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Legislature to Confront Equality
Rioters are still calling the shots

Oregon House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner and Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek have issued a statement on Oregon’s racist past and committing to a equitable future. Since the destructive riots in Portland that forced the first Special Session of 2020, the Legislature leadership has prioritized what is needed to give non-white communities a hand up. Their statements are a sneak preview into the 2021 session.

The Democrat leaders statement says, "Our colleague, Rep. Janelle Bynum, has been a leading voice in the Legislature for confronting and dismantling the structural legacies that have kept BIPOC Oregonians out of positions of power and influence. For years, Rep. Bynum has refused to accept the status quo systems of power in the state. We appreciate and support Rep. Bynum’s ongoing leadership. She—along with other members of the BIPOC Caucus and other community leaders—has continually pointed out structural problems big and small that conspire to exclude diverse voices in the Legislature. We are deeply grateful for their work to make clear the moral urgency for action, and we are redoubling our efforts to tear down these barriers swiftly and completely.” BIPOC stands for "Black, Indigenous and People of Color."

If we were to fact check this statement, the Black representation in the legislature is 3% and the Black community makes up 2.9% of the Oregon population. American Indians are 1% of the population and have 1% representation. However, Hispanics and Asians lack representation by 3%. What does equity look like to the Democrat leadership?

"We are committed to confronting the past while taking steps to build a future that is more truly equitable—one that centers the needs of people who have been oppressed, discriminated against, and kept out of the halls of influence for too long. In the near term, the Leadership of the Oregon House Democrats is embarking on these steps: "Individually, these are modest steps. Taken together, and with an eye toward future bold ideas, we believe these actions will begin the process of transforming the Oregon Legislature and the decisions that emerge from it. We will be deliberate and intentional in the steps we take to confront Oregon’s racist past, we will follow the lead of BIPOC leaders, and we commit to a brighter future for every Oregonian."

The members of the Legislature’s BIPOC Caucus are Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon (D-Woodburn), Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Happy Valley), Rep. Diego Hernandez (D-Portland), Rep. Akasha Lawrence Spence (D-Portland), Rep. Mark Meek (D-Oregon City), Rep. Andrea Salinas (DLake Oswego), Rep. Tawna Sanchez (D-Portland), Sen. Lew Frederick (D-Portland) and Sen. James Manning (D-Eugene) as well as Rep.-elect Wlnsvey Campos (D-Aloha), Rep.-elect Khanh Pham (D-Portland) and Rep.-elect Ricki Ruiz (D-Gresham).

The BIPOC Caucus responded with a statement, saying, “Diverse voices and perspective are critical in ensuring the work we do serves every person in this state – and on that, there is so much more work to do. It is why we applaud the bold leadership of Rep. Janelle Bynum in starting much needed conversations and advancing reforms to ensure our legislative bodies are representative of the whole state. Monday’s announcement from House Speaker Tina Kotek and House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner represents meaningful reform but it is merely a beginning in the change our state demands. In the weeks and months ahead, we stand united as members of the BIPOC Caucus and as Democrats in our commitment to continue advancing bold measures and effect change that will make Oregon a better place for all.”

One thing is clear, the rioters are still calling the shots with the majority leadership. As we work to better all lives, let’s not forget that dignity comes with effort and equality comes by equal opportunity.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-01-05 09:35:25Last Update: 2021-01-05 13:21:48

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