Article VI. Historical and Ongoing Anti-Blackness in Oregon — Platform of the Multnomah County Democratic Party

PREAMBLE

Oregon from its inception was made to be a “White-only” state with a focus on expressed exclusion of Black people via legislation and public policy. If our state truly hopes to heal from systemic racism and Black exclusion, we must confront Oregon’s unique anti-Black history and the legacy of disadvantage that affects Oregon’s Black population today. The required remedies are unique and multifaceted.

PLANKS

  1. We support strengthening Oregon’s racial impact statements by expanding their scope from sentencing and child welfare to all proposed legislation including universal policies. Racial impact statements must explain which groups will be disproportionately negatively impacted and which groups stand to gain the most economically from the passage of proposed legislation. Far too much wealth redistribution is being denied to Oregon’s American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) community, which is an economic bottom caste in the state of Oregon.
  2. We urgently call on the Democratic Party of Oregon to genuinely work towards building administrative leadership and a cadre of elected officials that fairly and adequately reflect the changing demographics of Oregon. “Representation” mandates much more than being counted as a seat at the table, but rather a significant decision-making voice in all the affairs of the Democratic Party of Oregon.
  3. We support more holistic and robust education about this nation’s and, more specifically, Oregon’s anti-Black exclusionary history in schools across the state.
  4. We strongly believe there should be a formal apology from the Oregon General Assembly for its complicity in the state’s Black Exclusion laws and other anti- Black language in the state’s constitution, dating back to 1844 and not formally removed until 2002. We also believe the Oregon State Legislature must publicly acknowledge the multi-generational trauma, chronic poverty, Oregon’s small Black population, and other disparities between Black and White Oregonians are the direct result of racist laws and public policy.
  5. We strongly support corrective and restorative justice for past racial harms inflicted by local, city, and state government against ADOS in Oregon.
  6. We believe that the Democratic Party at the county and state level must stand in full support of a reparations package for ADOS that includes but is not limited to the following: cash payments, land allocations, protections from predatory schemes, lineage therapy, and homeownership assistance. We further believe a reparations package should include multi-pronged policies and laws, with the end goal of making ADOS families whole thereby closing the lineage wealth gap between ADOS Oregonians and White Oregonians. Paying this debt will be a complex, multi-generational effort, but it is a debt that is owed.
  7. Black Americans constitute 6% of Multnomah County’s population but make up 29% of its jail population. Only 2% of Oregonians are Black, but they represent 10% of the state’s incarcerated population. We believe this atrocity must be corrected through legislation, audits and prison reform.
  8. Findings published in the Portland Business Journal concluded that between 2007 and 2015, the number of small business administration (SBA) loans made to Black businesses in Oregon plummeted 91% from 66 to six. Loans to other racial/ethnic groups declined as well, but not as precipitously. We emphatically believe this disparity must be corrected.
  9. We deplore the fact that Umpqua Bank, Oregon’s largest bank with $19.6 billion in deposits, made only one SBA loan to a Black-owned business in Oregon in the last decade. Equally disgraceful is that Wells Fargo, the largest SBA loan distributor to Black-owned businesses in Oregon, is only marginally better having granted Black businesses 27 SBA loans in the last 10 years.
  10. We believe ADOS Oregonians’ college debt should be forgiven in the same way losses were forgiven for Wall Street financial institutions. Those executive financiers oversaw the evaporation of billions in global wealth. ADOS graduates bought into the idea that education was the key to success in life, only to find after graduation they were locked out. ADOS must not bear the burden of a lie.

LEGISLATIVE ACTION ITEMS

  1. We call on the Oregon State Legislature to expand the scope of ORS 137.683 (Racial Impact Statement) to all proposed legislation.
  2. The Oregon State Legislature must create a law that mandates public schools in the state teach students about America’s original sin of slavery and the Jim Crow era that followed, with an emphasis on the state of Oregon. The legislation should also incentivize the training, hiring, and retention of Black American teachers to teach the aforementioned subject matters. This will help address the Black teacher shortage in Oregon.
  3. Following the issuance of a formal and public apology from the Oregon State Legislature, we demand restorative justice in the form of financial redress and other supportive measures for eligible residents of Oregon. Given that American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) vote more staunchly Democratic than any other racial/ethnic group in the country and voting is an exchange, the Democratic Party of Oregon and Democratic elected officials statewide should be more than willing to assist in these endeavors.
  4. We call for The Oregon State Legislature to create a taskforce to gather data on the amount of Black wealth lost as a direct result of redlining, urban renewal, eminent domain, and freeway construction in historically Black neighborhoods across this state, and specifically in the Albina neighborhood of Portland. After economists calculate the wealth lost, reparations and additional supportive measures should be allocated to the displaced and their descendants.
  5. We call on the Oregon State Legislature to immediately assess the Black correctional populations at the county, city, and state levels. We also demand that there be review of punishments (bail amounts, sentence lengths, amount of time served before parole) being levied at unfairly high levels on Black Oregonians. This is particularly important for disparities based on gender and race for similar crimes to other racial/ethnic groups. We demand there be significant Criminal Justice reform in the form of investment into counseling, alternative sentencing, job training, and rehabilitation for Oregon’s over-incarcerated Black population.
  6. Six percent of Portlanders are Black and two percent of Oregonians are Black. Succeeding as an entrepreneur requires capital, so it is our position that the Oregon State Legislature work in tandem with the federal government to ensure that a minimum of six percent of Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are allocated to Black Portlanders and that a minimum of two percent go to Black Oregonians statewide. Still we encourage that these percentages are not used as a ceiling.
  7. We call on the Oregon State Legislature to authorize bank audits to expose patterns of racial discrimination in lending and require these banks to extend loans to Black businesses and Black institutions. Wells Fargo and Umpqua received bailout from taxpayers and owe a debt to all taxpayers regardless of race. Additionally, Wells Fargo has a long and storied history of using predatory schemes to extract wealth from Black communities. Increasing SBA loans to Black businesses would be an excellent way for banks to begin to redress the past harms they have inflicted on Black communities.