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Spring 2017
Walking, talking,
and remembering

The limits of sanctuary

of immigrants in Oregon

What refugees
bring with them

Changing a hairstyle
to find oneself

2 Oregon Humanities

Oregon Humanities (ISSN edit or edit or i a l a dv is ory

Kathleen Holt b oa r d
2333-5513) is published trian-
Debra Gwartney
nually by Oregon Humanities,
a rt di r ect or Julia Heydon
921 SW Washington St., Suite Jen Wick Guy Maynard
150, Portland, Oregon 97205. Win McCormack
We welcome letters from a s sista n t edit or s Greg Netzer
readers. If you would like to Eloise Holland Camela Raymond
submit a letter for consider- Ben Waterhouse Kate Sage
ation, please send it to the Rich Wandschneider
com m u n icat ions Dave Weich
editor at k.holt@oregon- a s sista n t or to the Matt Yurdana
Julia Withers
address listed above. Letters
may be edited for space or cop y edit or
clarity. Allison Dubinsky
Oregon Humanities is
provided free to Oregonians.
To join our mailing list, email
org, visit oregonhumanities.
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3 Spring 2017

Departments Features: Carry

4 12 28
Editors Note Walk On Shouldering Homelessness
by m a rt y h ugh l e y by va n e s s a hou k
An innovative program In Southern Oregon, the
connects physical activity lack of affordable housing
Field Work
and memory to improve edges out a growing number
We Call This Home
the health of communities of people.
conversation series Race
affected by change.
Toolkit Project OH News
Humanity in Perspective 32
18 Good Hair
graduate Talking About Dying
OH Public Program Grants Sanctuary in Name Only by k i m be r ly m e lt on
by e l l io t t you ng Going natural despite family
Undocumented Oregonians are and societal expectations
From the Director only as safe as the policies that
protect them. 36
22 by rya n st rou d
What They Carried Lessons about mens and
Readers write about Carry
by ca i t l i n dw y e r a n d womens work divide a boy
k i m oa n h ngu y en from his community.
The things four refugees
Read. Talk. Think.
brought with them when they
Things that make you say O.
came to Oregon
Hm. from OH people and
programs, and new books by
Oregon authors

Connecting Lines at the Center
for Contemporary Native Art
at the Portland Art Museum

4 Oregon Humanities

Editors Note

When to Carry

M Y H USBA N D A N D I CELEBR ATED OU R N IN E- a couple has traveled together. Over dinner, we easily fell into
teenth wedding anniversary in March at a fancy, reminiscing about our first years of dating, talking about the
overpriced restaurant. We had each been in the middle of a people wed been then and also the people wed known, many of
months-long period of work projects and deadlines that had bled whom we were no longer in regular contact with. We wondered
into our home lives and brought into our relationship short tem- aloud about when to leave the past alone and intact, and when to
pers and perfunctory communications that primarily involved bring it forward into the present, no matter the hard work and
logistics of transport, finances, and commerce. Our moods over discomfort that reconciliation would bring.
dinner that evening were mild, which was better than flared. After dinner, he checked the score of the Oregon Ducks game:
Our small talk was polite, which was better than snide. And Theyre up by eleven. One thing that has always bonded us, well
though expensive, the food was okay. before kids and marriage and grown-up jobs and midlife con-
These are the concessions I find myself making more and cessions, is basketball. We quickly threw aside movie plans and
more in midlife: mild moods, polite talk, okay food. raced to find a bar where the game was on.
Earlier that week, wed had a bitter disagreement: my hus- As we watched the team advance to the Final Four, the air
band had made a passing remark about women that he meant around us changed, became more generous. Sitting in that dark
as a joke but that I found insulting. I told him so and I told him bar, cushioned by the comforting buzz of strangers around us,
why. I was unemotional, clear-eyed, and direct; the offense was we talked about the difficult week wed had. We listened closely
something I might have overlooked even months ago, before to each others thoughts about the power of language to hurt and
everything in the news seemed so serious, so potentially dev- heal, the daily trauma of discrimination, the need for solidarity
astating to so many. We picked up the conversation a couple instead of sympathy.
of hours later and it went badly: I was insistent and unsympa- Who bears the responsibility of moving forward when things
thetic; he was defensive and irritated. seem stuck, of pushing toward growth and understanding even
Then, later that week, we were talking with friends, and when it would be easier to sidestep or let go? It falls to me, it falls
everyone expressed shock and doubt that there was neo-Nazi to him, it falls to any of us on any given night. That particular
activity in our Southeast Portland neighborhood. Having been night, I was grateful to be swept up in the generosity created by
the target of racist comments over the years, I bristled but said the win and the joyous crowd. It opened me to see the value of
nothing, both because I was exhausted with calling out every our shared past in Eugene when we were a small part of a great
insult and insensitivity I encountered, and also because I mass of people in Mac Court who believed our cheers and taunts,
didnt want to add to the tension and discomfort that had been our collective energy and optimism, could change the outcome
seeping steadily into our home that week. of a too-close-to-call game.
Thankfully, anniversaries have a general design that k at h l een holt, Editor
includes looking back and reflecting on the figurative distance


This issue's cover is a photograph by Kim A high-resolution digital image (300 dpi Please consider the constraints of a
Oanh Nguyen, which is part of the series she at 8 x 10; scans or photographs, JPEG magazine cover (e.g., vertical orientation,
shot for "What They Carried" (page 22). or TIFF) nameplate, and cover lines). We are most
If youre an artist and have work that we Your name, the title of the work, the type interested in works by Oregon-based artists.
might consider for the Summer 2017 issue, of media, as well as contact information Submissions can be sent to
on the theme Claim wed love to know (email and phone number) or by post
about it. Please familiarize yourself with our Description of the relationship of the to Oregon Humanities magazine,
publication (back issues viewable online at image to the theme 921 SW Washington St., Suite 150,, then send us the Portland, OR 97205.
following by July 5, 2017:
5 Spring 2017



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6 Oregon Humanities

Field Work

Rhea Combs

The Meaning of Home

of the National
Museum of The series, which launched in January, is pre-
African American
A new conversation series looks at the far-reaching sented by the Portland Housing Center (PHC),
History and
effects of Portlands housing crisis. the Agora Journalism Center at the University
Culture at a
of Oregon School of Journalism and Commu-

We Call This
Home event in I K E M A N Y W E S T C OA S T C I T I E S , P ORT L A N D I S I N nication, City Club of Portland, EcoNorthwest,
January 2017 the grips of a housing crisis. Rapid population growth, a Neighborhood Partnerships, North Star Civic
shortage of houses and apartments, and skyrocketing rents and Foundation, and Oregon Humanities.
home prices are forcing many Portlanders to scramble to keep Felicia Tripp, deputy director of PHC, says,
roofs over their heads. And according to the US Department of Portland Housing Center has helped low-
Housing and Urban Development, almost four thousand people income families save and get ready to buy homes
are experiencing homelessness in Multnomah County. in Portland for twenty-five years. But in the last
A new, yearlong series of public conversations called We Call few years this dream has become totally out of
This Home seeks to expand the discussion about the housing reach. The cost of a first-time home is too high.
crisis to include broader issues of wealth disparity, race, and And what does that mean for our citywill only
home ownership in the region. wealthy and white people be able to live here?
7 Spring 2017

