I know most of the people on the city council and I do not see where they have expressed any racism in their politics or in how they have lead their private lives. I might be wrong as I am a black male that was educated in the Portland Public School system so what I think is racist might not be what intellectually limited, attention starved, race bating civil rights leader wanna bees my feel is racist. If so then please do not disturb my ignorance.

    Fred

  • sean cruz (unverified)
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    I am going to try to seize a teachable moment amid the mind-numbing conversation:

    1. The terms "Latino" and "Hispanic" do not necessarily describe the same people.

    2. There is no single Latino "community."

    3. There is no single Hispanic "community."

    4. Cesar Chavez's ethnicity was neither "Hispanic" nor "Latino."

    5. His ethnicity was "Mexican American" and "Chicano."

    6. "Latinos" and "Hispanics" are not necessarily either "Mexican Americans" or "Chicanos."

    7. The Latino "community" involved in the Interstate controversy does not reflect either Mexican American nor Chicano points of view.

    8. The self-appointed "Latino leaders" are exactly that.

    9. The Portland State Department of Chicano and Latino Studies recognizes the difference between the two cultures. Here's the link:

    http://www.chla.pdx.edu/program.htm

    1. Like Cesar Chavez, I am a Mexican American and a Chicano.
  • Bob R. (unverified)
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    Kija - you say that Kevin had no praise for MLK or others until after you noted how "offensive" his comment was.

    Well, I scrolled up to find Kevin's very first comment in this thread (sorry if I missed an earlier one), and it says:

    I agree. Not to take anything away from Chavez but wouldn't it make more sense as well as be more inline with Portland's street naming history to look to LOCAL heros?
    I'm at work and don't have access to double-check the name but my copy of Portland magazine mentioned a local black women who had fought hard for civil rights in Portland. I'd never heard of her. Why not name a street after her or some other LOCAL person? And then after those individuals names have been exhausted THEN look to heros from outside of Oregon?

    I'm struggling very hard to find "offensive" material here, and struggling even harder to find racism. And quite plainly, Kevin is already including praise for others in here, if not by exact name name but by reference.

    • Bob R.
  • Bob R. (unverified)
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    Sean - Thanks for the teachable moment.

  • Mike (unverified)
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    Bob R.

    There is nothing you can write to prove you are not a racist. As soon as you make an intelligent argument that goes against the raced-pandering political agenda of many people, you are a racist. Besides, they don't like intelligent arguments.

    Go ahead and call me a racist. I have spent enough time debating people here at BlueOregon to become immune to the word

  • (Show?)

    Let’s look at the real issue here. We have some people of limited intellect that presented this issue of renaming a street to the city council. How do I know their intellect is limited? I am making that assumption as it is the lesser evil and the only explanation I will accept as to why anyone would ignore the multitude of issues facing the people of Portland today.

    We are in a credit crunch so as housing sales drop and rents go up we will see an increase in homelessness and families that are choosing to pay rent and not eat for several days per month. Naming a street after a dead man that if he was a live today would be more concerned with the health of the average working man and woman and their families is not only shameful, but a dishonor the investment Chavez made in humanity. Make no mistake. Brown skinned and progressive minded people of Portland have other pressing issues to address that are more important than the name of a street.

    These men and women that are on the crusade to rename Interstate Avenue are doing so as they walk by homeless and hungry residents of North Portland. If you want to pull the race card and label someone bigoted. I say lets point it at them. All of the brown skin people leading the charge on this issue have their houses, have food in their kitchens and are not worried about the storm heading our way. They are not worried about the cold outside. What they are worried about is something much less important to the average citizen of Portland.

    Fred

  • Bob R. (unverified)
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    I'm probably not making any friends today by going contrarian on just about every angle posted here, but I disagree that promoting a street name change is somehow a disservice or detrimental in an era of other higher priorities.

    We are a big enough city, with a diverse enough array of people, that we can address more than one topic at a time, of hugely significant or minorly significant importance.

    This does not excuse the way the current situation unfolded, but in general there is nothing wrong with promoting "feel good" initiatives at the same time as we try to address substantive, daily life issues.

    Unfortunately for everyone, there isn't much left to "feel good" about after all that has happened regarding the renaming.

    • Bob R.
  • Kija (unverified)
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    bob, I was not going to respond to any more of these posts because it has become the usual whites assuring whites how not-Racist they are while making counter charges of racism. It's a pattern that repeats anytime someone calls privilege.

    However, you honestly seem to asking what's offensive. First, Kevin's was not the only offensive post, just the one that really struck a match with the privileged assumption that blacks and Latinos, or in this particular case, one Black woman and one Chicano man, are interchangeable. If his rationale were geographical, then why not suggest Cipriano Ferrell? He would have been an appropriate substitute for Chavez, not some anonymous black woman whose name he could not be bothered to remember.

    Additionally, given the role of the NAACP in opposing Martin Luther King on several fronts in order to win white approval, the suggestion that an NAACP chapter founder would be a better choice than MLK runs into another discussion altogether. Disregard for the history of the civil rights movement and the farmworker movement is part and parcel of this suggestion he put forth.

    That insouciant disregard for history or ethnicity or name - that bespeaks white privilege.

    As to the real values of Blue Oregon, the reason I posted in the first place was because of the relentlessly hostile to Latino postings I read here in this thread and others. It's disappointing that in what should be a progressive refuge from the hate-mongering and race-baiting of Red Oregon, Blue Oregon sinks in the same mire, only using more polite words.

  • Mike (unverified)
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    Kija

    And yet you are the one using the hate-mongering and race-baiting. I guess you consider yourself morally superior to everyone else.

    Goodbye....and good riddance.

  • Bob R. (unverified)
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    "First, Kevin's was not the only offensive post, just the one that really struck a match with the privileged assumption that blacks and Latinos, or in this particular case, one Black woman and one Chicano man, are interchangeable."

    Kevin stated no such assumption, although a very casual reading of his first post might give that impression. However, Kevin specifically disavowed such a notion in his subsequent comments, which you seem to have ignored.

    As for whether or not he "could bother to" remember the name of a local hero he read in an article, that's a real stretch to prove "white privilege" or especially racism. Personally, I'm terrible with names ... In business I have to concentrate extra hard and repeat the name to myself numerous times, and I still forget it unless I maintain an active relationship with the person. There's a name for this problem, but I forget it at the moment. :-)

    Still, criticising a guy for remembering an article about a civil rights activist but not remembering the activist's name is a pretty weak argument.

    Now I see you're using the word "insouciant" -- that is clearly inappropriate because Kevin has not displayed a "undisturbed, carefree, or blithe unconcern" as the various definitions have it. He is in fact actively engaged and offering up constructive alternatives.

    Perhaps you should consider that the negative reactions you are receiving, at least in what should be friendly quarters, are in part due to an insistence on your part to escalate the adjectives in the discussion beyond what is actually happening.

    • Bob R.
  • sebad (unverified)
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    I also do not think renaming a numbered street is the best idea. Especially one as popular and big as 4th Ave, nor one that runs into China Town! How about Powell Blvd, or Division, or Killingsworth? Even Couch St would work because it fits in with the Alphabet. Those street names are kind of ugly. Or better yet, why not name a city building or city park after the guy? Why does it have to be a street? I don't see how renaming a street is "honoring" anybody. It is just confusing and annoying. Renaming Portland Blvd was bad enough. How many more streets are they going to try to rename? Also, how much time and money is this taking? Renaming a street and having to change all the maps and street signs and such does not seem like it is worth all the effort and money.

  • Kija (unverified)
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    Insouciant was deliberate as offering up an NAACP activist as preferable to MLK is blithely unconcerned about the active role the NAACP played in opposing MLK. And looking at his subsequent comments, I see some ass-covering and more offensiveness such as his "a local Latino leader, NO MATTER HOW OBSCURE"

    It's as though he can't help but telegraph his particular bias against Latinos.

    And Mike, I didn't say I was never posting again, just that I am tired of this thread because it is an almost perfect example of white reaction to someone pointing out racism. Rather than even consider the possibility, you all jump on the bandwagon insisting that he can't be racist, not listening at all when I suggest that he is racist, as am I, as are we all, and we will be trapped in racism unless we start listening instead of flapping around in denial.

  • (Show?)

    Kija,

    You really need to get a grip. You are spewing assumptions about everyone here without any knowledge of them or what they have done.

    Here is me. I worked for the UFW in Watsonville, CA organizing Strawberry pickers. I went to univeristy in Mexico. I am bi-lingual. I also happen to be a resident of North Portland since 1998 and have lived withing walking distance of Interstate since then.

    I know Cesar Chavez. He's a hero of mine. I have walked his talk - have you?

    Guess what? I opposed this name change.

    So dont you dare throw racism charges at me.

    Where do you live? Do you live near Interstate cause you statments about the area are patently false. If there is a Latino community on or near Intersate you could fool me. Its a blended neighborhood, working class. If any ethnic group could claim a historic claim to this avenue it is the Polish community. Do you have a problem with Lech Walsea way?

    It is people like you that have turned this into the polarizing fight it never should have been.

  • Bob R. (unverified)
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    Kira -

    It's as if you can't help but receive a telegraph that was never sent. Seriously.

    Also, you did not merely "suggest" that he might be a racist, you flat out called him one, thereby shutting down any meaningful debate.

    You take his "no matter how obscure" to be dismissive of Latinos, whereas I took it (and he clearly explained it) to mean he has a bias in favor of naming streets after local people.

    Now, you might want to test him on that ... ask him if he would prefer renaming some streets named after national leaders who were white, starting with "Washington", after local people ... that might be an interesting way to clarify where he's coming from.

    But instead of trying to have a dialogue and find out exactly what Kevin's position was, you went straight for the racism declaration, way beyond a mere "suggestion".

    This is not a thought experiment, these are actual people, who impart actual meaning to terms, and "racism" is a big strong word and not to be bandied about lightly.

    • Bob R.
  • Bob R. (unverified)
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    Kija - I see that I typo'd your name in my previous comment. It was unintentional (and evidence of my problem with remembering names). Sorry for the mistake.

  • (Show?)

    kija is the perfect example of an ignorant nutter hurling the "racist" card at anyone not committing sepuku over being a white person in "racist" America. So every white person born and raised in America is a racist?

    What unadulterated bullshit. I am sure that Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner would be rather shocked to learn their racists because they are white people born and raised in America. Of course they will never learn of this because they were murdered in Philadelphia, Mississippi, by the Ku Klux Klan in response to the civil-rights work he coordinated, which included promoting registration to vote among Mississippi African Americans.

    kija , you are an embarassment to liberalism and progeressivism with your knee-jerk, non-think, hyperbolic bullshit.

    Dumbfuck.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Fred Stewart | Nov 16, 2007 5:10:07 PM

    Hear, hear.

    It is simiiliar to how I am supposed to get ginned up by PETA for pushing out a fur coat business in downtown Portland while we have homeless people eating garbage, and yet these PETA clowns walk past such people in order to protest fur coats... but that is being "liberal" and "progressive".

    I am all for ethic treatment of non-human living creatures, just as I am for honor great and courageous leaders and individuals who have made a real difference in civil rights and worker's rights, etc. but this "controversy" is like picking out the wall paper while the house burns.

  • ws (unverified)
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    If Kija is remotely representative of the kind of mentality behind the Interstate renaming committee, no wonder the effort was such a failure. What an amazing disconnect this effort has shown to the sensitivity of people concerning such a dramatic change to their neighborhood.

    Regrettably, the effort was overwhelmed and undermined by a particular faction somewhat common to activist efforts; that adrenaline craving faction that thrives on throwing the force of a huge chip on their shoulder against anyone offering the slightest resistance to the intentions of that faction. It's kind of like, 'any that don't see it our way are racists, so join up with our anti-racist encounter group, or else'. Hey...go have a soda and fuhgettaboutit.

  • Recall NOW (unverified)
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    If the council cannot follow process this is a reason for a RECALL !

  • (Show?)

    Kija, would you mind restating your point, and while you're at it, explain why "BlueOregon" is racist. I'm interested to hear how you got there.

  • (Show?)

    I think the biggest problem here is the city council did not follow set guidelines in how they went about this. It was a last minute thing with no one getting a say on it before the council took its first vote. That's just wrong.

    As to renaming 82nd, I'm not sure that should be done since just two years ago "Avenue of Roses" was added to its name. A great deal of money has been spent on new signs and other materials along 82nd to reflect this.

    I do understand why people are upset about 4th being changed. Driving on the west side of town can be confusing for those of us who don't go there very often. One thing you can rely on most of the time is how the streets are named (numbered streets vs. named streets). Every time a street is changed to be outside that pattern, things get confusing. So I do understand why people would prefer a named street to be looked at for the changes as opposed to a numbered street.

  • nsr (unverified)
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    Posted by: ws | Nov 16, 2007 7:00:32 PM: "If Kija is remotely representative of the kind of mentality behind the Interstate renaming committee, no wonder the effort was such a failure."

