…replace it with” Mexican.” You’ll get a pretty accurate map of racism in the whitest city in America.
It’s kind of hard when you come to Portland, especially if you pass as white, to get a real feel for just how racist we can be here. Everybody’s so accepting and nice. We’re good to our LGBT population, no reasonable person would fly a confederate flag, nobody in city government would dare say a slur, or be caught defending racist policies.
It’s almost like it’s an accident that black and Latino people earn less than half or nearly half of what white Portlanders earn, or that they never seem to integrate into white neighborhoods (it’s not), and that we currently have this issue where Black Portlanders especially are being priced out of the small sections of the city they have historically occupied in order to make room for affluent white people.
It’s really not okay to hate on minorities here. Everywhere I go, white Portlanders are really concerned about racism. These situations bother them even as they fail to change. But it is okay to hate on Californians, and it is definitely okay to identify as a “real Oregonian,” either by birth, or even more classily by generational occupancy. I recently overheard a coffee shop conversation that went like this
Person A: My family has been here forever. We’re original. Since the beginning.
Person B: So you’re Native American?
Person A: Oh no, nothing like that. We came on the Mayflower.
Oh no, nothing like that.
Because it’s totally natural to refer to yourself as “original” while completely ignoring and/or forgetting the actual original people who still languish on reservations all over the state.
The idea of the Californian, this less intelligent, less enlightened menace coming up from the south with an unrealistic work ethic and a threatening and new culture fits right into the racist narrative no one in Oregon is allowed to express otherwise. The fear of the other. We’re different from them. We talk different, we have weird foods (seriously, where the fuck is the Sushi?!) we don’t make sense, and we’re here for your jobs.
So, next time you hear an Oregonian bitch about all the Californians ruining their pristine state, shitting all over their traditional way of life, read between the lines.
Thanks to Dave for pointing that out.
Editor’s Note: And yeah, most of us California transplants left that terrible crap hole for a reason. Same as all immigrants. We came here for a better way of life, and we don’t give a shit about your disapproval because no amount of dirty looks or shitty passive aggressive comments is as bad as living in California. Also, we’re all just saying we’re from Bend now. No one from Portland actually really knows what Bend was like in the 80s, so we’re good.
Point of Clarification: There’s been lots of discussion over on Facebook. When I say replace “Californian” with Mexican, I didn’t mean that Oregonians are actually referring to Mexicans when they talk about Californians. More like Californian is to smoke like Mexican is to fire. It’s the dye you drop in a river in order to identify current patterns. Racism comes from the fear of the other and is predicated by scarcity or perceived scarcity (e.g. they’re taking our jobs). This doesn’t mean that everybody who says they hate Californians is automatically a racist, but that it’s a culturally acceptable expression of the kind of generalizing that would be unacceptable for a white Oregonian to say about any other population.