One of the first We Call This Home events, director of North Star Civic Foundation and one of the organiz-
an Oregon Humanities Think & Drink con- ers of We Call This Home.
versation with Rhea Combs of the Smithson- The wealth gap between the average white family and aver-
ian National Museum of African American age family of color is $500,000. That is basically the value of
History and Culture, Gwen Carr of Oregon a house. If our community cant address this inequity, I dont
Black Pioneers, and Melissa Lowery, direc- think we make much progress in overcoming our history of
tor of the documentaryBlack Girl in Suburbia, inequality, period.
explored the effects of discriminatory housing Upcoming We Call This Home conversations presented with
policies and wealth inequality on identity and City Club of Portland, Oregon Humanities, and Literary Arts
belonging in Oregons Black communities. will dig further into inequality in the region, the effects of rising
Theres a quote on the wall at the [National unaffordability for families and communities, and the future of
Museum of African American History and Portlands urban development. The series will continue through
Culture] by Maya Angelou that says everyone July 14, concluding with a conference for housing and home-
longs for that place and that space where they ownership advocates, urban planning professionals, and elected
can feel safe and not feel questioned, Combs, a leaders to explore desired outcomes for the region.
former Portland resident who now curates film Visit to learn more about
and photography for the museum, said at the the series and to see maps that illustrate how affordable homes
event. For some people that may be church, or have receded from the center of the Portland metro region
it may be as simple as being able to know where between 2000 and 2015.
to get your hair done. These are the things that BEN WATERHOUSE
allow people to feel that they are not being
questioned and that they belong.
Lowery, who grew up in the Clackamas
County suburb of West Linn, said that sense Healing the Divide
of belonging has become harder to come by Talking about race in Southern Oregon
in Portland.
The difference between the 80s and now
is that then there was a community of Black
people. Everybody lived in Northeast, she
published an open letter decrying racially motivated vio-
lenceincluding a verbal assault and a death threatdirected
said. Now, not so much. You have to go to the at the theater companys employees. In January, a Medford man
Numbers, you have to go to Vancouver, you was arrested for posting pro-Nazi flyers around Ashland. In the
have to go over to the West Side. Were spread wake of these incidents and others, many Southern Oregon resi-
out. (The Numbers refers to neighborhoods dents are finding it more important than ever to have frank con-
of Portland and Gresham east of I-205.) versations about race.
A significant cause of the scattering Lowery In response, the Racial Equity Coalition of Southern Oregon
describes is the cost of housing. The crisis of and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival hosted two public events in
unaffordability disproportionately affects peo- Ashland in July and August titled Unpacking Racism; together,
ple of color, says Caitlin Baggott, the executive more than 450 people attended the events. Alma Rosa Alvarez,

2017 PUBLIC their grant-funded projects, visit National Alliance for Mental Resolutions Northwest
PROGRAM GRANTS Illness Multnomah (Portland); $3,000
(Portland); $3,000
Crook County Foundation
This February, the Oregon RiverStars Performing Arts
Newspace Center for (Prineville); $3,500
Humanities board of directors (Cave Junction); $6,000
Photography (Portland);
awarded $60,000 in grants to Oregon Black Pioneers
Boom Arts (Portland); $5,625 $2,000
thirteen nonprofit organizations (Salem); $5,000
from around the state. These The City Repair Project Oregon Jewish Museum
Willamette Heritage Center
grants will support programs (Portland); $5,025 & Center for Holocaust
(Salem); $4,000
that bring people together to Education (Portland);
Columbia Slough Watershed
$4,750 PLAYA (Summer Lake);
think and talk about challenging Council and Historic
issues and ideas. To learn about Parkrose Neighborhood Portland Playhouse (Portland);
the organizations listed below Prosperity Initiative $3,000
(listed alphabetically by city) and (Portland); $9,100
8 Oregon Humanities

Even though we knew there would be

difficult moments, we were all willing to be
there with each other and move forward.


A workshop
on using Racial a cofounder of the Racial Equity Coalition, says, The audience More than three-quarters of attendees
Equity Coalition's
numbers showed that there are a lot of people who care, are inter- from the February workshop committed to
Race Toolkit
in Medford in
ested in following up, and are hungry for something more. hosting their own conversations about race
February 2017 The Racial Equity Coalition is responding to that need with using the toolkit. Reynolds was one of them.
the Race Toolkit Project, which aims to provide entry points His schools particular focus this year on the
to conversations about race with a set of discussion aids and a values of trust, decency, and kindness is a fit-
series of workshops that train participants in how to use the ting way to connect discussions about race,
toolkit with others. The toolkit contains tips on how to frame and he plans to share the toolkit with all of his
the conversation, five films, a question game, a spinner with coworkers and students.
discussion questions, and a bookmark with resources. The first The race toolkit speaks to gaining trust in
workshop took place in February in Medford. the community that youre in from a racial per-
In each workshop, trained facilitators use the toolkit with spective, Reynolds says. I saw a strong con-
participants in small groups and talk through their chal- nection to our curriculum and values, and the
lenges and questions. At the February event, sixty people came toolkit gave me a lot of ideas to build a sense of
together to discuss racemany of them for the first time. Par- trust throughout our campus. Reynolds hopes
ticipants included students, teachers, and community members. to work with Crater Renaissance Academy to
Alvarez says that participants left the workshop feeling hopeful, implement race conversations schoolwide.
and many wished for even longer, more in-depth conversations. The Racial Equity Coalition aims to dis-
Matthew Reynolds, who teaches drama and dance at Crater tribute three hundred toolkits in all. Alvarez
Renaissance Academy, a public high school in Central Point, was hopes the program, made possible in part by
among those who participated. He says, Even though we knew an Oregon Humanities Responsive Program
there would be difficult moments, we were all willing to be there Grant, will encourage people to recognize the
with each other and move forward. often-unacknowledged histories of how we got
9 Spring 2017

where we are today, such as laws that excluded

Black people from living in Oregon.
Without having some of that knowledge, we
have a type of divisiveness, she says. If we can
begin incorporating those encouragements
into some of our histories, we can get moving
on healing the racial divide.

Life Lessons We're in this together.

Humanity in Perspective graduate says Demand for conversation across difference has never
education is about more than just writing
been higher. Your donation to Oregon Humanities
and reading.
bridges divides of opinion, belief, and background

forming his life when he joined Oregon
Humanities Humanity in Perspective class in
in every corner of the state. Make your one-time or
sustaining gift today at
Portland four years ago. Recently enrolled in
community college, he was pursuing a degree
after working twenty-five years in the bicycle MAKE A DONATION AND LE ARN MORE
industry. Away from work, hed spent the past
two decades as an activist, advocating around
bicycle and transportation issues.