    You got that right. What a bizzarre attempt to graft the right-wing's style of wedge-issue politics onto progressivism. I'd put Marie Lisa Johnson up there with Bill Sizemore and that anti-tax kook Professor Stupid. The fact that she's still trying to demogogue the City Council's pathetic deal into a betrayal shows how she holds herself immune from any responsibility for this mess.

  • (Show?)

    Jeff, I think it's difficult for many folks outside of the latino community to understand just how attacked many people are feeling right now.

    People have said that this blow back against the name change is about the city council's process, and that the blow back against latinos is only about illegal immigration. Maybe for some folks that's true, but as we are seeing in the other thread, there is definitely a racist overlay for many of the people who are pushing the hardest on both the street naming issue and on immigration.

    Is it really any surprise that some people in the latino community are starting to shove back?

    As for whether or not Blue Oregon is racist... I don't believe that it is. Clearly. But out of curiousity, how many latinos have you ever had as regular contributors? I can't think of any.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Mike | Nov 16, 2007 5:42:34 PM Kija And yet you are the one using the hate-mongering and race-baiting. I guess you consider yourself morally superior to everyone else. Goodbye....and good riddance.

    I think Mike's approach is the most constructive given the intrasigence demonstrated by Kija.

    If I honestly thought it would be constructive I would ask my my teenage daughter, who is of pre-hispanic/native american/jewish/german ancestory, to offer her opinion of whether her father who has raised her by himself since she was an infant has a "particular bias against Latinos." But that would only lend legitimacy to Kija's "knee-jerk, non-think, hyperbolic bullshit," as lestatdelc so eloquently and accurately put it.

  • (Show?)

    Jeff, I think you asked an honest question that deserves a response. As I can also see why Kija might not care to come around here and give explaining it yet another try to such a hostile audience, let me take a whack at it.

    Here is some of the expression of white privilege/racism I see in this discussion on BlueOregon:

    1. The hostility that Kija has already pointed out and that I mentioned above. What do you get when you ask that BlueOregonians consider that some of their responses might be rooted in the racist assumptions of our society? You get: compared to Bill Sizemore; called a “nutter” and a “dumbfuck”; accused of “hate mongering” and “race baiting”. Go back through the posts in this thread and look at the emotional content of what Kija posted and the emotional content of the responses. Kija attempted to make an honest, if difficult, issue-focused point and got a good old fashioned shit-kicking for it.

    2. The assumption that if something isn’t important to me as a white person that makes it not important. Read all the arguments about why this issue is insignificant. Now go back and read some southern white arguments for why black people should not worry about unimportant things like what drinking fountain they drink out of or where they get to ride on the bus. (I find it particularly ironic that Fred joined in making this argument, but I do agree with him that racism is not limited to white people.)

    3. The apparent operating principle that being accused of making racist arguments or even being called a racist is really much worse than what people of color have to put up with in our society. A lot of energy has been expended here on attacking Kija and denigrating the Chavez committee. Where’s the serious acknowledgment of what the Chavez committee and others went through in this process? At the city-sponsored community meetings someone got called a “spic” and was told “you Mexicans just want to come up here and take over”. That happened to one of the professional facilitators the city provided, not a member of the Chavez committee. A committee member had to tell her children not to listen to their answering machine due to the vulgarities being left there. If the denizens of BlueOregon spent a tenth of the time and energy we spend on denying that we are racist on acknowledging those realities and how difficult that is for people we’d be perceived as a lot less racist ourselves.

    4. Blaming the victim. The nastiness that resulted was not brought to this process by the committee. The idea that it’s their fault because they should have anticipated the negative reaction is also straight out of the southern white playbook of the 60’s civil rights era, see “white backlash”.

    To those of you genuinely interested in how some of this might look from someone else’s perspective I recommend Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter From Birmingham Jail. I had not read that powerful missive since my college days but was reminded of it recently by Ron Herndon, a wonderful guy who happens to be a neighbor of mine a few blocks from Interstate Avenue.

    You might want to pay particular attention to what Dr. King has to say about his disappointment with “white moderates”.

  • (Show?)
    Is it really any surprise that some people in the latino community are starting to shove back?

    Sal, this is only my own decidedly non-scientific observation... but the strongest condemnation of and backlash against illegal latino immigrants that I personally have witnessed over the years has come from latinos born and raised (as were their parents) here in the United States. I base this on the reactions and statements of my old buddy Freddy Zamora from way back in my college days in Washington and from the extended Garcia wing of my ex-in-laws in both Washington and here in Oregon. The reactions of my ex-in-laws was most interesting to me because many of them work in law enforcement in Washington and Oregon and that was the context in which I observed their reactions to illegals.

    Although in fairness I should also point out that I observed fractions within the extended Garcia family, all of whom are fluently bi-lingual. Some refused to use English when speaking to family members and others refused to use Spanish when replying to those family members. Those of us who were not latino and had married into the family steadfastly avoided taking any sides, which seemed to be appreciated by both factions.

    I guess what I'm saying is that the issue is, IMO, vastly more complex than just non-latino versus latino prejudices.

  • (Show?)

    Sorry, a correction to my previous post:

    It was Maria Lisa Johnson--who might just be the sweetest human being I have ever met--who got compared to Bill Sizemore, not Kija.

    While I'm at it, I probably should correct the oversight I made when I did not point out the posts explicitly telling Kija that because they do not like her opinions, she is not welcome here.

  • Karin (unverified)
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    Kija, If you ever read this post again, I want to thank you. I agree with everything you said, but I could never have said it so well.

    And to the rest of you who attacked her position so vociferously without considering she may be making a point that we should each consider as we look inward and strive to be the best people we can be, shame on you.

    My heart hurts. Peace be with you, Kija.

  • (Show?)

    I propose a new blanket rule to be adopted by the towering intellects that grace the pages of Blue Oregon.

    "Calling everyone who opposes my POV a racist (or arguing that they are peodphiles) does not constitute valid argumentation, and I resolve to take the trouble to come up with actual counterarguments based on the facts of the case and sound reasoning".

    Get a damned clue.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    The problem, kija, is that you don't know Kevin is a racist

    Oh, I don't think that is true. You can't see into someone's heart, but you can judge people by what they say and do.

    The problem with the arguments about "process" is that its not clear the process for changing street names has ever been used. That it an issue now, but wasn't for for Front to Naito or Portland to Rosa Parks. That looks to some folks in Latino community, especially its real and self-proclaimed leaders, like they are being treated differently because they lack the same political clout that got those changes made. So this has become, in part, a power struggle about race and politics.

    As for the argument that Cesar Chavez and MLK are not local figures, that doesn't seem to concern anyone about Washington or Jefferson or Jackson or ... Its not an accident that Chavez heroism and historic importance to both Portland and the country is more likely to be recognized by people with brown skin who speak spanish and whose lives he helped transform, than by those with white skin. That is what racism does.

  • (Show?)
    What do you get when you ask that BlueOregonians consider that some of their responses might be rooted in the racist assumptions of our society?

    Okay, Doretta... please explain to me how suggesting that local heros of color ought to get preference over non-local heros of color might be rooted in the racist assumptions of our society? Keeping in mind that I explicitly stated, (and reiterated) that I wasn't suggesting that a black hero should be substituted for a latino hero, a fact which Kija glibly ignored in pursuit of his/her quest to demonize me by continuing to misrepresent what I'd suggested.

  • (Show?)

    Pat, if you are interested in clues, try this exercise left for the reader:

    What is the difference between pointing out what looks like racism to you, complete with arguments explaining why it looks that way, and merely calling everyone who opposes your point of view a racist?

    Bonus question: in a society obviously still struggling with issues of race, what is the effect if you make discussing the racism you believe you see socially unacceptable?

  • (Show?)
    As for the argument that Cesar Chavez and MLK are not local figures, that doesn't seem to concern anyone about Washington or Jefferson or Jackson or ...

    Ross, how many streets in Portland were re-named after Washington or Jefferson or Jackson or...? We're talking about CURRENT name changes, not the merits or lack thereof of why streets were originally given the names that they were give.

  • Byron (unverified)
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    Many good and not so good arguments on both sides of this difficult and contentious issue. I just wanted to weigh in here (foolish me) with some thoughts about the term "race." First, it is a socially constructed term and doesn't reflect the reality of ethnic diversity in the least. There are some modest differences between people and alot of variation, but modern anthropology and the results of research in genetics have clearly demonstrated that there is nothing that corresponds to the term "race" - merely minor differences in skin color, etc. For that reason, when folks call others "racist," for better or worse reasons, I would much prefer they use the term "ethnocentric" instead. Is there "ethnocentrism" among many in Portland - yes. But can we somehow get over the inappropriate use of the term "race", which is meaningless in scientific terms? I sure hope so! Thanks for listening.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    We're talking about CURRENT name changes

    So what?

  • (Show?)

    Sean,

    Thank you for the primer on ethnic terminology.

    Do these same principles apply to the other ethnic groupings - i.e., white privilege?

    For example... is there no meaningful difference, in terms of this issue, between an individual of Jewish ancestory and an individual of Irish ancestory? Both may have skin that is more or less the same color, just as a "Chicano" and a "Latino" may both have skin that is more or less the same color.

    Are the public statements, vis-a-vis renaming a street after Cesar Chavez, of an Oregonian of Irish ancestory equally applicable to an Oregonian of Jewish ancestory, or vice versa, by virtue of skin color?

    I ask because I am, strictly speaking, a Jew and don't have any Irish ancestory. Although that distinction would very likely be utterly lost on you if you'd only happened to see me in person.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
    (Show?)

    First, it (race) is a socially constructed term

    Yes, it is. And for that reason it has little, if anything, to do with "ethnocentrism". My wife ancestry is Swedish and mine is Norwegian, we have "ethnic" differences. Race (and racism) is an entirely different thing.

  • (Show?)
    So what?

    Um... okay.

    In that case I vote that we vilify whomever was responsible for naming NW 23rd that particular name on the thin (and possibly racist) rationale that it's located between NW 22nd and NW 24th. Surely they should have anticipated that a truly superb Latino owned and operated restaurant like Sana Fe Taqueria would someday be located there and have named it appropriately.

  • (Show?)

    What is the difference between pointing out what looks like racism to you, complete with arguments explaining why it looks that way, and merely calling everyone who opposes your point of view a racist?

    It's dead simple for me Doretta. In the first part of the question you are engaging in debate, which is what Blue Oregon is all about. In the second part, you are just engaging in ad hominem attacks to avoid the necessitiy of addressing any and all points that they might raise.

    Bonus question: in a society obviously still struggling with issues of race, what is the effect if you make discussing the racism you believe you see socially unacceptable?

    I'm not advocating that at all. I'm saying that if you want to call someone a racist in this forum, you need to point out why you assume racism, and be prepared to defend you POV in an honest conversation.

    <hr/>

    As Byron points out, "race" is an artifical construct designed to deflect attention from the fact that poor policy decisions got us into this mess and are keeping us in this mess. since every human on the planet is now thought to be descended from west africans who migrated out to the rest of the world 200,000 years ago.

    Fear and division are old tactics used by knowledgeable people (on both sides of this particular debate) to drive the less knowledgeable to do their bidding. It is a very powerful tool as it bypasses the rational mind to play one the previously evolutionarily useful fear of the stranger or other.

  • (Show?)

    Sal Peralta,

    I hope the Latino community is feeling attacked. I hope they take the time to find out why they feel attacked and through this experience begin to demand more from their leaders.

    The Black community has been to easy on the self appointed leaders that have been thrust in front of them. Looks like the Latino and Hispanic Community is going to make the same mistake.

    Should the reflection of the Latino and Hispanic community be seen in the Portland landscape....Yes. When we do it and how we do it should be a community wide discussion and effort. With out that, the Latino and Hispanic community is just simulating the oppressive ways they say they are against.

    The people that believe in Chaves, King and other civil rights leaders of history. Then they should work toward following their example and not that of the oppressors those men fought against.

    Fred

  • Suzii (unverified)
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    Dear God.

    How pleasant would it be to be able to blithely believe that race, as an artificial construct, is irrelevant to real life?

    Race is an artificial construct just like, say, marriage, and every bit as relevant to life.

    All I can say is that, as a person of color reading this thread, I would feel significantly less safe attending a Progressive Happy Hour with you folks than I did when two men accosted me last week (at the north end of Interstate), declared that they were proud to be racists and informed me that there was no room for black people like me (yeah, they used the N-word) "around here."

    I am not a coward; I look with puzzlement at people who think it's unsafe to ride TriMet late at night. But I would not feel safe in a room with the writers of most of these posts. Are you as proud of yourselves as were the racists I met on, ahem, Interstate Avenue?

  • ws (unverified)
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    Of course, Latinos/ Hispanics/Mexicans are faced by a certain opposition today. Bush and buddies posing against so-called illegal aliens is all that is and not much more. Many, many Hispanics are well received and working throughout the tri-county area, have decent jobs, places to live and vehicles to drive. Of course the situation of some hispanics could be better, but they're still shopping in the same stores I do, sitting wherever they want on the bus and drinking out of the same water fountains as everyone else.

