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Conversation will be facilitated by Tai Harden-Moore, who holds a law degree from Florida A&M University College of Law

At the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center we ponder many things, which generally leads to great discussions. We love to learn from these discussions and most always take away a new perspective on the topic.

In that vein we are hosting an Oregon Humanities Conversation Project titled "Oregon's Racist Past, Present and Future," from 1-2:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 8. The conversation will be facilitated by Tai Harden-Moore, who holds a law degree from Florida A&M University College of Law. She is passionate about creating change in the community.COURTESY PHOTO  - Tai Harden-Moore will facilitate an Oregon Conversation Project on 'Oregons' Racist Past, Present and Future' Jan. 8 at the LOACC. The discussion is free; please call to reserve a seat.

According to the Oregon Encyclopedia (oregonencyclopedia.com) the Ku Klux Klan arrived in the state in 1921, and quickly established a strong and powerful presence. Oregon was known to have the largest population of KKK members in the west.

Portland's Japantown, or Nihomachi, existed before WWII in the area known today as Old Town-Chinatown, between Northwest Broadway and the Willamette River. It is not widely known that southwest Portland also had a Japantown. It bordered the Willamette River to the east, West Burnside Street to the north, Southwest Broadway to the west and Southwest Montgomery Street on the south.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese in Portland experienced overt demonstrations of hate. In public places people stared, sneered, spat and called out "You dirty Jap." Some stores posted signs that read "No Japs Allowed. These acts were perpetrated against American citizens and legal resident aliens who happened to be of Japanese ancestry.

Fast forward to the 1980s and 1990s: Oregon was a dangerous place for people of color as Oregon became a destination for skinheads, described as youth with closely cropped hair who are members of a subculture noted for short hair, heavy boots and functional clothing, and commonly associated with aggressive behavior and extreme, typically far-right, politics.

Oregon has a long history of racism that continues to influence the state today. While we often look at how the state's racist history affects policies and institutions, we talk less about how it affects people's personal understanding of racism and racist experiences. What does Oregon's racist past mean for Oregonians? How does the state's history affect how bias shows up for individuals? It is uncomfortable to talk about a hurtful and shameful past but it is vital to do so; admit it and forgive so we can learn from the mistakes and build a strong community together.

All are welcome to attend this informative discussion. Please call to reserve a seat so adequate seating can be arranged.

The lunch menu this week features a Kwanza celebration of Ethiopian chicken stew on Friday, Dec. 27; a New Year's lunch of crab quiche on Monday, Dec. 30. Cost is a suggested donation of $4 for those 60 and over and $5 for everyone else.

The center will be closed Jan. 1, New Year's Day.

The LOACC is located at 505 G Ave., Lake Oswego. A list of activities and support groups can be found on our website, www.ci.oswego.or.us/acc. Call 503-635-3758 to register for classes, events, make lunch reservations or schedule a massage.

Marie Bigelow is a program supervisor at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.


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