CON V ER S ATION PROJ ECT Tomsethhas served on Les Schwab Tire R E SP ONSI V E PRO GR A M GR A N TS
Bring your community to talk about Centers board for more than thirty years. Oregon Humanities Responsive Pro-
important issues and ideas this summer. She chairs the Dorothy Schwab Educa- gram Grants support programs created
Through August 1, 2017, nonprofits and tional Foundation board and adminis- in response to timely issues or events
community groups may apply to host dis- ters the Echo Fund, which facilitates an that the applicant organization is quali-
cussions to be held between September exchange of creativity and empower- fied to help the public explore. Awards of
and December 2017. Visit oregonhuman- ment. She lives in Bend. up to $1,000 are made on a rolling basis to view the Conversation Project to nonprofit organizations and feder-
catalog and fill out a host application. STOR I E S A B OU T T H IS L A N D ally recognized tribes in Oregon. Visit
In Febr ua r y, Oregon Huma nities to learn more.
W EL COM E , J U L I E A N D DI A NA launched This Land, an online multi-
Were excited to work with two new media project that collects and connects FACI L ITATION T R A I N I NG
members of Oregon Humanities board stories about land, home, belonging, and Oregon Humanities trains discussion
of directors, who were elected to the identity by Oregons communities of facilitators to lead conversations about
boardin January. JulieJones Manningis color. The website uses film, words, maps, vital issues and ideas across differences,
vice president for marketing, public rela- photos, sounds, and graphics by artists beliefs, and backgrounds. These discus-
tions, andcommunity health promotion and writers of color to build a broader sions help build strong relationships
at Samaritan Health Services, a Corval- understanding of how policies and laws within organizations and among com-
lis-basedregional health system serving shape systems of power and land owner- munities. We are currently accepting
Linn, Benton, and Lincoln counties. In ship in Oregons past and present. Visit registrations for our final training of
2014, sheended a four-year term as the through the year on October 5 and 6, 2017. Visit
mayor of Corvallis, where she lives. Diana 2017 as more stories are published. to learn more.
10 Oregon Humanities

It was exhausting, he says. I would do the activist work on This year, thanks to the support of the WRG
the weekends and then go to work doing product development Foundation Fund of the Oregon Community
for bike companies during the week. Pretty much every time Id Foundation, Talking about Dying is returning for
take a job, Id get to a certain point where Id be training some- an additional thirty conversations between March
one who had a degree but no experience, who, within months, and October 2017.
would be making more money and have more responsibility Annie Kaffen, program and special initiatives
than I did. He decided it was time for a change. manager for Oregon Humanities, says this years
Humanity in Perspective, a free college humanities course conversations will build on the success of the
for adults who face financial barriers to continuing their educa- 2015 series.
tion, gave Martin what he calls the luxury to read, write, and The tremendous response to Talking about
think with other students in a way that wasnt always available Dying shows that many Oregonians are eager to
to him, even in his community college classes. While the texts talk and learn together about end-of-life issues.
were powerful and his writing improved over the course, he says We are so grateful to be able to present more of
the most valuable thing he took from the experience was hear- these conversations in communities all over Ore-
ing the perspectives of his classmates. gon this year.
To be able to read, reflect, and discuss with people who come More than seven hundred people participated
from a completely different background from you, its eye-open- in Talking about Dying conversations in 2015. They
ing, he says. And being able to say what you think in an envi- came from all over the state, representing twenty-
ronment like that, it takes courage. Its important to be unafraid four Oregon counties. They came because they were
to look at stuff from a different perspective. grieving the death of a loved one; because they were
Its a lesson hes taken with him as hes earned his associ- living with a terminal illness or caring for a fam-
ate and bachelors degrees and launched a career that marries ily member with a terminal illness; because they
his two passionsbicycles and advocacy. As program director worked in end-of-life care; because they felt it was
for Rosewood Bikes, a program of the Rosewood Initiative in time to make their own end-of-life plans; because
Southeast Portland that offers tools, training, and low-cost they wanted to hear the perspectives and ideas of
repair services to community members, Martin puts his years other members of their community.
of bicycle industry and activist experience to use, along with his Facilitators trained by Oregon Humanities led
understanding of how important it is to see things from differ- each discussion, using poems, songs, and other
ent points of view. prompts to spark wide-ranging conversations
Part of his job is to listen to community members about what touching on grief, faith, quality of life, and many
tools they need to fulfill the community-building mission of the other subjects.
organization. Theres a curiosity I have about the neighbor- One participant in La Grande wrote, Here
hood I work in, he says. Im willing to listen to people more. were people talking about pretty intimate experi-
Humanity in Perspective had an impact on that. Its part of the ences and feelings to others who were essentially
path that led me here. strangers. They were vulnerable, but because of
Oregon Humanities is currently recruiting students for the the way the program was designed and conducted,
201718 Humanity in Perspective course. Learn more at oregon- I did not hear a single comment that was disre- spectful or critical.
ELOISE HOLLAND Oregon Humanities is actively looking for com-
munity organizations to host Talking about Dying
conversations in 2017. Information for hosts can
be found at Some conver-
Talking about Dying Returns sations have already been scheduled; times and
Oregon Humanities will present conversations on end- other details are available on our online calendar.
of-life issues around the state in 2017. BEN WATERHOUSE


in small groups in public libraries from Bandon to Baker
City to talk together about death and dying. These gatherings
Want to keep up with the
humanities in Oregon?
thirty-eight of them, all toldwere part of Talking about Dying,
Visit to sign up for our
a series of facilitated community conversations presented monthly enewsletter
by Oregon Humanities that aimed to create opportunities to Like us on Facebook
reflect on what stories and influences shape our thinking about Follow us on Twitter
death and dying.
11 Spring 2017 F ROM TH E DI R ECTOR

The idea of insurmountable

difference between people feels
both unhelpful and false.

on the downhill side of the trail. Then, without looking at me or

saying a word, he walked on.
In this season of heightened attention to dividesurban
and rural, blue and red, brown and black and whiteIve been
thinking a lot about Ken and the many other people I came to
know during my seasons in the woods in Wyoming, Washington,
Alaska, and Oregon. Ive been thinking about our truck rides
and our work and the conversation we sharedthe words we
used and the way we used them, the smiling digs we took at each
other, the many things we did not say.