    There is a lot of support for hispanics. They are well received despite the bush-ites. Why do people like Maria Lisa Johnson and Kija not draw from that support but rather, focus on isolated examples of racism to chastise an entire community and even the city as a whole?

    So please don't try and sell some notion that facing opposition over their determination to have the portland street of their choosing named after a notable person of their ethnic origin is an experience similar to that of black people down in the old south. It's just not.

    Doretta (comment Nov 17, 2007 9:01:39 AM)helps to inform by offering some of the nastier gems arising from one of the community meetings. But really, so what do those incidents imply? Are those few crackers truly representative of the larger identity of the Interstate community?

    Where is the swelling support from the Hispanic community within the Interstate neighborhood itself (if in fact there really is one, and that seems doubtful) for this name change? From what area did they get those signatures? So far, the evidence adds up to the fact that the Interstate to Chavez naming committee did not do their leg-work. They did not successfully go into the Interstate community itself to build up a base of support that would have made the name change a slam-dunk. Maybe they shouldn't be faulted for being suckered by the illusion of Potter's quick and easy formula for street name changes, but they should stop right now, this hokey game of racial blackmail.

  • (Show?)

    Another nice universal and nonspecific attack Suzii.

    Which posters specifically make you feel unsafe?

    Why, specifically do "they" scare you as much as the proud racists on North Interstate?

    <hr/>

    I have personally and physically stood beside gays, asians, women, blacks, and latinos against all "isms". I have personally confronted individuals who advocated violence or even told offensive "jokes" in very public settings in the workplace and anywhere else.

    I have zero tolerance for smack talking from anyone, whether they style themselves as the "oppressed whites" being victimized by those brown people, or (as is the case in this thread), people who play the "race" card to avoid confronting the issues.

    Are you afraid of me too?

  • (Show?)

    OK, Kevin, I’ll give that a shot.

    You said: Seriously... I honestly don't get why either side of this most recent dust-up is arguing over Chavez while Cannady's memory continues to languish in near obscurity.

    A group of people who identify themselves as Latino want to have a Portland street named after another person they identify as Latino. They chose a person who has a significant history as a leader in an American civil rights struggle whom they admire. They see this as a way of providing inspiration for other Latinos, particularly young people. In light of that context, doesn’t your remark quoted above about why you can’t understand why anyone is arguing over Chavez while an African American Portlander languishes in near obscurity sound kind of white-boy clueless? (And no, I’m not saying only white boys can be clueless. I am brought up short on a regular basis by the perspective of my Japanese/Irish American spouse. It's seldom fun but I do consider it a privilege.)

    Yes, you did a lot of scrambling to explain later that what you said above isn’t really what you meant, and to some degree I believe you. But I also think that Kija has a point.

    On its face, that comment does seem to lump all people of color together. You are also arguing that you have a better idea about who should be honored. What is it that makes you think that your idea is better to the degree that you can’t see any significant validity in someone else’s different idea?

    You also said: You know nothing of my ethnicity nor is my ethnicity even remotely relevant to what I've suggested. Which is that LOCAL people of color ought to be honored before non-local people of color are.

    You claim your ethnicity isn’t even “remotely relevant” to what you’ve suggested? What factors do you suppose are relevant to the fact that you want to name streets after a different set of people than the Chavez committee? You mention "geography". You don’t think that your ethnicity could possibly have anything to do with “geography” being the dominant factor for you whereas something else might be more important for someone else? Someone else whose experiences have been different from yours? Maybe even different in large measure based on their ethnicity being different from yours?

    Finally, Kevin, Kija said you share a racist conditioning that everyone in our society shares and she/he thinks it comes out in your comments. In response, you accuse Kija of “demonizing” you and you join the chorus calling on her/him to shut up and go away. It’s my observation that one of things that flows very naturally from a position of privilege is the kind of "scorched earth" response we've seen here and elsewhere in response to what is really quite a minor challenge to that privilege.

  • 2L2L (unverified)
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    I am not a BlueOregon regular and damn, this thread is exactly why! I am sorry but this Kija person is frankly just a damaged person. Unlike her rantings & ravings about "white privelege" and racism, I am basing my opinion strictly on what she wrote, not assumptions. What a bitter, foul, empty life she/he must live to be so angry and to perceive her life as such a victimhood. Pathetic. And the other dude who wrote about "Bob's boys" and all that: Nice. Calling someone a pedo really moves the debate along. Oh yes, and all the faux-intellectual "race is a construct" jibberish! Sheesh. Seriously, honestly, I have a question: When you guys (kija, Doretta, et alia) read your own blitherings are you proud? Do you think you read smart? Do you fell "superior?" What? What is it? Because us folks out here in reality are just stunned...

  • Suzii (unverified)
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    The thing about fear, Pat Ryan, is that it's not a precision tool. Humans didn't evolve for it to be. So, yep, I'm afraid of you.

    What you might not know is that my personal experience of this catastrophe has included hour after hour (after hour) of people telling me (shouting at me, blustering at me, blithering at me, whining at me) that they're not racist, honest they're not. And I never once asked them if they were -- I certainly never suggested that I thought they were -- most of these people I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW.

    Which suggests to me that the good white people of Portland are protesting one heck of a lot too much.

    More specifically, you personally (yes, you, the one who claims to have "personally and physically" stood up to protect people like me) suggested that it's relevant to this discussion to address the phenomenon of people "calling everyone who opposes my POV a racist." I won't deny the phenomenon exists, but it hasn't happened here.

    A lot of the weepy white people who seem to be begging me for absolution have claimed that they heard it. So far, nobody has managed to tell me just who called them racist, or give a convincing description of what was said.

    At least one weepy white person WHOM I DID NOT KNOW FROM ADAM tried to convince me that I had called her racist in a public forum.

    My personal guess is that some anti-change rabble-rouser sent out a flier claiming that the Chavez committee members were accusing all their opponents of being racist, and that a lot of people swallowed it.

    And when you regurgitated it for this thread, you didn't do it calmly -- you were pleading with the BO gods to save you from the horror, the horror of being called racist.

    The way that post of yours registers in my gut -- the one that's been kicked by a lot of years of overt and subtle racism, sexism, homophobia and religious discrimination -- is as a statement that you've got something to feel defensive about. I don't have to know what that might be to take it as a warning sign. Defensive people lash out. They just do.

    I'm sure many people find you a fine human being. Because I've been reading your posts for years, I can say that I would likely enjoy your company. But after your statements on this thread (including your willingness to swallow the soundbite that white people are the victims here because they're feeling guilty), I wouldn't count on you to have my back when a fight turned nasty.

    Specific enough?

    Oh, and I didn't say the posters here scare me as much as the proud racists of Interstate. I said you good folks scare me more. I'd rather have my face spat at, any day, than have my back stabbed.

  • Miles (unverified)
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    Finally, Kevin, Kija said you share a racist conditioning that everyone in our society shares and she/he thinks it comes out in your comments.

    There are two problems with that argument, Doretta.

    First, the idea that racism is everywhere, in everyone, unavoidable, and a large percentage of the dark matter in the universe has the unintended consequences of minimizing -- and in fact legitimizing -- racism. If we're all racists, then what do we call the assholes who harrassed Suzii? Uber-racists? It's meaningless (and absurd) to lump those of us who oppose the Interstate renaming in with those guys. If we're all racists, then you just made what they did seem okay, because hey, how could they escape their white privilege?

    Second, the argument that we're all racists has the effect of stopping any meaningful debate. Some have argued that's exactly why the renaming committee made the charge, because they didn't want to have the debate, they just wanted to win. I don't agree with that, but it does make me wonder: Are whites required to agree with the recommendations of any committee that is made up predominantly of people of color? In your mind, is there any way for us to disagree without being racist (or without using our "white privilege" to our advantage)? If not, then you've basically constructed a world where whites and non-whites cannot have meaningful debates -- and that's a sad world, one that I don't want a part in.

    I said this on the other thread, but I think it bears repeating. There are racists who opposed the Interstate name change, they were the cowards in the back of the room who shouted racial insults and worried about hispanics "taking over" their part of Portland. The existence of these bigots shouldn't surprise anyone. But the renaming committee and the Mayor made the leap that ALL those who oppose the name change were racists (or, at the every least, had race "issues" somewhere deep down that were being vocalized through their opposition). That is unfair, it is a judgement based on the color of the opponents' skin rather than the content of their character, and it's exactly the kind of behavior we should be trying to rid our society of.

    One lesson to take from this debacle is that we should always seek to understand people and their motives on an individual level rather than as part of a pre-defined group. Another lesson to take is that it's impossible to do that over the internet, and it's impossible to do that if you're unwilling to engage in face-to-face dialogue. Would any of this have happened if the renaming committee had simply met with the neighborhood residents and businesses BEFORE getting City Hall political support? Not to the same extent, and it's for that reason that I blame the renaming committee and the Mayor for a failure of PROCESS. And I reject any assertion on your part that my opposition is, deep down, based on race.

    It's not.

  • susan (unverified)
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    I finally figured out today why the latino leaders are so adamant that those against the Interstate rename are racist. The Oregonian quotes one of the leaders as saying the neighborhood was against the name change because people would think it was a low class, mexican neighborhood. My husband and many of his friends grew up in the Interstate neighborhood, and have been involved in working to stop the name change. I can honestly say that I don't think this idea ever occurred to any of them! It isn't like we are talking about Lake Oswego or something, these guys are proud of their lower middle class roots, and feel they are entitled to keep a little heritage of their own, as lowly as it may be.

    I can't help but think that Cesar Chavez would be appalled at the latino community leaders who find themselves victimized, demeaned and disprespected because the council chose the most important street in town to name after him instead of the one they had personally picked. Cesar Chavez knew real persecution, but this group had to go to great lengths to find persecution where there is none.

  • Suzii (unverified)
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    Miles, nobody is arguing that all the people who opposed renaming are racist. Seriously. Nobody is. You just wrote hundreds of words about a straw man.

    But one can smile, and smile, and be a villain. Not everybody who says "I'm not a racist" is telling the truth.

    What we can call the people who stopped me for that chat is "honest racists." What we can call many people who opposed the renaming is "ordinary racists." What we can call all the people who opposed the renaming is "people who opposed the renaming."

    (Frankly, I'm sure there were supporters of the renaming whom we could call either honest or ordinary racists. But they haven't come to me begging to be labeled ... )

  • (Show?)
    Yes, you did a lot of scrambling to explain later that what you said above isn’t really what you meant...

    As opposed to clarifying what had at first been poorly articulated, neverminding the fact that said clarification was reiterated.

    It's nice to see that you approached it with an open mind...

    On its face, that comment does seem to lump all people of color together.

    Especially if one comes at it with the ass-u-mption that the person who wrote it doesn't see much distinction between people of color, n'est pas? I mean that would be much simpler than querying to see if perhaps that ass-u-mption might not be valid.

    Again, it's nice to see that you approached it with an open mind...

    You mention "geography". You don’t think that your ethnicity could possibly have anything to do with “geography” being the dominant factor for you whereas something else might be more important for someone else?

    Perhaps, sure. And perhaps there are some who would see ethnic bias behind the assertion that Portland is in Oregon, or that "Oregon" even exists, for that matter. If we're going to contort ourselves trying to find the most ethnically biased explanation possible, Occam's Razor be damned, then lots of things are possible. Doesn't mean we ought to make public policy based on them.

  • (Show?)

    Again Suzii, using only your direct quotes:

    I would feel significantly less safe attending a Progressive Happy Hour with you folks than I did when two men accosted me last week (at the north end of Interstate)... Which of course begs the question of exactly who you are referring to.......

    But then in your reply, after a couple of paragraphs relating to your horrific racially tinged encounters with people other than me you get down to it:

    More specifically, you personally (yes, you, the one who claims to have "personally and physically" stood up to protect people like me) suggested that it's relevant to this discussion to address the phenomenon of people "calling everyone who opposes my POV a racist." I won't deny the phenomenon exists, but it hasn't happened here.

    Sure looks like it did. See your quote above relating to "you folks". No person of good will gets away with demonizing groups of people (even if the group being demonized is "weepy white people".) Very non-specific and your following comments made it crystal clear that you included me among who knows how many others:

    A lot of the weepy white people who seem to be begging me for absolution have claimed that they heard it. So far, nobody has managed to tell me just who called them racist, or give a convincing description of what was said.

    At least one weepy white person WHOM I DID NOT KNOW FROM ADAM tried to convince me that I had called her racist in a public forum.

    I regurgitated nothing from some ephemeral flyers. I am responding to your own words. I don't need or want absolution from you. I don't see you as having the intellectual integrity to even argue honestly, much less to pass judgement on me.

    What I demand from you is some personal integrity. So far all I'm hearing about is your fear and my alleged guilt. Like Tip O'Neil famously said:

    "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts." If I attacked you and your "folks" with the same level of vitriol that you display, I have no doubt that you'd be getting a little weepy yourself, (whatever color or orientation might serve as your anchor identity).

    Me? I'm a human being. That's my group. I do, however, try to be nice to kittens and dogs as I'm not sure that they're not superior species..........

