As publicly elected officials, and candidates for public office in Lake Oswego, who stand in solidarity that Black Lives Matter, we definitively rebuke the dangerous narrative recently espoused by Mayor Studebaker in an interview with KOIN AM Extra.
When asked about a racist incident that recently occurred in Lake Oswego, in which an anonymous writer asked their South Asian neighbor to remove a sign supporting Black Lives Matter to protect property values, Mayor Studebaker said, "that was kind of a one-off ... we haven't had any other similar incidents."
To describe the valuing of property over Black lives as a "one-off" in a town notorious for once excluding Black, Chinese, and Japanese people from living within our city limits, is to not just ignore, but to deny our collective history, and the painful effects it has on our friends and neighbors today.
The mayor added, "As you know, we've been working on this diversity, equity and inclusion thing for more than a year, so we're pretty far down the line on that."
The mayor's dismissal of the city's diversity, equity, and inclusion task force as just another thing to get "down the line" reflects a lack of commitment. In truth, the city — along with our school district and state — cannot overnight, or even within a year, repair centuries of injustice, which began with the forced removal of Indigenous peoples from this land and continues with the indignities experienced by people of color today.
When asked to share his take on the Black Lives Matter movement, Mayor Studebaker stated, "I think it's been blown out of proportion ... It's not just Black lives matter, I think all lives matter, whether Black, Asian, White, whatever."
Mayor Studebaker, all lives cannot matter until Black lives DO matter. Your statements, intentionally or not, attempt to mask the white supremacy that is alive and well in Lake Oswego, to the detriment of non-white residents and visitors. We must do better.
This is not to say that the community leaders signing onto this email are without fault, or that the city is alone in maintaining racist policies in Lake Oswego. We recognize that we all have work to do, that we all have an opportunity to more aggressively pursue anti-racist policies to break down systems of oppression, and that none of us are above reproach.
We hope that by calling out racist words, ideas, and behaviors that we can begin to create a culture of shared accountability and drive progress toward a more equitable and just future in Lake Oswego.
Column submitted by: Kirsten Aird, Lake Oswego School Board; Joe Buck, Candidate for Lake Oswego Mayor; Emma Burke, Candidate for Lake Oswego City Council; Melissa Fireside, Candidate for Lake Oswego City Council; Neelam Gupta, Lake Oswego School Board; Massene Mboup, Candidate for Lake Oswego City Council; Sara Pocklington, Lake Oswego School Board; Andrea Salinas, Oregon State Representative, HD38; Rob Wagner, Oregon State Senate Majority Leader, SD19; John Wallin, Lake Oswego School Board; Theresa Kohlhoff, Lake Oswego City Council and Candidate for Lake Oswego Mayor
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