Looking back on that summerand on almost every job Ive

had before and sinceI see that I and the people I worked with
were often poking at and trying to understand what we shared

What We Share and how we were different. Ive always felt more or less like an
imposteras though I dont really belong, as though Im differ-
ent in some significant way from the people Im with. Until these
A DA M DAV IS last few months, the feeling has generally stayed there, at the
level of differences, some of them sometimes quite serious. But
now, for reasons I think I understand but have yet to accept, it

a failing Volkswagen Fox west from Chicago to Wyoming,
for the first of many seasonal jobs with the US Forest Service. I
feels like Im supposed to see more than that. Im supposed to
see and believe in divides.
Compared to difference, divide feels fixed, a given. How fool-
worked most of that summer on a three-person crew in the back- ish it would be to deny it or try to change it. Divide suggests can-
country two hours north of the town of Kemmerer, maintaining yon, chasm, unbridgeable gulf.
trails and occasionally fighting fire. And for a few weeks, I worked But I dont think I buy it, the way divided now seems not
closer to town, on shorter projects, as part of a larger crew. only to describe our situation but also to serve as an immutable
The larger crew included two brothers who had grown up sentence. I buy the evidence of significant differences because
nearby. They were slightly older but seemed to me to be men in Ive read The Big Sort and the articles on who watches Duck
a way I would never be. They were big and dipped tobacco and Dynasty and Modern Family, Fox News and MSNBC. But the idea
handled tools and pickup trucks without pause. The six of us of insurmountable difference between people, insurmountable
on the crew rode in one truck flank to flank, three to a row, in separation between communities of people, feels both unhelpful
the cool early mornings and the sundrenched late afternoons. and, despite not having the research to back me up, false.
Sometimes we stared out the window, sometimes we talked This brings me back to a second moment I clearly remember
smack, and sometimes we got into it. I believe the rest of the from the summer I worked with Ken. Six of us had been at it for
crew found me strange and lacking and maybe in some way a couple of hours, and the cool air was just beginning to burn off.
threatening in a way that neither they nor I could have named. We were lined up along a graying wooden fence, easing into our
I clearly remember one moment involving the older of the coffee break. Ken pulled from his bag a double-sized tin of kip-
brothers, Ken, who had dark hair and a dark mustache. The pered snacks and a quart of milk. He rapidly downed all twelve
moment came toward the beginning of the summer, when I had of the fish and then tilted the tin to his mouth to drink the oil the
been hacking with a double-bit ax at an obtrusive root in the fish had been packed in. Without pausing, he went straight from
middle of the trail. The harder I swung, the less the root seemed the tin of oil to the full quart of milk, which he also drained. It
to respond. I had thought I was alone in my futility but then Ken was a remarkable display, and he knew we were all watching.
was suddenly there at my back telling me to step aside. He took When he had swallowed that last drop of milk, he belched prodi-
one swing with his axa swing that looked casual to meand a giously and proclaimed, with a smile on his face, Thatll make a
huge chunk of the root, the just-right chunk, flew into the brush turd. And we all laughed.
12 Oregon Humanities

Walk On
An innovative program connects
physical activity and memory
to improve the health
of Portland communities affected by change.




afternoon that, for once, is only partly cloudy,
Thelma Diggs and Bennie Hill meet in North Port-
area they knew for decades as the core of Black life
in Portland has undergone rapid, radical change,
most obviously in its built environmenton each
land for a little constitutional. Starting near the New block, the womens conversation is peppered with
Seasons grocery store on North Williams Avenue, the another variation on the And this used to be
two women stroll through a hip district of restaurants, refrainbut also in its demography and culture.
eclectic boutiques, and modern-looking apartment A s they pass yet another razed lot, heavy machinery
buildings. Cars zip past and trucks rumble across their busy prepping it for construction, Hill lets out a laugh,
path at North Fremont Street, the noise competing with half-rueful, half-admiring, then exclaims, Its like a
the conversation. new city came and invaded!
Boy, this area sure has got a lot of traffic, Hill D iggs and Hill arent out to defend the old city
remarks. It wasnt like this when we were all coming against the new, but they are walking with a purpose,
up. This is really something. and they are trying to preserve something important
Diggs looks left and right up either side of Williams, their health, their memories, and the collective memory
at all the glass and steel, all the hustle of commerce. of a once-cohesive community that has become increas-
Twenty years ago this was all houses, lot of kids in the ingly scattered.
street playing, she recalls. But now, kids cant hardly The women are part of a research project called
cross the street. SHARP, which stands for Sharing History through
For these friends, both Black senior citizens, the Active Reminiscence and Photo-imagery. A pilot pro-
neighborhood is at once familiar and foreign. An gram created by the Oregon Healthy Brain Research
13 Spring 2017 Carry

Bennie Hill and

Thelma Diggs
(in hat) walk
through North
Portland on a
tour set up by
14 Oregon Humanities

Hill and Diggs read a prompt from the SHARP guide (below).
Raina Croff, an assistant professor at Oregon Health & Science
University, giving a presentation about the program in March at
Portland State University (right).

Network Collaborative Center at Oregon Health & As engaging as the community history aspect is, however,
Science University, SHARP aims to promote cog- Croff is well aware that, as she puts it, the health piece is what
nitive health among African Americans aged fifty- gets us the grant money. Shes trying to get a stronger sense of
five and over in Portland, using physical activity, how effective what she calls the triad for healthy aging can
social engagement, and the sharing of memories be when its promoted in a cohesiveand culturally relevant
and stories in conversation. way. We have lots of data on [the value of] physical activity,
The program is the brainchild, if you will, of especially walkingwalking is good for brain health. Remi-
Raina Croff, an assistant professor in the Depart- niscence is good for brain health. We have lots of stuff that says
ment of Neurology at OHSU. SHARP reflects social engagement is good for brain health. But we dont have
Croffs interest in medical anthropology, her ori- anything that puts all three together. Thats what makes this
entation toward qualitative rather than quantita- program unique.
tive research, and her experience growing up in And when you add on the layer of gentrification, you ask,
Portland, leaving for college, then returning to a how do neighborhood changes affect older adult health? Those
changed city. who still live here, are they motivated to get out and walk when
To be perfectly honest, this came out of my they no longer are walking to a business where they know the
love of history more than my scientific or neuro- owner, where they will see people that they know? Is the moti-
logical thinking, Croff says. Because Im not a vation to be healthy diminished when you no longer feel at
neurologist; I dont have a background in public home in your neighborhood?
health. As an African American in Portland, I On this February afternoon, Diggs and Hill (whose third
already was aware of what was happening to our walking partner, Karen Wells, was unavailable) are taking the
neighborhoods. But Im also a writer, and I love Fashion Walk, with photos and questions to get them reminisc-
stories, and Ive always been fascinated by older ing about such things as the fashion shows Ebony magazine used
adults and the stories they tell. You can really call to stage at Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church. They dont
this a sort of urban archaeology thats entwined spend a lot of time examining the photos, but then, they dont
with oral history. need much of a nudge to get their recollections flowing.
15 Spring 2017 Carry

