Clackamas County leaders hear public testimony on racism

Clackamas County

Community members shared their personal experiences with commissioners during a virtual listening session

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — People in Clackamas County spoke openly with commissioners about personal experiences with racism during a listening session hosted by the county Wednesday night.

The session was moderated by the county’s inclusion officer. It was held two months after Clackamas County commissioners passed a resolution condemning violence and racism and vowing to examine ways to remove equality barriers for all people of color.

A local mother shared an account of racism at Gladstone High School against her bi-racial daughter, saying that “she was called the N-word in the first week of school.” The mother was one of several people who joined the virtual townhall to share personal stories about racism directed a people of color in Clackamas County.

Others said they’ve witnessed racism in their neighborhoods, in schools and in the streets. Some said they’ve known people of color who have moved away to escape racism.

Before the session wrapped up, Commissioner Paul Salvas shared his own experience on growing up as a person of color.

“I’m the oldest of seven brothers and sisters and I had to defend my brothers and sisters, especially those who were darker than I was,” he said.

County Chair Jim Bernard promised that in his last four-and-a-half months in office he will continue to work to ensure everyone in Clackamas County feels equal and safe.

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