  • Suzii (unverified)
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    susan, many of the opponents, including some who are arguably far from racist, said they feared loss of property value. Do you think property value would be an issue if, for instance, people proposed renaming it "Two Rivers Way"?

    One opponent (I've been told that she's not racist) made the perfectly reasonable observation that people driving south on "the Interstate" (i.e., not "Interstate Avenue") would see three consecutive exits: MLK Blvd, Chavez Blvd., Rosa Parks Way. And that they would therefore choose not to invest in North Portland. And that, again, property values would plummet.

    You go right ahead and be proud of your husband who saw right through the arguments about property values. But one example does not prove your point.

  • (Show?)

    I hope the Latino community is feeling attacked. I hope they take the time to find out why they feel attacked and through this experience begin to demand more from their leaders.

    Fred,

    The people who were asked by the mayor's office stepped forward and took part in a good-faith effort to engage civic leaders and to follow the process as they were asked to do.

    During that process, their motives have been questioned. They have been called "illegals", "spics", and worse in public meetings.

    Regardless of how well-intentioned they may be, folks who who suggest that racism has not played a part in this discussion are sticking their heads in the sand. It may not be your personal motivation, but that does not mean that it has not played a significant role in this process.

    Could people have handled things better? Sure. But if you think that all, or even most of the blame on this particular issue, lies with a handful of community leaders who have stepped forward when asked, then you are sorely mistaken. And if you are criticizing those people, without at the very least acknowledging the very real concerns that people have, then you are part of the problem, in my view.

  • Suzii (unverified)
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    pat, dear, I didn't call you racist. I called you unsafe.

    And no, not everybody who disagrees with me is unsafe. But most of the posters on this thread? I wouldn't trust you on my team.

    And no, that's not a blanket statement. If you want me to go through the whole thread and tell you which posters I would or wouldn't trust at my back -- I won't do that. I told you which list you're on because you asked. Maybe you didn't see it as asking for absolution, but you did ask me whether I'm afraid of you, and you did preface it with two paragraphs of singing your own praises -- it was pretty clear which answer you were lobbying for me to return.

  • Suzii (unverified)
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    And seriously. Fourth Avenue is "the most important street in town"? I thought we were talking about Portland, OREGON.

  • (Show?)

    Suzii, Pat Ryan is a good man. I think he's understating the effect that racism plays in issues like this one, but he has it right to some extent. Not everyone who opposes this name change or who is concerned about illegal immigration is a racist. It is counterproductive to suggest that race is a factor when it isn't.

    What makes this discussion, and ones like it, so insidious is the numerous convenient ways that exist to hide ones true motivations. I don't believe for a second that Pat is doing that.

  • (Show?)

    Kija wrote: It's disappointing that in what should be a progressive refuge from the hate-mongering and race-baiting of Red Oregon, Blue Oregon sinks in the same mire, only using more polite words.

    Kija, I agree. You should note, however, that anybody can post a comment here. And we regularly get mentioned on-air on the Lars Larson and Victoria Taft shows. It's usually obvious when that happens (like on this post) because we overwhelmed with first-time commenters parroting right-wing talking points.

  • Suzii (unverified)
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    Sal, I know Pat's a good man. I said so. I agree that I don't detect any hidden motivations in his posts.

    And I agree that it is counterproductive to suggest that race is a factor when it isn't. Just as counterproductive as it is to suggest that race isn't a factor when it is.

  • (Show?)

    Miles, don’t confuse my position with the once-trendy-in-left-wing-circles argument that can be summarized by “only white people can be racist”. I’m not up on whether that argument is still trendy as I’ve spent most of the last decade hanging out in North Portland working with people of all descriptions (including many who have opposed the Interstate renaming) on things that I think help build community.

    I didn’t make nor do I support the arguments you attributed to me.

    Saying that no one in our society completely escapes being influenced by racism is not the same as saying “all racism is created equal”. I’m sure we can all tell the difference between a $1 bill, a $10 bill and a $100 bill and I doubt that you’d argue that the differences are insignificant because we call them all “money”.

    No, disagreeing with a person of color or the Chavez committee does not make one a racist. The Chavez committee has made it part of every presentation I’ve heard (and I’ve had occasion to hear a number of them) to be very clear that they have no problem with people disagreeing with them. It’s white defensiveness that is generating such straw men.

    How does one respond to the oft-repeated complaint that once anyone has used the words “racist” or “racism” we are all incapable of continuing the discussion? Surely that’s selling us white people way short? How does that work, anyway? You hear the word and you immediately have to go lie down with a damp cloth on your forehead? I'd suggest that rather than removing those words from our vocabulary we might do well to cowboy up and listen a little further.

  • (Show?)

    I should follow up a bit - now that I've finished reading through the thread.

    BlueOregon isn't racist. Why? Because it's a physical impossibility. BlueOregon is a bunch of files on a hard drive somewhere. If you like, it's a bunch of pixels on your screen. It doesn't have opinions. It's a website.

    Now, is it possible that some of our commenters are racist assholes? You bet. We don't control who our commenters are. As I mentioned above, we get mentioned on Victoria Taft - and the next thing you know, we're getting deluged.

    In 2005, one of our contributors had police protection for a day at the state capitol when she was attacked by Victoria Taft on-air, and the state police became concerned for her safety.

    As for Sal's question about Latino contributors, that's a valid one. I've tried, a number of times, to recruit but so far, no takers. If anyone has suggestions, we'll take 'em. (Note: I don't know the ethnicity of some of our contributors, so I can't say for certain.)

  • (Show?)

    Suzii:

    I'm clear on what I've be saying.

    I'm clear on what you've been saying.

    I'm unimpressed by your feeble attempts to patronize and belittle, and I've been attacked by your betters many times.

    I'm also clear that very rudimentary cleverness with word placement, goalpost moving, and after-the-fact explication does nothing to further discourse.

    See you on another thread.

  • (Show?)

    Geez, Pat.

    Suzii said that one of the things being in the same room with you would make her feel is unsafe. She made it pretty clear that what she mostly meant was that, based on your defensiveness here, as a person of color she does not trust you to have her back. She also indicated that she would also feel other more positive emotions based on your history here.

    You, on the other hand, said you think she lacks personal and intellectual integrity.

    Then you accused her of "vitriol."

    To quote Jon Stewart: "Whaaa?"

    I guess it's true that some people lose their ability to converse when those magic words are spoken. I have to say I still think that's their problem though and not the problem of the people who are genuinely trying to have a conversation that includes those words.

    I'd also venture that you've pretty clearly demonstrated Suzii's wisdom in not trusting you to have her back.

  • 2L2L (unverified)
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    I am going to be very blunt: I would need to see proof (police reports at the very least) before I would believe any of "suzii's" claims of her victimhood to race-related violence. Fake claims are not unheard of and her sheer and disturbing level of hatred would indicate one would do well to question any of her claims. This is how these advocates and fringe dwellers operate, by attempting to claim a moral highground that they feel will make them untouchable. It's bunk. Suzii's "experiences" are just too perfect for propelling her angry worldview...

  • 2L2L (unverified)
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    Hey Doretta..."I'd also venture that you've pretty clearly demonstrated Suzii's wisdom in not trusting you to have her back." Kinda like you had the Kenton Neighborhood's back in this entire renaming fiasco? When over 80% of residents are anti but you go ahead and try to vote "yes" for all your Chavez committee chums? Nice...

  • Suzii (unverified)
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    Yeah, right, I'm going to call the police every time some bully spits in my face or calls me nasty names.

    You do live in a soft, cushy little world, don't you?

  • (Show?)

    2L2L,

    I've never pretended to represent the entire Kenton neighborhood. When I vote I represent me. As a Kenton resident I'd appreciate it if you would show the same restraint.

    You have no idea what % of the Kenton neighborhood is against the renaming of Interstate. Lying does not endear you to me nor is it an effective way of furthering your cause in the long run. Ditto for anonymous attacks.

  • (Show?)
    She made it pretty clear that what she mostly meant was that, based on your defensiveness here, as a person of color she does not trust you to have her back.

    BS. She made it perfectly clear that she would feel SAFER in the company of two men who accosted her than she would with Pat, who has never accosted her.

    She also indicated that she would also feel other more positive emotions based on your history here.

    What kind of psycho-babble double-talk is that? How, pray tell, would she ever get to the point of feeling "more positive" anything from Pat when she's already stated a preference for the company of a couple twits who accosted her, much less what could Pat possible do or say that could be construed as positive given that preference???

    You're making excuses for the inexcusable.

  • (Show?)

    Sal Peralta,

    Do you feel the leaders are at fault at all for any of this? Do you feel pulling the race card or calling attention to the bigots help?

    Fred

  • Dave (unverified)
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    Our out-of-commissioners just wanted to erase their blunders by choosing Fourth to be Chavez thinking nobody would care, and besides, if City Hall is there, who could complain? Instead they look stupid. Now they just started a brand new fight instead of resolving the first one. The Latinos are disgusted and walked away, Old Town says why us, we're Chinatown, and downtown businesses feel picked on again. Great work from our leaders. Nobody is following this one, so take a step back and admit you made a stupid, rushed decision.

  • Miles (unverified)
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    The people who were asked by the mayor's office stepped forward and took part in a good-faith effort to engage civic leaders and to follow the process as they were asked to do.

    Sal, this is not true. The renaming committee was not "asked" by the Mayor to step forward, they met as an insular group and decided which street they wanted to rename. They then took that decision to the Mayor, who supported it and said they should hold some public hearings. (One has to wonder why public hearings are only being held after the decision has been made, but that's kind of a larger Portland problem.)

    folks who who suggest that racism has not played a part in this discussion are sticking their heads in the sand. It may not be your personal motivation, but that does not mean that it has not played a significant role in this process.

    I guess I wonder what you mean by "significant". It sounds like you are making the same accusations the committee did, and the Mayor did, that "most" or "a lot" of the opposition is racist. There were only a few people who said anything remotely racist during those public meetings, so what do you base this on?

    If you think that all, or even most of the blame on this particular issue, lies with a handful of community leaders who have stepped forward when asked, then you are sorely mistaken. And if you are criticizing those people, without at the very least acknowledging the very real concerns that people have, then you are part of the problem, in my view.

    I do blame the renaming committee, almost completely. The Mayor is also to blame, but I didn't have high expectations of him anyway. Had the renaming committee engaged in an outreach process BEFORE the decision had been made, this whole thing would have turned out differently. The opposition was truly grass roots, neighbors who are not politically involved standing up and saying "Not Interstate." I'm surprised that anyone would NOT blame the renaming committee for this mess.

  • Jack (unverified)
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    I can't stomach reading any more of this garbage---the idiocy of the anti-white, openly racist "progressive" position exhibited by the likes of kiija, Suzii, and others here (not to mention the self-appointed name change committee) is so self-evident that anyone with half a brain cell can see how morally and intellectually bankrupt it is. The virulent racism that the proponents of the Interstate name change exhibit every time they open their mouths is just as responsible for its failure as the pandering incompetents on the City Council who like to play Bush-style autocrats on our dime.

    But I do have to respond to this little gem by Byron, a common lie put forth by anti-science leftists, as clearly evidenced by those who have chimed in to agree: "modern anthropology and the results of research in genetics have clearly demonstrated that there is nothing that corresponds to the term "race" - merely minor differences in skin color, etc."

    Complete and utter bullshit, blissfully uniformed by scientific fact. Do yourself a favor and read some real science for once, not the pseudoscience of cultural anthropologists. The REAL science (biology, physical anthropology) is crystal clear on this subject. Race is real, race is biological, race is NOT a social construct. I know a lot of you leftist ideologues can't be bothered to crack open a peer-reviewed science journal, but if you're going to repeat lies, at least make sure they're not so easily falsified.

    Just goes to show that anti-scientific nonsense is not limited to the lunatic climate change deniers on the Right.

  • ws (unverified)
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    "Yeah, right, I'm going to call the police every time some bully spits in my face or calls me nasty names." Suzii

    I put the emphasis in there, because according to you Suzii, it wasn't just some bully. It was a racist. When something like that happens, if you're not even going to bother making some kind of formal report to the police or other organization about it, one has to wonder how serious you really are about combating racism. If victims of racism aren't even going to mention those kind of incidents unless their request to have a portland street named after their hero is turned down, it's going to be tough to determine what degree or scale of racism exists in a given area.

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    This is a difficult string to read and I don't have much to add because I'm a little raw from this Interstate thing and don't want to get any salt in the wound. But Sal, I do want to say that I identify as Black Latina. Two Panamanian parents and I myself born in Panama. My child will be first generation and I'm proud to be here. I don't get that credit - another unique form of classifying people the way others decide - but Kari has indeed added someone of Latin decent.

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    Fred, To answer your questions: Yes, I think it's appropriate to call attention to some of the bigoted remarks and attitudes that were displayed in some of these public meetings because those remarks provide some context for why many latinos are feeling attacked around this and other issues.

    Pointing out bigoted behaviour when it occurs is not "playing the race card". Sunlight, as they say, is the best disinfectant.

    Miles, your perception of how this process started differs from what I have been told and from the accounts in the press.