OK, here we go, were getting ready to walk, Diggs says, of Alzheimers disease and other dementias than
partly to Hill and partly to the little digital audio recorder shes the national average. Yet research also has shown
holding. Were at NE Fargo and Williams, were going north on that African Americans mistakenly believe theyre
Williams Ave. and our first prompt is about fashion. What was at lower risk of such diseases. Furthermore, Croff
your favorite style in the 70s? says, many African Americans see memory loss
Hill doesnt miss a beat. The Afro! I liked that Afro lookpoofy and other cognitive decline as simply part and
hair, bell-bottoms. parcel of growing older. It isnt, she insists. Its a
Especially bell-bottoms, Diggs agrees. I loved that bell-bot- pathology, and a preventable one.
tom look, cause I was tall. When did she stop wearing them? I Preserve Coalition also led Croff to valu-
think I still have some! Never throw anything away, I saythats able mentorsJeffrey Kaye and Linda Boise of
why my house is the way it is. OHSUs Layton Aging & Alzheimers Disease
Center, who got her interested in neurology and
You might locate the origins of this novel research project in helped her shape the concept for what came to be
Croffs days hanging out in Northeast Portland as a student at the SHARP program.
Grant High School. But a more important starting point is the In groups of three, SHARP participants walk
island of Gore, which, though it sits just off Senegals Atlantic three times a week along one of seventy-two routes
coast, is a district of the capital city, Dakar. Thats where Croff in North and inner Northeast Portland that Croff
led an archaeological excavation more than a decade ago as part has devised. Each route is roughly a mile long, and
of her doctoral research into African, female slave owners and has a theme linked to landmarks and supplemen-
their African, female servants. Her mother had dreamed of tal historical photos that Croff acquired from the
being an archaeologist, and Croff absorbed that same passion archives at the City of Portland, OHSU, the Bonn-
early on. I was directing that dig, thinking that was my lifes eville Power Administration, and especially the
path, to do African diaspora archaeology, she says. Verdell A. Burdine & Otto G. Rutherford Family
Among the digs discoveries were three child skeletons. Croff Collection at Portland State University. Walkers
began examining the bones for indentation and other signs, try- carry a computer tablet, and at three predeter-
ing to trace the effects of nutrition, social status, and maternal mined spots on each route, GPS technology trig-
health. Using a medical and anthropological framework to gers a photo and related questions to pop up.
understand how culture affects health was a through line that
brought her home. OHSU was conducting substance-abuse This was a fun place to go, Hill says, excited
research through a department that focuses on public health at the sight of what was once Cleos, a storied Black
and preventive medicine. That totally wasnt my areaexcept nightclub near Williams Avenue and Monroe Street.
that they were doing studies with American Indian and Alaskan Theyd give you a real good drink! They used to have
Native treatment centers about how evidence-based medicine gambling upstairscraps.
was being integrated with traditional healing practices, she It was a private clubif the owner didnt know
says. So I did qualitative research, conducting interviews. And you, he would not let you in, Diggs adds. He ran
that came naturally to me, talking the language of culture. it pretty well. They say he kept his protection in
I was in the world of medical anthropology, but it hadnt his pocket.
quite clicked with what Im passionate about, she says. Now the building is occupied by a relocation
Then she met up with a group of academics, community service, with signs in the windows advertising half-
members, retired health-care workers, and older African Amer- million-dollar houses.
icans called the Preserve Coalition. The group works with the
Alzheimers Association, the Urban League, and others to hold The pilot program that Diggs and Hill are part
events exploring brain health from an Afrocentric perspective. of is a feasibility study, funded by the Centers for
We look at things that can help us to age healthfully but that Disease Control and Prevention, which began in
celebrate our heritage and culture, she says. We learn about February 2016. The idea was for the program to
cooking healthy soul food, we do tai chi with an African Ameri- take six months, but late recruitment of partici-
can instructor, weve had a demonstration of African dance for pants and then an inhospitable winter dragged
older people. out the process for some, such as Diggs, Hill, and
Croff calls this group the key to the story. Through the Wells. All the same, the first go-round was suc-
group, Croff learned that African Americans have higher rates cessful enough that Croff landed a grant from the
16 Oregon Humanities

They understand that

and hope. Its stories that get someone to want to join a research
change happens, but theyd project. Theyll ask, What does this help? Not, What numbers
will this generate? but How will this improve the quality of
like to be a part of that someones life? And even better, tell me a story about what that
quality looks like. And when we think about how environment
change a little bit more. shapes our lives, our health, our selves, what happens when our
neighborhoods change shape? How does that change us?

And theyd like the new Now, this is the street I used to live on when I first came to
Portland, a house just down the street, Diggs says when she
people to recognize the and Hill cross North Failing Street. And all of this was busi-
nesses. No restaurants like you see now, but a hardware store,
history that was here. So a lumber store and I think this used to be a service station on
the corner. And a lot of these businesses were owned by Blacks,
many people talk about but a lot of times theyd try to get loans to fix up the property and
they couldnt get a loan, or you couldnt get enough to do what
how theyve revitalized this you needed to do. My ex-husband, he got a loan, but he asked for
twenty-five thousand and they would only give him ten.
neighborhoodwell, there Croff is trying to balance the scientific and the social, to

was already vitality in it. address measurable, diagnosable issues of cognitive health
within a vulnerable population while also making room for the
complicated, at times amorphous day-to-day context of the lives
in question. Part of her point is that there shouldnt be any dis-
connect between the two.
And maybe theres a way for the project to also promote a
Alzheimers Association in February 2017 to con- different understanding among newcomersand between new
duct a second phase, which she hopes to start up neighbors and oldabout their role in the creation of experience
in May. The initial group consisted of folks over and memory for the people whove been in the neighborhood
fifty-five who were all in good cognitive health. historically over the past several decades.
For the next phase, Croff plans to have seven of People [new to the neighborhood] dont see themselves,
the twenty-one participants be individuals whose individually, as the problem, she says. Its a place close to
assessments show some mild cognitive impair- their work, or a friend recommended it or whatever. But the
ment. She hopes the program can demonstrate people who raised families, who had multigenerational roots
tangible improvements for such individuals and is here, they really just want acknowledgment, they want to be
looking at ways to make the program scalable and recognized for the positive, active, alive culture that was here
replicable for other communities. and is here. We dont want the 90s gang violence to be the
Participants took health surveys upon start- tombstone to the Black neighborhood and culture in Portland,
ing the program and again at completion, and and or to have people just thinking, Thank god these new res-
the computer app provides data on whos walk- taurants saved the area. What Ive heard from participants is
ing, when, and how fast. The by-product of remi- that they understand that change happens, but theyd like to be
niscencethe memory workis an archive of a part of that change a little bit more. And theyd like the new
the recorded conversations. Croff hopes these people to recognize the history that was here. So many people
recordings can be used by other researchers or talk about how theyve revitalized this neighborhoodwell,
turned into the basis of community workshops on there was already vitality in it.
the links between cognitive health and the health One thing some participants have said is that this project
of the community. They could also potentially be makes them feel visible, whereas gentrification has made them
edited into an oral history that could serve as part feel invisible. Can you imagine being an older adult, walking
of a school curriculum. around the place that youre from and people are looking at you
The numbers dont explain everything, Croff like, What are you doing here? Weve seen people talk about
says. Its the stories that drive someone to be pas- this as an emotional healing process. Something about the pace,
sionate about something. Stories give purpose walking with friends, talking about changes while youre in the
17 Spring 2017 Carry

landscape that has been changedit can be maddening, but its a Most of these houses, Im sure the folks have
slow healing process as well. We dont want this to be the Angry been asked several times to sell their property,
Study; but we are not blocking those feelings or putting any sort Diggs says, looking around at some of the remain-
of filter on it. ing weathered, preWorld War II bungalows along
In early March, Croff gave a presentation about the SHARP North Vancouver Avenue. A lot of out-of-town
program at PSUs Urban Center and included a quote from one peoplefrom California, and Ive seen license plates
of the voice recordings shes collected: from as far away as Delaware and Massachusetts
a lot of people come out for vacation and like the area,
One of the things that I think [this walking program] is and their parents have the money and buy the homes
helping me do is adjust to the changes. And its helping me be for their kids and as an investment. About once a
face-to-face with the fact that things are changing so much. month I get a request to sell my home. They put it in
Theyre changing so fast, and not just our neighborhoods, but the mail; I just mark it as return to sender. If I sell it
people. You know, peoples thoughts and ideas are changing. to you, where Im gonna live?
Weve grown older. And so, how are we going to deal with this
change in a healthy manner and not be angry all the time? Finding something healthful and helpful to do
Because anger brings stress. Stress causes illness. And were seems to be part of how Diggs and Hill cope with
trying to feel better. You know, we dont want to walk and the changes. Hill had to move farther east a few
then come back home and just be so full of anger and so upset: years ago when she found she couldnt keep up with
Did you see what they tore down now? the property taxes on her home. She now shares an
Its helping me. Its helping me to find a healthy way to apartment with a friend and volunteers part-time
respond. Its like, OK, now what are you going to do about it? at a senior center. Diggs still lives nearby and is
What are you going to do about it? Who are you going to share active in the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.
these stories with? Who are you going to encourage to not let The two were friends before joining Croffs pro-
everything go away? What kind of volunteering are you going gram, but made a new friend in Wells, their usual
to do thats healthy, rather than protest everything? What third walker.
are we going to do that is beneficial and healthy? Theyre not inured to the mixed emotions all
the change around them can create. I kind of feel
envious, Hill says about how spiffed up things are.
Its like, Wow. All this possibility and we didnt
have it. It kinda makes me feel cheated.
And yet they keep walking. And they keep rev-
eling in that and the pleasure of being where they
feel they should be, carrying a precious, vital past
forward with them.
Its really good to walk and feel relaxed and
energized and be yourself around women whove
had a culture similar to yours, Hill says. All of
us need encouragement, to be trained for and be
steered toward staying healthy. So if you can do
whatever you can to prevent a decline in your abil-
ity to communicate or be a part of things, that is
worth whatever effort you put in. Hold on to what-
ever you can. Its better than sitting in a rocking
chair like they used to do, yknow?

Marty Hughley is a Portland freelance writer, Trail

Blazers fan, and cat supremacist. Formerly a pop
music and theater critic for the Oregonian, he now
writes for Oregon ArtsWatch and other outlets.

Tojo Andrianarivo is a freelance photographer and

graphic designer.
Hill and Diggs with writer Marty Hughley.
18 Oregon Humanities

School in mid-January, Senator Ron Wyden contrasted
his expectations of a Trump presidency with what he called the
butts up against its xenophobia. Voters were willing to challenge
the federal government on marijuana, but they were unwilling
to provide even the most basic kind of identificationrequired
Oregon way. As Wyden put it, In our state, were all about for opening a bank account or renting an apartmentto undocu-
bringing people together. Were about being inclusive and show- mented immigrants.
ing respect for one another. But is that really the Oregon way? Nonetheless, Oregons elected officials have almost univer-
Wydens homey multicultural vision of an inclusive state sally supported immigrant rights and the idea of sanctuary.
skates over a long and sordid history of racism and exclusion in Oregon has been at the forefront of sanctuary policies, which
Oregon. With a legacy including the exclusion of Black people have been adopted throughout the state by cities, counties,
from the state in the mid-nineteenth century, the prominence schools, colleges, churches, and police departments. Governor
of the KKK in the 1920s and of neo-Nazi skinheads in the 1980s Kate Brown, Portland City Council, sheriffs, school boards, and
and 90s, the 1887 massacre of Chinese gold miners in Hells Can- university presidents have all issued declarations indicating
yon, and the internment of Japanese Americans during World that they will do everything in their power to protect immi-
War II, Oregon has arguably not been so welcoming to Blacks, grants in Oregon from discrimination based on their status. As
Asians, and Latinos; Catholics and Jews; and immigrants. the Ashland Police Department put it in November, Oregon is
Oregonians seem to both love and hate immigrants. The a sanctuary state.
mythology of pioneers traversing the Oregon Trail to reach Eden The idea of sanctuary has moral weight, but what it means to
has baked a rich narrative of biblical proportions into the DNA lawyers, politicians, and the general public is not exactly clear.
of the state. At a January protest in Portlands Terry Schrunk Sanctuary originally developed as a medieval legal concept in
Plaza against Trumps executive order banning travelers from England, where churches could provide temporary sanctuary
seven Muslim-majority countries, a person held aloft a sign that for people accused of crimes. By the seventeenth century, as the
read: We Are All Immigrants. state expanded its authority, legal sanctuary ended, but the idea
And yet the 2014 referendum on whether undocumented of sanctuary as a moral norm persisted in the culture.
immigrants should be eligible for drivers licenses shows Orego- The sanctuary movement has been building in Oregon since
nians are divided over immigration. In that election, 66 percent 1987, when the state adopted a statute meant to disentangle Ore-
of voters rejected granting drivers licenses to undocumented gon from immigration enforcement by prohibiting the use of
immigrants, while in the same election 56 percent of them voted state resources for this purpose. In the 1980s, churches in Ore-
for legalizing pot. This is where Oregons famed libertarianism gon and across the country declared themselves sanctuaries for
19 Spring 2017 Carry

in Name Only
Undocumented Oregonians are only as
safe as the policies that protect them.