    Also, please don't attribute comments to me that I have not made. I am saying that it is not fruitful to ignore the racist overlay to some of these discussions. I am also saying that people should not be going out of their way to make attributions of racism without having a legitimate basis.

    I've seen a lot of race-baiting and pandering over the last few years. I expect to see a great deal more of it in this election cycle. I'm not going to turn a blind eye to it. I hope that other people of good conscience won't either.

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    Karol, thanks for clarifying.

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    Miles said: What kind of psycho-babble double-talk is that? How, pray tell, would she ever get to the point of feeling "more positive" anything from Pat when she's already stated a preference for the company of a couple twits who accosted her, much less what could Pat possible do or say that could be construed as positive given that preference???

    Check it again, Miles. Suzii never said anything remotely like she has a preference for the company of the twits. She's said quite clearly that based on the history of his writing over a long period on BlueOregon she thinks she'd enjoy Pat's company. She knows full well that she would not enjoy the company of the twits.

    What she said was that she would feel less safe in his company than in the company of the twits. Less safe in the sense that she knows she has to keep the twits in front of her and she believes she can handle that but that she finds people she's supposed to be able to trust but has reason to feel she can't to be more of a threat.

    She's honestly trying to share with Pat an important fact of life as she experiences it. In return, she's getting nothing but abuse.

    Is your view of human beings really so simplistic that you can't understand how a person might feel that a person can be more interesting and even a better human being but still more unsafe?

    Here's a paragraph of what Dr. King said about "white moderates" in the letter I linked to earlier in which he expresses a related sentiment:

    I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to Justice, who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of Justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

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    Sal Peralta,

    How time has the Latinos spent learning about the history and the families of North Portland? Has any of the leadership taken the time to learn about the rich history of the community? Not all of the white people in North Portland are Anglo and not all of the bigots are white either?

    Do you feel there are some Latinos involved in this effort that are every bit as racist as the white people they feel are attaching them? I feel the Latino leadership could have done better. I expect them to serve better in the future. What about you?

    Do you feel MLK or Chaves put sunlight on every instance of racism they perceived? If you have read anything of them you will know this answer.

    Fred

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    dorreta,

    Naming Interstate Ave after Chaves is not a civil rights issue. It is not an issue of fairness to black, white, Latino or mixed race people. Romanticizing this issue to the drum beat of the civil rights movement is not a positive step forward for Portland.

    In this case White moderates are going in the wrong direction again. They are supporting a behavior that Dr. King was struggling against. In this case it is the Latino's that are disrespectful and together with their guilty white moderate and black progressive friends they have been able to distract the people of Portland from the progressive development we have been on for the last 60 years.

    I am the first generation of my family to NOT witness a lynching or worry about looking at a white woman or man in the eye. For families like mine there is nothing romantic about the civil rights movement and we do not appreciate those that try to wrap their misdeeds around the memory of the struggle Dr. King lead.

    The name change of Interstate was a bad idea, poorly handled and ill consived long before the first non brown skined bigot heard of it.

    Fred

  • Miles (unverified)
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    Miles said: What kind of psycho-babble double-talk is that?

    Kevin wrote that, Doretta, not me.

    Sal writes: Miles, your perception of how this process started differs from what I have been told and from the accounts in the press.

    I'd appreciate a link to articles that describe it differently, because I've been following this closely for weeks and have not seen it described differently. Friday's Oregonian includes a timeline that starts with: "July -- A group of Latino leaders approaches Mayor Tom Potter's office for help in renaming North Interstate Avenue for the labor leader. Committee members talk to commissioners, assuring them that they have community support. As news of the proposal spreads, so does protest in North Portland."

    The Committee complained that they followed the process that the Mayor and Council set out, only to have Council pull the rug out later. But the problem is that they didn't engage in outreach at the beginning, before settling on Interstate. By the time they approached Council, it was already too late to mollify neighbors who felt blindsided. Who else should be blamed for that fundamental failure if not the renaming committee?

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    My apologies for misspeaking, Miles.

    Please consider my last remarks to be directed at Kevin, not Miles.

  • LT (unverified)
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    I haven't followed this issue very closely, not living in Portland.

    But it seems to me part of the problem was not following established procedures---if it is true there is a law or regulation against renaming streets with rich history, and the history of Interstate Ave. relates to the history of the Interstate Bridge, it should not have been designated as a potential name change, no matter whose idea it was.

    But I didn't get to be 61 years old without seeing various aspects of racism, from "we don't want their kind" to localities where black people didn't feel safe after dark, to the fact that in some parts of this country in 1984 Geraldine Ferraro had more trouble running for VP as an Italian than as a woman (are they all gangsters?) to people whose face looks a lot more like Bill Richardson than like presidents Carter, Ford, Reagan, or any member of the Bush of Clinton families being presumed guilty of something or other unless proven innocent.

    Whether it was the Irish a long time ago ("no Irish need apply") or Asians in a previous generation or Hispanics now, sometimes it seems there is a "go back to your country" mentality. A couple decades ago when there was a multi-candidate primary for state rep. in my district, the canvassers for the woman my family supported were offended by going to homes the Hispanic candidate (a lawyer born in this country) had visited and having people say "well, at least I know your candidate was born in this country".

    Similar things have happened with gender. A female friend of mine who was working as an Affirmative Action officer lived in Eugene and decided (knowing them both well) that Peter DeFazio deserved her vote in the 4th Dist. Cong. primary more than Margie Hendricksen (then a well known legislator ) did. And thus she didn't take kindly to another well known female legislator (who lived in Mult. Co. and was thus not registered in the 4th Cong. District ) saying "anyone who doesn't support Margie Hendricksen doesn't support women". HUH?? Women have no right to make up their own minds on how to vote?

    I think ego got involved in all this street renaming controversy and we saw the worst side of human nature. This is why regulations and protocol exist--to avoid such situations.

    I do agree with what Sal said. Pointing out bigoted behaviour when it occurs is not "playing the race card". Sunlight, as they say, is the best disinfectant.

    There have been incidents in the past (not just in Portland) where a leading local official "promised" a vote on something without checking with the other members of the council or board or whatever. Then when the other members get angry that their vote had been promised without asking them, there is a public explosion and the person who didn't seek support before speaking looks bad. If Potter promised it would happen without first getting council approval, that was stupid. But with the discussion getting so heated, it seems to me there were some remarks made which were not appropriate.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    Fear and division are old tactics used by knowledgeable people (on both sides of this particular debate) to drive the less knowledgeable to do their bidding.

    Phony appeals to reasonable debate have been the bedrock of racist resistance to change for a long time as well. Should we only debate the constitutional merit of "states rights" rather than the underlying desire for those states to perpetuate racial discrimination? This has been a time-honored approach of the Strom Thurmond's of the world, whether as a Dixiecrat or as a Republican.

    Did anyone notice an emotional debate over making 82nd to Avenue of the Roses? Were there complaints that it didn't follow the proper process? The reality is this debate is about race. There are plenty of good arguments on both sides of the issue, but that is not what has turned it into an emotional battle. Its about people who don't want their neighborhood identified as "Latino" and those who do.

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    Fred, you are misrepresenting the point of my quote and comments and I don't find any of this a bit romantic. Plus which, you've already explained that Cesar Chavez was not a civil rights leader--which Dr. King emphatically and explicitly contradicted. I believe I would take his authority over yours on that subject.

    Miles said (and it really was Miles this time): But the problem is that they didn't engage in outreach at the beginning, before settling on Interstate. By the time they approached Council, it was already too late to mollify neighbors who felt blindsided. Who else should be blamed for that fundamental failure if not the renaming committee?

    You mean other than the facts that:

    1. the current code calls for the people who are suggesting the renaming to pick the street
    2. there is no process specified for going out to the community to choose the street to be renamed
    3. every street renaming of this type since Martin Luther King Jr Blvd has begun with the proposers suggesting the street to be renamed

    Other than that?

    Well, other than that, the only reasons I can see why the committee wouldn't have done that is that it would have required them to engage in a much more costly process for the sole purpose of hearing "Sure, but not in my backyard", along with those more pungent comments we've already discussed, from more areas of the city. Unlike the previous paragraph that's just my opinion, not a fact, but I think there's plenty of evidence to support it.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    If we're all racists, then what do we call the assholes who harrassed Suzii?

    We call them assholes. Not every racist acts like an asshole, that doesn't mean they aren't racists.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    I think it is important to remember that Cesar Chavez was the director of the Community Service Organization, which was basically a civil rights organization, and left to organize farm workers. He was clearly a civil rights leader who became a labor leader. Just as Martin Luther King was a religious leader who became a civil rights leader.

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    Suzii never said anything remotely like she has a preference for the company of the twits.

    I don't know who you think you are fooling here, Doretta. Stating that she'd feel safer in the company of the two twits is self-evidently stating a preference.

    Is your view of human beings really so simplistic that you can't understand how a person might feel that a person can be more interesting and even a better human being but still more unsafe?

    "A better human being but still more unsafe?" Do you seriously expect anyone to buy into such psycho-babble?

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    Did anyone notice an emotional debate over making 82nd to Avenue of the Roses? Were there complaints that it didn't follow the proper process? The reality is this debate is about race. There are plenty of good arguments on both sides of the issue, but that is not what has turned it into an emotional battle. Its about people who don't want their neighborhood identified as "Latino" and those who do.

    Ross, well said. Great point. Thanks.

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    Do you feel there are some Latinos involved in this effort that are every bit as racist as the white people they feel are attaching them?

    Would you feel attacked if I called you a no-account hillbilly because you aren't bilingual or because you can't speak Spanish without an accent?

    I think you'd be justified to defend yourself. I think you'd be justified to be angry. Would you be racist for pushing back? I don't think so.

    By the same token, I don't think that the community leaders who were attacked and treated like shit at those meetings were racist or unjustified in pushing back.

    Was it their best course of action? Probably not. Could the have handled things better? Possibly. But I'm not going to second-guess them for responding as they did when when confronted with some of the hostility and attacks that they were treated to in those meetings.

    Do you feel MLK or Chaves put sunlight on every instance of racism they perceived? If you have read anything of them you will know this answer.

    I think it's probably a mistake to hold every civic leader to the same standard as two of the most remarkable men of our time.

    I also think you are either a revisionist or you are sorely mistaken if you believe that either of those two men would have allowed racist attacks in public meetings -- and the meetings we are discussing were some of the ugliest meetings Portland has ever seen, according to the O -- to go unchallenged.

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    Posted by: Jack | Nov 17, 2007 6:48:37 PM Complete and utter bullshit, blissfully uniformed by scientific fact. Do yourself a favor and read some real science for once, not the pseudoscience of cultural anthropologists. The REAL science (biology, physical anthropology) is crystal clear on this subject. Race is real, race is biological, race is NOT a social construct. I know a lot of you leftist ideologues can't be bothered to crack open a peer-reviewed science journal, but if you're going to repeat lies, at least make sure they're not so easily falsified.

    No Jack, what is total bullshit is the crap you just posted above. First, cultural anthropology is science. Second, most biologists and numerious sientitst across multiple disciplines cntradict your woefully ill-infomred statement.

    (From wikipedia) In an ongoing debate, some geneticists argue that race is neither a meaningful concept nor a useful heuristic device, and even that genetic differences among groups are biologically meaningless, on the grounds that more genetic variation exists within such races than among them, and that racial traits overlap without discrete boundaries. Other geneticists, in contrast, argue that categories of self-identified race/ethnicity or biogeographic ancestry are both valid and useful, that these categories correspond with clusters inferred from multilocus genetic data, and that this correspondence implies that genetic factors might contribute to unexplained phenotypic variation between groups. In February, 2001, the editors of the medical journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine asked authors to no longer use "race" as an explanatory variable and not to use obsolescent terms. Some other peer-reviewed journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Journal of Public Health, have made similar endeavours. Furthermore, the National Institutes of Health recently issued a program announcement for grant applications through February 1, 2006, specifically seeking researchers who can investigate and publicize among primary care physicians the detrimental effects on the nation's health of the practice of medical racial profiling using such terms. The program announcement quoted the editors of one journal as saying that, "analysis by race and ethnicity has become an analytical knee-jerk reflex."

    The only "anti-science" blather being posted here is your ill-informed rant about "anti-science leftists".

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    Ugh.. that should have said:

    "No Jack, what is total bullshit is the crap you just posted above. First, cultural anthropology is science. Second, most biologists and numerous scientists across multiple disciplines contradict your woefully ill-informed statement."

    Need more coffee.

  • 2L2L (unverified)
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    Doretta! This is stunning! "I've never pretended to represent the entire Kenton neighborhood. When I vote I represent me." You need to be removed from the Kenton Neighborhood Assoc. IMMEDIATELY if that is your take on your responsibilites. Unreal...The arrogance of that comment just stuns.

  • David McDonald (unverified)
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    I posted a comment (which is really a post on my blog) on another thread about this topic. When I read the comments on this thread, it makes me realize just how far we still need to go in addressing race here in Oregon.