Central Americans fleeing violence in their countries. Although Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which prevents
the federal government charged and convicted some of the lead- them from sharing information about students without their
ers of that sanctuary movement with harboring and transport- consent, as a legal argument for why they could not cooperate
ing illegal aliens, their moral vision won the hearts and minds with the federal government.
of the general public, leading to Oregons sanctuary statute. In quick succession, mayors from cities across Oregon joined
Unlike sanctuary churches, sanctuary cities and schools in the sanctuary chorus. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler invoked
do not say they will violate the law. Rather, they draw clear a 150-year history of immigration to Oregon, including his own
lines between the responsibilities of federal immigration offi- familys trek on the Oregon Trail, in his statement on sanctu-
cers and the responsibilities of local and state police. Most ary cities. We are not going to run from that history. We will
sanctuary jurisdictions simply prevent local police and other not be complicit in the deportation of our neighbors. Under my
officials from inquiring about a persons immigration status. leadership as mayor, the City of Portland will remain a welcom-
Local sanctuary declarations cannot stop immigration offi- ing, safe place for all people regardless of immigration status.
cers from conducting raids or making arrests, but they can And in case that left any doubt in anyones mind about how Port-
make it harder for Immigration and Customs Enforcement land would respond to Trumps immigration policies, Wheeler
(ICE) to deport millions of immigrants. declared, We will not compromise our values as a city or as
The new sanctuary movement accelerated with Trumps Americans and will resist these policies.
election in November. In the immediate aftermath of the School boards in Portland and Eugene vowed to protect their
presidential election, students and faculty at over 180 colleges students to varying degrees and to put obstacles in the way of
gathered more than 150,000 signatures on petitions in favor of potential ICE raids. As Isaac Barrera, a 2016 North Eugene High
declaring their campuses as sanctuaries. Portland State Uni- School graduate, stated, This is about more than just a policy.
versity and Reed College were among the very first in the nation This is about human rights.
to explicitly declare themselves sanctuary campuses, with the On January 27, Trump issued his first executive order related
University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Portland Com- to immigration, banning all travel from seven Muslim-majority
munity College, and a host of other colleges following suit. countries and vastly expanding the definition of who he consid-
Not every school embraced the sanctuary term, but there was ers a criminal alien to encompass virtually all the undocu-
a growing consensus that in Oregon we would not cooperate mented. The country was thrown into chaos. Here in Oregon,
with federal immigration authorities unless ordered to do so by hundreds of people spontaneously protested at Portland Inter-
a court. Many schools also cited another federal law, the Family national Airport, carrying signs welcoming refugees and
20 Oregon Humanities

decrying the ban on Muslims. One woman went Latino-looking people. There have even been cases of under-
to the airport dressed as the Statue of Liberty to cover ICE agents stalking Latino people in the courthouse and
welcome the first family of Iraqi refugees to arrive following them outside of the building.
after federal court Judge James Robart in Seattle Although Trump has claimed that sanctuary cities are hot-
issued a nationwide temporary restraining order beds of crime, ananalysisby political scientist Tom Wong at
on Trumps executive order. the University of California, San Diego shows that sanctuary
Oregonians like to think of their state as a cities are much safer than their non-sanctuary counterparts.
haven for freethinkers, a place where maver- ICE arrests at sensitive locations like courthouses, schools, and
icks can go to live out their dreams under stately hospitals make our communities less safe.
Doug fir trees. From the Malheur Refuge occupa- Judge Nan Waller, who presides in Multnomah County,
tion to Death with Dignity and the legalization of criticized ICE arrests at the courthouse, arguing that such
pot, Oregonians have defended their local rights actions undermine the safety of the community. Our concern
against the power of the federal government. is there is a rise in fear that will keep people out of the court-
Although we may associate states rights with house who need to come into the courthouse for an eviction case
white Southerners defending slavery, Jim Crow, or a restraining order or a lawsuit that they are filing. Judge
and segregation, progressives have also employed Waller continued, We are encouraging ICE to see courthouses
local sovereignty as a bulwark against the federal as sensitive locations, and not to, to the extent possible, enter the
government. In the mid-nineteenth century, abo- courthouse to make arrests.
litionists deployed states rights arguments to Facing pressure from defense attorneys and immigrant
fight against the Fugitive Slave Act. As historian advocates, Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill
Eric Foner wrote in a recent article in the Nation, issued a statement that seems to disentangle the courts from
There is nothing inherently progressive about immigration enforcement: The Multnomah County District
federal power, and in some circumstances local Attorneys Office does not notify or alert immigration officials
self-government can become a bastion of resis- or agencies regarding individuals (witnesses, victims, or defen-
tance to reactionary national actions. dants) with whom we come into contact, Underhill wrote.
Oregons libertarian streak provides us with a However, once a person is arrested and processed, there are
powerful tool with which to fight for immigrant- multiple ways that ICE officials can learn about their presence,
inclusive policies at the state and local level against including perusing public dockets, referring to FBI databases
the power of an oppressive Trump administration. in which fingerprints of all arrestees are recorded, or by simply
Governor Kate Brown issued her own execu- calling a deputy sheriff and inquiring, which appears to have
tive order on February 2, expanding the scope of happened in late December in Multnomah County.
Oregons 1987 sanctuary statute. Under Browns The Oregon statute that prohibits the use of law enforcement
order, all state agencies are prevented from using resources for immigration cases contains a subsection that
moneys, equipment, or personnel for the purpose explicitly carves out an exemption for exchanging information
of detecting or apprehending persons whose only with ICE to verify the immigration status of a person if the per-
violation of law is that they are persons of foreign son is arrested for any criminal offense. What this means is that
citizenship present in the United States in viola- once a person has been arrested as a suspect in a crime, the ban
tion of federal immigration laws. This has been on exchanging information may be null and void. At the very
the strongest statement to date of disentangle- least, the clause suggests that there are circumstances in which
ment or noncooperation with federal immigra- state officers are allowed to communicate with ICE. Whats
tion authorities. Oregon, it seemed, was a robust more, the immigrant in question does not have to be convicted
sanctuary state. and they dont have to be accused of a felony. Any criminal
However, it quickly became clear that in spite offense, even a low-level misdemeanor, will do.
of the Oregon statute (ORS 181A.820) and sanctu- Governor Browns executive order expands the so-called
ary pronouncements from politicians, immigrants sanctuary statute to all state agencies, but the order says it is
were still vulnerable to deportation simply by not meant to violate state or federal laws. In particular, the order
showing up at a courthouse. ICE confirmed that refers to two 1996 federal statutes (8 USC 1373 and 1644) that
they arrested five immigrants at or near Mult- explicitly prohibit states from preventing their employees from
nomah County courthouses in January. Since sharing information with federal immigration agencies. There
November, even before Trump took office, ICE is an obvious contradiction between these federal statutes and
was trolling the courthouses and questioning Oregons law, but in twenty years the federal government has
21 Spring 2017 Carry