    Not saying pain is always a bad thing, but the pain coming through here is HEAVY. Here's my comment with some highlights...

    After listening to yesterday’s testimony at City Hall I finally “get it”. I’d been thinking that a tribute to honor Cesar E. Chavez could take many forms. A community center replete with recreation, employment, housing, and social resources named in his honor was 1 idea I had. You know; let the city put its money where its mouth is. Another thought I had was to name a street in an upscale part of town after him. Make those rich folks squirm a little bit. I couldn’t figure out what the big deal about renaming N. Interstate was all about. My question was answered by folks presenting testimony.

    One woman spoke of how N. Interstate runs parallel to N.E. Martin Luther King Boulevard, and that’s important because of the struggles the Black and Latino communities have shared in Oregon. That makes a lot of sense. Another point made by several people was that the Commissioners had given their word that this was going to happen, and had reneged on that promise. I wasn’t aware of this (which I’ll go into further), but that makes their word pretty worthless in general. I guess what really got to me most was a man who spoke of “wanting a win”. In his 2 minutes of testimony he was able to express the frustration of a minority group that seems to always be on the losing end of things. He articulated the feelings his people have about not getting to live self directed lives. He was talking about PRINCIPAL.

    Having said that (to quote Randy Leonard), I want to share a few thoughts about the process involved, and how people in this state do things. I live 3 blocks west of Interstate on N. Emerson St. I heard both proponents and opponents of the name change saying they had each done extensive neighborhood outreach to find out what people on and around Interstate thought of it. No one came to my door. No one sent me any letter. No one left any flier on my porch. Perhaps if they had done so, I wouldn’t have been as ignorant and uninformed as to what both sides were thinking. I guess you had to be on the inside to have that information. The fact is, I didn’t even know there was a problem until AFTER a meeting with the Overlook Neighborhood Association had occurred. A quarterly newsletter they send out told me about a row that had taken place.

    Why do Oregonians believe that secrecy and small groups of insiders is the best practice for improving the community? I’ve written about this phenomenon several times in regard to the developmental disability community here. It’s not only a weak modus operendus, but in my opinion it’s blatantly unethical. Open and honest dialogue is what gets things done in a sustainable way. If you’re going to run around trying to be Bush Junior, your karma/God will catch up to you, and in the end things will go belly up. I’m not a religious man, but I do believe in the Golden Rule. Do you want to be left out of the loop on issues you care about? Didn’t think so...

    We have merely seen the tip of the iceberg on the issue of Cesar E. Chavez/N. Interstate Ave., and now S.W. 4th Ave. Ultimately there may be some serious discussion on race, class, and phony politics. I believe that may result in some healing. It will be painful but good; but only if it’s done in an honest, transparent way. In the meantime, I want to go on record as saying RENAME NORTH INTERSTATE AVE. to NORTH CESAR E. CHAVEZ BOULEVARD!!!!!!

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    Sal and dorretta

    If the leaders of the brown side of this issue are not racist. How come non of them are active in North Portland neighborhood associations or development? How come none of them made it a point to build a coalition of support from the residents and business owners of North Portland before the name change was brought to the City Council?

    The 3 of us agree more than it appears. Where we depart is I see the leaders of the name change effort every bit as racist and fowl as some of the people that were against the change. Both sides made this a racial issue by their actions and I place most of the blame on the leaders of the name change effort. They have become the racist beast they struggle to slay.

    Fred

  • ws (unverified)
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    "Did anyone notice an emotional debate over making 82nd to Avenue of the Roses? Were there complaints that it didn't follow the proper process? The reality is this debate is about race. There are plenty of good arguments on both sides of the issue, but that is not what has turned it into an emotional battle. Its about people who don't want their neighborhood identified as "Latino" and those who do." Ross Williams

    Is this comment attempting to say, that had 82nd Avenue been asked to change their street name to Cesar Chavez Avenue, the residents of that neighborhood would also have objected, as Interstate has in their case? That's quite an amazingly simplistic theory.

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    Regarding 82nd Avenue... that's not an official name change. Also, when it gets done officially, it'll be "82nd Avenue of Roses".

    Personally, I don't understand why we can't double-name streets. They do it in Chicago and in New York and all over the place.

    No reason it can't be BOTH Cesar Chavez and 4th.

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    Kari,

    Now that is an excellent solution to the problem and one I have a feeling might be to late in coming. The one thing I would add is that the Postal address can be either as well as long as the US Postal Service can support. See no reason why they would not.

    Fred

  • ws (unverified)
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    Double-name...now that would be a curve ball in this game. Considering that option, the next big thought would likely be over which name would run first: Interstate-Cesar Chavez Ave, Cesar Chavez-Interstate Ave, S.W. 4th Ave-Cesar Chavez Ave, Cesar Chavez-S.W. 4th Ave. Would the renaming committee settle for what a spot in the name order they may see as second billing? Is the Interstate renaming committee even part of this process anymore now that city hall more or less took the lead on this deal?

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    Fred,

    If the leaders of the brown side of this issue are not racist. How come non of them are active in North Portland neighborhood associations or development?

    What? Anyone who isn't active in a neighborhood association is racist? I can't say I follow that logic. I love Portland's neighborhood association system. I love that it gives people a great way to be involved in building community and I love that everyone has a right to be involved no matter who or what they are. I think the Portland neighborhood association system has a much larger positive effect on the quality of life in Portland than almost anyone gives it credit for. Its positive impact is certainly way out of proportion to what it costs and to the number of people involved--which at any given time is a small percentage of the population no matter what their race/ethnicity.

    On the other hand, it's much less mysterious to me now than it used to be why people of color are so conspicuously missing from most of it.

    How come none of them made it a point to build a coalition of support from the residents and business owners of North Portland before the name change was brought to the City Council?

    You are making a lot of judgments about people you don't know and whose actions you are not very clear about. What you are suggesting they should have done is exactly what the Chavez committee did try to do. They were met almost immediately with strong opposition and a strong dose of outright racism. (For the eleventybillionth time for the peanut gallery, no those are not the same things, that's why there's an "and" in that sentence, because it lists two things.)

    The people on the committee are only human. I'm not claiming, and no one else would either, that everything that was done was done perfectly. I am convinced, however, that nothing the committee could have done differently would have materially improved the outcome.

    Having seen how it went in North Portland and having been exposed to some research about how renaming streets after civil rights leaders has fared in other parts of the country, I'm also persuaded that the committee would have faced much the same no matter what the process, including had they followed the current city code to the letter of the law.

    Actually, the committee did adhere to all the current rules about streets and the person to be honored, and they did do almost everything in the current code that it is up to the proposer (as opposed to the city) to do--I think the only significant exception was not paying a fee. They did far more than has been done by any other group that has gotten a street renamed.

    I believe that if you take all the people who don't like streets to be renamed for nonracist reasons and then you add all the people who don't want streets renamed after people of color for racist reasons you will have a majority of people in every section of town of any significant size who will be opposed to such a street renaming.

    I'm persuaded by my experience and the experience of others that that is true of anything--not just street renamings--where a minority group is perceived as potentially acquiring something perceived as belonging to the majority.

    Is it your position that Martin Luther King Jr Blvd should still be Union Ave, Naito Parkway should still be Front Ave and Rosa Parks Way should still be Portland Blvd because once the white guys get all the marbles it's only fair that they should get to keep them?

    If I'm right about the dynamic, then what's the alternative?

    If you think I'm wrong about the dynamic, what evidence can you point to that supports that point of view?

  • Miles (unverified)
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    Doretta writes: 1. the current code calls for the people who are suggesting the renaming to pick the street 2. there is no process specified for going out to the community to choose the street to be renamed 3. every street renaming of this type since Martin Luther King Jr Blvd has begun with the proposers suggesting the street to be renamed

    The code calls for those submitting the name to collect 2,500 signatures from Portland residents, or signatures from 75% of the property owners abutting the street. The Chavez renaming committee did neither, which is why the Mayor's ordinance had to waive the city code in order to rename Interstate.

    If any other group in this city came forward with a proposal to change someone's neighborhood, and didn't actually consult with the affected neighbors, we would all be criticizing them for failure to be inclusive. So why aren't you willing to criticize this committee?

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    That's quite an amazingly simplistic theory.

    Yes it is and it is entirely your invention.

    Now that is an excellent solution to the problem and one I have a feeling might be to late in coming.

    Fred, how would you feel if that solution was applied retroactively to Union/MLK? This has gotten plain silly. The point was to honor Cesar Chavez, not to cut the baby in half.

    You need to be removed from the Kenton Neighborhood Assoc. IMMEDIATELY if that is your take on your responsibilites. Unreal...The arrogance of that comment just stuns.

    Actually its refreshing to hear someone who is part of neighborhood association acknowledge they can't represent the opinion of the neighborhood, just their own opinion of what is best for the neighborhood.

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    You need to be removed from the Kenton Neighborhood Assoc. IMMEDIATELY if that is your take on your responsibilites. Unreal...The arrogance of that comment just stuns.

    It seems to me that an anonymous commenter taking potshots from behind that anonymity pretty much has the franchise for arrogance and irresponsibility.

    Portlanders have many different perspectives on neighborhood associations and how they do and should work. There is no consensus model, even at city hall. There is considerable variety among Portland neighborhood associations.

    In my view, the strength of neighborhood associations is in the commmunity building activities that they themselves can do or can support others in doing. In my experience, when neighborhood associations and boards focus on voting on things, rather than doing things, they tend to attract petty yet self-important people whose main interest is in telling other people what those other people ought to be doing.

    Insofar as I've had anything to do with it, the Kenton Neighborhood Association board has been very clear that when the board votes on things they are only representing the board, not the general membership of the Neighborhood Association and that if there is an issue that requires a vote of the Kenton Neighborhood Association, that requires a vote of the general membership.

    When the board votes on something, each board member casts their own vote according to their own understanding and conscience. When the general membership votes on something, each member casts their own vote according to their own understanding and conscience. I always try to listen carefully to what other people have to say, but when I vote on something, I vote based on what I think is right for Kenton, not based on what I imagine other people think is right for Kenton. I think the latter would be arrogant in the extreme.

    We have sometimes had board members who claimed that they were representing the majority of the residents of Kenton or, alternatively, hundreds of people they had talked to. Being the skeptic I am, I have never supported giving those people hundreds of votes. If those hundreds of other people want to be represented, they need to show up and vote for themselves.

    I have been a member of the Kenton Neighborhood Association board for going on seven years now. In that time I have spent literally thousands of hours: planning and leading meetings; contacting people for information of benefit to the community and arranging for that information to be made available to the community; working on understanding transportation projects, development projects, public housing projects and noise reduction projects and helping to think through how to make those projects better; working with and serving on other committees on issues important to Kenton; working with other neighborhood associations and other neighborhood leaders; writing and implementing grants for the benefit of the neighborhood; working to keep North Precinct open; working to make the Kenton Community Policing Office a community resource; installing wireless internet in the Kenton firehouse; lending neighbors support on land use, crime prevention and nusiance issues; removing graffiti, abandoned autos and cleaning up the neighborhood; planning and supporting community events; evaluating grants...

    Who are you and what have you done?

  • susan (unverified)
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    Excuse me while I take a break from this chasing-its-tale discussion (did so, did not, did so) to pick myself up off the floor from laughing too hard. 82nd Avenue is going to be Avenue of the roses? Has anyone driven down 82nd lately?

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    Race is real, race is biological, race is NOT a social construct.

    So explain how someone with threw white grandparents and one black grandparent is black. And their children are black.

    I once read a contemporary account of a pioneer logger in Northern Minnesota commenting that it was strange to be the only one of his "race" in his crew, "all the others being Swedes."

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    Renaming it is part of a big revitalization and cleanup of 82nd. It was something the community supported and was involved with.

    Here is a story from the Portland Tribune on it.

    And here is something from Commissioner Sam Adams' site.

  • (Show?)

    The code calls for those submitting the name to collect 2,500 signatures from Portland residents, or signatures from 75% of the property owners abutting the street. The Chavez renaming committee did neither, which is why the Mayor's ordinance had to waive the city code in order to rename Interstate.

    I know that the Chavez committee did in fact collect signatures from Portland residents and I challenge you to present a single shred of evidence that the petition requirement was the reason for waiving the code.

    I don't have first-hand information about how many signatures were gathered but the media reported that at the hearing last week they submitted 2600+.

  • (Show?)

    "A better human being but still more unsafe?" Do you seriously expect anyone to buy into such psycho-babble?

    Dude, if you were in an airplane at 35,000 feet, who would you feel safer with at the controls--a highly trained pilot who kicks his dog and beats his wife and plans to steal your wallet at the end of the flight or a really nice guy who gives large amounts of money to worthy causes and whose only technical training was in television repair?

    Sometimes how good a human being you are just isn't the most significant factor. Suzii's point was that in some contexts cluelessness can be scarier than bad intentions.

    P.S. Re: "psychobabble"--You will be more successful in your attempts to insult people if you stick to words that you actually know the meaning of.

  • ws (unverified)
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    "How come none of them made it a point to build a coalition of support from the residents and business owners of North Portland before the name change was brought to the City Council?" Fred

    "You are making a lot of judgments about people you don't know and whose actions you are not very clear about. What you are suggesting they should have done is exactly what the Chavez committee did try to do." Doretta

    You claim that the Chavez committee tried to do that, but you don't list what they did. That leaves us to presume you're referring to the several community meetings the Chavez committee presented at, where the racist bonehead's spew was allowed to represent overall neighborhood opposition to the name change as racist. Where's the fairness in that? It's not clear the Chavez rename committee did their legwork, but maybe they did some work in that respect that hasn't been reported. In the absence of what information may exist in that regard, I'm thinking about the following excerpt from David McDonald's post, back aways(Nov 18, 2007 1:15:27 PM):

    "I live 3 blocks west of Interstate on N. Emerson St. I heard both proponents and opponents of the name change saying they had each done extensive neighborhood outreach to find out what people on and around Interstate thought of it. No one came to my door. No one sent me any letter. No one left any flier on my porch. Perhaps if they had done so, I wouldn’t have been as ignorant and uninformed as to what both sides were thinking. I guess you had to be on the inside to have that information. The fact is, I didn’t even know there was a problem until AFTER a meeting with the Overlook Neighborhood Association had occurred. A quarterly newsletter they send out told me about a row that had taken place." David McDonald

    Regarding the comment of Ross Williams:

    "Did anyone notice an emotional debate over making 82nd to Avenue of the Roses? Were there complaints that it didn't follow the proper process? The reality is this debate is about race. There are plenty of good arguments on both sides of the issue, but that is not what has turned it into an emotional battle. Its about people who don't want their neighborhood identified as "Latino" and those who do." Ross Williams

    "That's quite an amazingly simplistic theory."ws

    Yes it is and it is entirely your invention." Ross Williams

    No Ross. You came up with the analysis, you drew the conclusion and you ventured the theory. It's your baby.

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    doretta,

    You may not know this, but I am very failure with Neighborhood Associations and working with them. I was President of King Neighborhood for nearly 10 years. I also know the people involved in the effort to rename Interstate or known of them as well as the people they should have reached out to in the North Portland Community if they were actively seeking support for the name change.

    In addition to all of this, I have grown up in North/Northeast Portland. It is the place where I have made a home for my family, started my career in business and where I hope to contribute for many years to come.

    In 1994 when a local business man named the corner of Alberta and MLK after Portland Police Officer Harry Jackson. The business owner made it a point to sit down with Officer Jackson, Leaders in several neighborhoods and churches as well as a few of the business in the area. He did not have to do that. He could have just named the square as he owned it and could do what he wanted. That was my suggestion to him as I felt he would allow others that had no vested interest in the project to distract us from our goal. I am happy he did not listen to me. Not everyone supported the effort, but most did. The ones that did not could not claim racism and they could not claim their opinions were not listened to. Their right to disagree was respected and the right of the others in the community to support was upheld. Bottom line, the action was not forced in, but brought in by the community.

    These people that lead the effort to change Interstate and I include our Mayor in this owe the people of Portland an apology. They have become the beast progressive minded people have struggled to slay in this city. This effort might not have ended up with a name change on Interstate, but it could have helped advance the neighborhood and Portland for that matter.

    So I end doretta, you do not know me, as if you did you would not keep amusing me with your support of race bating civil rights leader wanna bees that don't know oppression from a dogs anus. I hope one day when we meet face to face it is over a tall pint of Terminal Gravity IPA as I will be in a better mood when we talk about how people like you help racist of all back grounds feel safe in Portland Oregon.

    Fred

  • (Show?)

    You claim that the Chavez committee tried to do that, but you don't list what they did. That leaves us to presume you're referring to the several community meetings the Chavez committee presented at, where the racist bonehead's spew was allowed to represent overall neighborhood opposition to the name change as racist.

    "... that leaves us to presume..."

    Gosh, whatever happened to the option of:

    "Huh. I didn't realize that. What exactly did they do to try and build community support?"

    Well, since you asked:

    They walked the street and talked to business owners on multiple occasions.

    They met with leadership from NA boards and arranged to meet with the full boards to explain the project and seek support. They arranged with the boards to attend scheduled general NA meetings and do likewise. They presented at those NA meetings. They asked the NAs to put out the word.

    They attended the Arbor Lodge neighborhood fair which typically attracts about 600 people.

    They attended a concert in the park which typically attracts a couple thousand people.

    They went out and spoke to various other civic groups--I'm not sure exactly how many but I know it was more than a dozen and it may have been significantly more than that.

    They presented at both the city-sponsored community meetings.

    That's just the stuff I know about and I know I don't know half of what they did.

    It is really easy for some of us to dismiss those (actually more than just a few) obviously racist incidents as insignificant and really hard for others of us to not have them dominate our hearing. I think our collective unwillingness to understand and acknowledge that is one of the big disconnects in this discussion thread.

    Some people and a few businesses were very supportive but there is no getting around the fact that they met with significant hostility from the community. Even a fair amount of the opposition that I would judge to be not fundamentally racist was fairly hostile.

    It is very hard to keep going back to the community under those circumstances. In my personal opinion the Chavez committee persevered well beyond any expectations that are reasonable for ordinary human beings. I'm frankly amazed that they kept going back and taking that stuff and, for the most part, maintaining their calm and poise through it.

  • (Show?)

    Fred,

    I'd be happy to buy you that pint at the establishment of your choice. My email address is (my name)@(my name).com where (my name) is replaced with the name at the top of this post.

    Drop me a line and we'll arrange to arm wrestle. I still think there is plenty of opportunity to advance the neighborhood and Portland. It sounds to me like you have some more ideas along those lines and I'd like to hear them.

  • sean cruz (unverified)
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    A long, long time ago this conversation was about Cesar Chavez and finding a way to honor this great Mexican American hero. It is so far from there now, it is fading from memory.

    Has anyone considered asking the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for some advice or any sort of comment at all?

    They're headquarted on Fifth Avenue, a few blocks from Chinatown.

    One would think that they would be fighting to rename Fifth Avenue instead of Fourth, but that is all a mystery....

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    Ross,

    I think back to the name change of Union to MLK. A pretty passionate debate followed that effort for sure. However, I think it should be noted that there was more support from more community, church and business leaders for the change that what we have here today with the Chaves effort.

    The MLK could have been handled better and the race card did not have to be played in some of the discussions in which it was used. However, I can assure you there was more racist and more fear in the community back then than what we have today.....on both sides.

    So to answer your question. I could support a name change for MLK if someone could show me it would improve the community, the businesses and public services that support the needs of the community and the change had the support of the majority of the people in the neighborhood.

    Fred

  • ws (unverified)
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    Doretta (Nov 18, 2007 7:19:21 PM), thanks for those additional bits of info regarding your knowledge of how the renaming community worked to develop community support for the name change. I don't believe the exact details of their efforts have been widely reported, aside from a few community meetings they presented at, so that leaves me wondering why you would be surprised that some people wouldn't know of them.

    At any rate, despite gathering the 2500 signatures, wherever it is they gathered them from, they obviously failed to develop sufficient community support to implement the name change. Any racist incident is significant, but here the question is whether racist incidents associated with various people opposing the renaming reflect fundamentally representative sentiments of the greater part of the opposition to the extent that those sentiments became the over-riding obstacle in the failure to rename Interstate to Chavez.

  • Miles (unverified)
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    I know that the Chavez committee did in fact collect signatures from Portland residents and I challenge you to present a single shred of evidence that the petition requirement was the reason for waiving the code. I don't have first-hand information about how many signatures were gathered but the media reported that at the hearing last week they submitted 2600+.

    Marta Guembes testified at Council that she had 1,600 signatures, but she wasn't going to turn them over to Council because she and the committee wanted to keep them as a memory of the support they had for renaming Interstate. So my first-hand knowledge comes from one of the leaders of the renaming effort. And it's far short of the 2,500 required.

    The reason for waiving the code was that they did not follow a number of the steps required. That fact isn't under debate, as both the committee and the Mayor will tell you that's why they had to waive code. You're correct that Naito and Rosa Parks didn't follow the procedures either, so that's not actually why I'm blaming the committee (that IS, though, why I'm blaming the Mayor). I'm blaming the committee because they tried to secure political support from the Mayor before securing community support. Ask the business owners and residents -- were they notified? Were they included in the process? Not until after the Mayor said it was going to happen, they just had to hold a couple of public hearings for cover. Most of the events you cite happened after it was a fait accomplis.

    So again I ask, do you believe that the correct way to go about effecting social change is top-down? Do you believe the right way to change someone's neighborhood is by first securing political support, then consulting with the people most affected? Would you allow any other group trying to do anything else in Portland the same lattitude you are giving this renaming committee?

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    However, I can assure you there was more racist and more fear in the community back then than what we have today.....on both sides.

    If you consider the discussion of immigration that is going on, the level of fear and hostility is comparable to the 1940's in the south. It is a different community that is the target, but I am not sure the level of fear is any lower.

    Would you allow any other group trying to do anything else in Portland the same lattitude you are giving this renaming committee?

    Was the process for Rosa Parks, Naito and Avenue of the Roses any different? Or MLK for that matter. And at this point, shouldn't the folks concerned about process be on the same side as the committee? Afterall, changing 4th to Cesar Chavez didn't follow any process either. Both sides ought to be demanding the decision be reopened. I suspect for many opponents the concern about "process" stopped as long as Interstate was off the table.

    BTW - I think the process stunk. But that is not really unusual in Portland.

  • (Show?)

    Miles,

    I don't know what to say about you believing you heard 1600. I know that at least one media outlet reported 2600+ and I had heard from the committee that they were at more than 2000 some time before that. Also, as I mentioned earlier, the code contains a lot of rules about what streets and people are eligible along with steps that the proposers are supposed to follow and steps the city is supposed to follow. The committee followed the rules for the street and person. Except for the paying the fee part and the above dispute about numbers, pretty much all the steps that weren't followed are things the city is supposed to take care of.

    But in any case, I think it is severe distortion to call what the committee did "top down". They went to the mayor's office for help getting started. They spent a ton of time in the community before they talked to the other four commissioners. That's not top down. It takes three votes.

    Would black people be voting in the American south today if it weren't for "top down" in the mid 60's? Although it's been nearly 150 years, if it had been left to the local community I'm not at all sure that we still wouldn't have legal slavery in that part of the country.

    To answer your question directly, no, I don't think top-down is normally the best way to do things--I just don't think that is particularly relevant in this case.

    Now you answer my question. If I'm right that no matter what street was picked or how it was picked and no matter how much the committee did in the community the result would have been substantially the same then how do you think it should work? If the larger community is always going to have a majority against renaming a street for a minority is the right thing to do to just leave all the streets that are named after people named after white people?

  • susan (unverified)
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    Let's not forget that MLK went through the heart of what had been the black community in Portland for many years, making it a logical choice. (and, I might add, that I believe property values have gone up since the change) The small Latino community that exists in the Interstate neighborhood is recent, increasing the feeling of the locals of 'why here, again?".

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    he small Latino community that exists in the Interstate neighborhood is recent, increasing the feeling of the locals of 'why here, again?".

    Isn't that the racial component of this discussion? Fundamentally this is not about renaming a street, but who it was renamed for and the fact that Cesar Chavez is a hero to many in the latino community. This has been, and continues to be, about the "race" of the person being honored.

  • (Show?)

    Ross,

    Where you in the south in the 1940's? I was not, but the body count in my family suffered during those years leads me to believe we have not seen anything like the 1940's since the 1940's and thank god. I have not seen nor heard anything in the back and forth in this issue that remotely reminds me of anything I have ever heard of occurring in the 1940's.

    What we have here on this issue is a classic failure to communicate. I do not see oppression from the majority limiting the opportunities of the minorities. Nor do I see brown people raped, lynched, maimed and murdered for standing up for what they believe in. If you have seen any of this, please call the cops now.

    Fred

  • (Show?)

    doretta,

    Some of the people involved in the name change are pretty smart...connected even. They went to the Mayors office as an end around to reaching out to the community. A tactic often used by people that have decided they do not have a chance to build the support they need for an endeavor they are undertaking. The Mayor should have known better than to allow his office to be used in this manner.

    If I ever have a beer again with the Mayor I will ask him what in the world was he thinking. When Potter was a police officer, he was one of my examples of someone that knew how to communicate and build consensus. Do not know what has happened to him in the 17 years since. It is not pretty. I want the Old Potter Back!

    I do not believe these people have any where near as many signatures they and others have reported. If they do, then they should turn them over to one of the community newspapers or the city so they signatures can be verified. For all we know they have gathered signatures from a boy scout jamboree in Bend or at a Vancouver, Washington shopping mall. Until then I call BS on the petition.

    The arrogance of it all pours out of some of your messages. Not one thought given to what was the right thing to do, or if the right relationships or discussions were held. Just the fact they did something at all no matter how meager is good enough for you and others.

    Fred

  • Miles (unverified)
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    Was the process for Rosa Parks, Naito and Avenue of the Roses any different? Or MLK for that matter. And at this point, shouldn't the folks concerned about process be on the same side as the committee?

    First, to reiterate the above posts, Avenue of the Roses is not a real name change. It is symbolic. It will still be "82nd Avenue -- the Avenue of the Roses" (resolution 36351 if you want to look it up). 82nd Avenue will still be the postal address. Really, they're just putting up some fancy signcaps. I suspect opposition would have been significantly reduced if the proposal was "Interstate Avenue -- the Avenue of Cesar Chavez."

    Yes, Naito and Rosa Parks followed a similarly flawed process. And the way those two changes were pushed through made people sensitive to further renamings. As for 4th avenue, you bet I think it stinks. Council refused to just take a step back and start the process over again, and I think all hell is going to break loose again. (By the way, are the opponents in Chinatown racist? Or are they just burdened by asian privilege?)

  • Miles (unverified)
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    Would black people be voting in the American south today if it weren't for "top down" in the mid 60's? Although it's been nearly 150 years, if it had been left to the local community I'm not at all sure that we still wouldn't have legal slavery in that part of the country.

    Doretta, do you understand why it's frustrating to have proponents of the name change say "We know that not all opponents of the change are racist", and then in the next breath have you compare the proponents of the name change to the civil rights leaders of the 1960s and the abolitionists who ridded our country of slavery? By inference, that puts the opponents in bed with the slave owners and segregationists. Even if that's not your intention, that's the practical outcome.

    If I'm right that no matter what street was picked or how it was picked and no matter how much the committee did in the community the result would have been substantially the same then how do you think it should work? If the larger community is always going to have a majority against renaming a street for a minority is the right thing to do to just leave all the streets that are named after people named after white people?

    This is a great question, and probably the heart of our disagreement. You assume that the reaction would be the same no matter how much community outreach was done, that there is a permanent majority against renaming streets for minorities. Given that assumption, you believe it's okay to force the change on people because it's the right thing to do and we can't trust people to do the right thing.

    I disagree. I think we can trust people to do the right things, particularly here in Portland. I believe that people are naturally fearful of change, and this fear is exacerbated when that change is advocated by people they don't know and who don't consult with them. I am optimistic that when we engage in true community outreach, when we actually listen to people, when we empathize with their concerns, we can make progress even on difficult issues.

    Imagine the possibilities if the renaming committee had talked to every business owner on Interstate before they solicited political support from City Hall. Imagine if they had attended full neighborhood meetings before they went to City Hall. Imagine if the business owners and neighbors had personally heard the heartfelt push by this committee BEFORE they read about the name change in the paper. You think they'd still oppose it. I don't.

    I want a major street in Portland to be renamed after Chavez. I live in southwest, and if they came around talking about renaming Vermont, Multnomah Blvd., or Barbur, I'd speak up in support. But if I read about it in the newspaper first, I'd oppose it. It's that simple.

  • ws (unverified)
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    "If you consider the discussion of immigration that is going on, the level of fear and hostility is comparable to the 1940's in the south. It is a different community that is the target, but I am not sure the level of fear is any lower." Ross Williams

    True, according to news reports, some of that 40's hostility has been going on down around the U.S./Mexico border in today's time, associated with the illegal hispanic immigration issue, but very little of it here in Oregon. Oh, sure, there's isolated incidents, such as the drunken mob of fools beating up on a couple Hispanic guys this summer at the Clackamas River, but there seems to be comparatively little consistent, day to day pattern of fear and oppression of hispanic/latinos/mexican people.

    If people want to work on making things better for people of all ethnic origins, that's way cool. Same with zeroing in on and routing out white power morons like Suzii says she had the misfortune of meeting. I don't doubt that some of those idiots have gravitated to and have been hanging out around Interstate during all the years that part of town has languished. Getting the community to work with you to accomplish those kinds of things may be much harder if it has been recklessly labeled racist, out of a poorly prepared effort to rename the major street running through the community.

  • ws (unverified)
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    Miles, I appreciate your summary of the situation;(comment Nov 19, 2007 11:40:32 AM). Majority rules is often not the best way to do things to ensure fairness and equality for all. Intelligent people though, will respond to an appeal to reason and principles of fairness if it's brought to their attention that the majority's position on a particular issue may not be representative of fairness and equality.

    As the renaming committee encountered incidents of racism in their efforts to gather support for the renaming of Interstate to Chavez, they should have worked harder to accurately determine the extent of that racist tendency in the community. With that knowledge, they then should have appealed to more reasoned minds in the community to weigh in on what would have been the best and most fair for the people of the community as a whole.

  • Kija (unverified)
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    I guess the ability to think critically and honestly about this conversation is best exemplified by Bob R's assertion that my use of the word insouciant was "inappropriate" and "escalating the adjectives" in a thread in which I have been called a race-baiter, a hate-mongerer, a dumbfuck and perhaps a dozen or so other epithets. But for Bob, it's that word insouciant that rankles, that "escalates" that's is "inappropriate". I think nothing could better illustrate how impossibly closed some people's minds are.

    I am glad that others were willing to speak up and better articulate exactly the examples of privilege in the posts than I did. Thank you Doretta, you captured exactly what I was thinking when I read the messages before making my first post.

    I also should acknowledge that Blue Oregon is not responsible for the racism and anti-progressive nature of the people posting here. Some of the most rabid posters are self-described libertarians and "independent populists," both of which are threads within the Democratic party but are not the whole cloth.

    However, Blue Oregon's name and the many party officials and regulars who post here do give it the impression that they have the imprimatur of the Party. That is unfortunate - because it is my hope that the racism so proudly and loudly defended here reflects badly on both organizations. Even if you are not responsible for the people posting here, that they are the dominant voice speaks volumes.

  • Kija (unverified)
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    Sorry, started rewriting the last paragraph and really made a mess. I started to say it was my hope that people could become less defensive because I think we need to talk about racism more, not less. Then realized that will never happen with this group and backspaced and instead voiced my concern that the racism here reflects badly on Blue Oregon and the DPO. Any way, it ended up with a sentence that is seriously not correct. I don't hope this reflects badly on Blue Oregon, I fear that it does. I do hope we could discuss this more rationally and honestly, but as I said, have no faith in the honesty and integrity of people who think insouciant is worse than dumbfuck.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    I do not see oppression from the majority limiting the opportunities of the minorities. Nor do I see brown people raped, lynched, maimed and murdered for standing up for what they believe in. If you have seen any of this, please call the cops now.

    Of course you don't. And white people didn't see those things happening to blacks in the south in the 40's either. And they would have, like you, told black people to call the police.

    The fact is that "brown people", including American citizens, have been waking up to find armed immigration officers in their homes - no search warrant required.

  • Ted (unverified)
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    As for racism, somebody made the comment that somebody who is wrongly accused of racism isn't as much a victim as the racial minority who makes the accusation. What you're really discussing is prejudice directed toward someone based on their skin color, physical appearance, cultural manners, etc, when logically there is no reason to judge someone's thoughts and values on such a superficial basis. The human central nervous system is basically the same for all of mankind. The argument against racism at its most fundamental, therefore, has to cut both ways. I'm not denying that certain races have suffered disproportionately from racism, but on a case by case basis, who is to say that a white person in America can't be just as deeply hurt or injured as a result of prejudice thinking?

  • (Show?)

    Kija, there is nothing wrong with my honesty or integrity thank you. Then again I am not the one going around saying that all white people are inherently racist because they grew up in "racist America". Such an assertion which was put forward by YOU and hence why the appellation for you and your post was aptly earned.

  • (Show?)

    Ross,

    Have you heard? I have been black since 1964.

    Fred

  • (Show?)

    Miles,

    By inference, that puts the opponents in bed with the slave owners and segregationists.

    I am responsible for my implications but not for your inferences. I did not put the opponents in bed with anyone.

    I chose segregation and slavery not because I'm accusing people of supporting those things. On the contrary, I picked them because I think most of us can agree those were and are Very Bad Things. I believe that had we waited for the general populace of the south to come around to that point of view on their own, we might well still be waiting. Thus my support of doing things top-down in some circumstances, particularly where race is a major factor.

    I think we can trust people to do the right things, particularly here in Portland.

    I agree that this is probably the source of much of our disagreement. The hard part for me personally in all this is that I used to think that too and now I don't. I am still in shock from what I saw and experienced in my community--my community which I love and in which I have felt more at home than anywhere else I have lived in the last 45 years. The cause of my discomfort is not the out-and-out racists. I can't do this topic justice in a comment thread. I'm working on writing about it and will put it out somewhere--I may submit it as a guest post here.

    Your "imagine" scenario is a pipe dream, in my opinion. My support for that is primarily that

    The committee went to city hall to ask what had to be done to get a street renamed. The mayor's office said something very much like: That sounds like a good idea to me. Here's the code and here are the precedents. The city council has never required anyone to follow the code to the letter but we advise you to follow the eligibility requirements in the code as to the street you pick and the person to be honored.

    Furthermore, we are not satisfied with the amount of community outreach that has been done in other renamings. We want you to go to the community early and often. Make sure you involve the neighborhood associations at the very beginning.

    And that's what they did. I'm telling you, I sat in Sam Adams office and listened to him blast the committee because even though he is the transportation commissioner he heard about this proposal from the community before he heard about it from the committee.

    The committee did talk to many businesses along Interstate before they sought support from the commissioners. They did attend neighborhood meetings before they sought support from the commissioners. The name change only got into the papers because they attended those neighborhood meetings. They didn't call a press conference until the media started reporting based on what was coming out in the neighborhood meeetings.

    The community created the myth that the committee went and sewed up city hall before they came to the community.

  • ws (unverified)
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    All this about the Interstate or Kenton community really doesn't make a lot of sense. Are people that claim racism as the key factor behind the opposition of the name change of Interstate to Chavez really suggesting that they did not know the scale of racist sentiment in that neighborhood until they proposed the name change? Amazing, especially from people that claim to have been long term residents familiar with their community.

    Well, I suppose if they say that area is racist, it must be. Now that the entire public knows this, will any member of the public dare tred into that hotbed of racist activity? Except of course, racists. Just being led to imagine the racist vandalism, beatings, rape, and lynchings that must have been going on behind the scenes around Interstate all these years will probably have ordinary people deciding to avoid the area.

  • Kija (unverified)
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    It is easy to deny being racist if you define racist solely as the sort of people who join the Klan, Volksfront or other white supremacist groups. But though all Klan members are racists (though most of them deny this as loudly as folks here deny it) most racists are not Klan members.

    Of course, if you define racist only in terms of lynching beatings and violence as ws does, then you can assure yourself that you most definitely are not a racist -- and under that extreme and false definition, I would have to agree. But using that definition is dishonest and if you were not so defensive, you would admit the dishonesty of defining racist in such extremist terms.

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    Racists are also those who define all white people as being racist, not just members of the Klan or Stormfront, etc.

  • ws (unverified)
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    "Of course, if you define racist only in terms of lynching beatings and violence as ws does..."Kiija

    No Kiija, that is not what I am doing. That is the interpretation you have chosen to draw from my words. Everyone...everyone is potentially a racist. Whether or not and to what degree I am or am not a racist is a personal subject independent of the question regarding the nature of the opposition within the Interstate community to the renaming of Interstate Ave to Chavez.

    The facts that reasonably aware long-term residents of the metro area have available to them, quite clearly establish that the Interstate community was not identified with any particular racist tendencies until the Interstate renaming committed met opposition to their idea of changing the name of Interstate Ave to Chavez.

    My own perception, according to news and comments people have made on this thread, is that other than a number of obnoxious individual racist outbursts made to people involved with the renaming effort, the Interstate community has not had a racially tinged nature that would have precluded Interstate Ave from being renamed to Chavez, had the effort been conducted with greater consideration for the residents of that community.

    Hey, look...maybe racism is a big problem in the Interstate community. Maybe it was the driving force behind the opposition to the name change. I don't know any more than most other people reading the news, listening to and thinking about what people are saying about the issue. That is what were supposed to do isn't it?

    I just think that if some group is going to identify an entire community as racist, they'd better have the goods to back it up. If it turns out the group's claim of the existence of rampant racism in the Interstate community is valid, then all reasonable people would have that as substantial ground to mount an effort to counter that racism. As things stand, there really does not seem to be much going on over on Interstate other than a lot of people upset that the long term name of the central street running through their community was possibly going to be pulled out from under their feet.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    Ross,

    Have you heard? I have been black since 1964.

    Fred

    Fred, I know you are black. Which means you likely have zero personal experience with whatever fears may now exist in the latino community.

    Maybe you have failed to note the argument that racism is not reserved for white people. As I noted above, this appears to be a dispute about those who want their neighborhood identified as Latino and those who don't. Is it really surprising that some who don't are black?

    In fact, I would be surprised if there wasn't resentment of the latino community trying to claim a traditionally african-american part of the community as their own.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    "But using that definition is dishonest and if you were not so defensive, you would admit the dishonesty of defining racist in such extremist terms."

    <h2>Madam, what race are you? And if you are white, how can you know racism directly without experiencing it?</h2>
in the news 2007

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