never tried to enforce its statutes. Under Trump, such a collision to deportation under Trumps expanded definition
between federal and state law seems all but inevitable. of criminal aliens.
Legal scholars have argued that the federal statutes are Biased policing places immigrants of color in
unconstitutional, but since they have never been tested in Oregon at even greater risk. A study of records in
court, the contradiction between the federal and state statutes Multnomah County by the Portland Tribune found
remains. On January 31, San Francisco sued the federal govern- egregious over-policingespecially for minor vio-
ment, claiming that Trumps executive order against sanctuary lationsof Latino communities, which make up
cities is a severe invasion of [its] sovereignty and that 1373 is the bulk of the undocumented population. The
unconstitutional on its face. Tribune found that in Oregon Latinos were eight
Juliet Stumpf, a professor of immigration law at Lewis & times as likely as whites to be charged with driv-
Clark Law School, argued that, in spite of the federal statutes, ing without a license. Even controlling for the esti-
federal law doesnt compel Oregon to allow employees to use mated number of undocumented residents who
public resourcesmoney, equipment, or personnel to provide cannot acquire a license, legal resident and citizen
information to ICE. Stumpf continued, If it did, it could run Latinos are twice as likely as whites to be stopped
headlong into the Tenth Amendments prohibition on federal for this offense.
commandeering of state resources. The very meaning of state Once immigrants, documented or undocu-
sovereignty is at issue in these arcane legal questions. mented, get caught up in the criminal justice
In the past few years, federal courts have consistently argued system, they are vulnerable to ICE deportation.
that counties that cooperate in the detention of immigrants at Whether ICE agents are in direct communica-
the request of ICE are in violation of Fourteenth Amendment due tion with law enforcement officers or simply
process protections and Fourth Amendment protections against hanging around the courts, questioning Latino-
unreasonable searches and seizures. Oregon used to honor ICE looking people, or scanning the dockets for Latino-
detainer requests to hold people in detention after they were sounding names, broken-windows policing of the
eligible for release until a federal judge held Clackamas County sort described by the Portland Tribune leads to
liable in 2014. As one legal analysis put it, Nearly every court to deportations.
address the federal governments immigration detainer practices Sanctuary is a meaningless designation unless
have [sic] found them to be illegaleither violating the immigra- tied to meaningful criminal justice reform. The
tion statute, or worse, violating the US Constitution. According current practice of broken-windows policing leads
to this view, the Oregon statute and Governor Browns executive to the deportation of scores of low-level immigrant
order are not violations of the law, but rather an attempt to get offenders. While we have next to no control over
Oregon on the right side of the US Constitution. State sovereignty federal immigration policy or Trumps erratic and
and the US Constitution are not at odds, even though the state badly planned executive orders, we can influence
may be in conflict with federal overreach. local police priorities.
What has become clear in the past few months is that sanctu- The only way to provide meaningful sanctu-
ary provides no protection to immigrants once they are caught ary in Oregon is by changing how we police our
up in the criminal justice system. An immigrant may live in a communities so that we focus on violent crimi-
sanctuary state with multiple sanctuary cities and sanctuary nals and stop arresting people for jaywalking or
schools and colleges, but city, county, and state authorities are spitting in public. If we do this, not only will we
helpless to prevent deportation once someone enters the system. help make Oregon welcoming for immigrants,
Although a lot of the sanctuary movements attention has but we will also help to end the national crisis
been focused on the so-called Dreamers, the 750,000 studious of mass incarceration.
Americanized youth who were brought to this country as chil-
dren and who have maintained a clean criminal record, there are
over 10 million other immigrants, some of whom have commit-
ted minor offenses, such as traffic violations or using false Social
Security cards, and some of whom were simply too old to qualify
for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA)
when it was implemented by the Obama administration in 2012. Elliott Young is a professor of history and director of ethnic
The rhetorical separation of the good immigrant from the studies at Lewis & Clark College. His latest book is Alien
Nation: Chinese Migration in the Americas from the Coolie
criminal immigrant dovetails with increasingly harsh polic-
Era through World War II (Chapel Hill: University of North
ing tactics that leave the vast majority of immigrants vulnerable Carolina Press, 2014).
22 Oregon Humanities

The things four refugees
brought with them when
they came to Oregon


Its an old-fashioned mortice key, dull silver. He keeps
it on his keychain next to the keys to his apartment and his Toy-
ota Camry. The mortice key opens his old house in Rwanda, a
place he left behind three years ago. But even that wasnt his real
house; his real house he abandoned suddenly, fearing for his life,
twenty-one years ago.
Roger fled the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire)
in 1996, running from militia massacres against ethnic Tutsi
like himself. Once he crossed the border into Rwanda, he lived
in Gihembe refugee camp, where more than fifteen thousand
Congolese refugees lived on a hundred acres. Roger spent his
adolescence in a home that was not his home: a claustrophobic
hillside clotted with red-mud walls and tin roofs. In his home
country, Roger knew to lock his doors against the militias, who
went door to door looking for Tutsi. In the camp, he protected
his familys few possessions with lock and key.
In 2014, Roger walked off the plane and onto the famous sea-
green carpet at Portland International Airport. In his pocket
was the key to his house in Gihembe. Roger is a soft-spoken man
with a brilliant, surprising smile. When he describes his reason
for bringing the key, he breaks into that shy smile. I kept it so Now he lives with his wife and children in an apartment in
when I get in this big house in US, I can remember how I lived, Gresham. He has a solid door that locks, couches, an oven, and a
he says. I brought it to remind me of how I used to unlock my job at a laundromat. But he carries the old silver key with him any-
small house in the camp. way, a reminder of where he came from and what he left behind.
23 Spring 2017 Carry

24 Oregon Humanities

She wasnt
sure if America
would have
proper agatete;
hers is bright
blue, flexible
plastic, strong
enough to
withstand a
toddlers grasp
or the weight of

a basket, her wedding cloth, and a
Like her husband, Roger, Solange spent
her teenage years as a refugee in Rwanda.
She married him in 2005, at age twenty-
two. That was her ninth year in the camp.
For their wedding, she received a brightly
colored kitenge cloth from her relatives to
make the traditional wrap dress reserved
for mothers. The bright oranges and blues
stood out in the muddy campgrounds.
Her first child was born in Gihembe
refugee camp. It was a tough place to live
as a young woman, but an even tougher
place to be a mother. Meals were maize and
beans handed out monthly by aid organi-
zations, with not enough protein to keep
children healthy. Because of poor nutri-
tion and sanitation, disease was common.
To get water, the women filled big plastic
jugs from a tap, but only at allotted times.
Solange endured it: even a decade
after leaving Congo, it still wasnt safe to
go back, she says. And the militias back
25 Spring 2017 Carry

home had taken their cattle, the tangi- A M M A R A BO N I DR C A R R I E D A C A L C U L AT OR A N D A PH O T O GR A PH

ble wealth of a Tutsi family, so they had of his nieces.
nothing to return to. It was the night before Eid al-Adha, the celebration of Abrahams sacrifice to
Solange calls her basket agatete. God, a time when families and neighbors get together to feast. Ammar was walk-
Balanced on the folds of kitenge cloth ing through his hometown of Baghdad to meet up with a friend. He had endured
wrapped around her head, it carried the war, graduated college, and was finally working in his dream job as a telecom-
extra food to her children. When some- munications engineer, traveling the country to set up cell towers.
one was sick with malaria, it carried A car pulled up alongside him on the street. A man rolled down the window
medicine. She wasnt sure if America and began asking about unfamiliar names. The back door cracked open. Ammar
would have proper agatete; hers is bright sensed something wrong; he pushed the door closed and ran. Bullets ricocheted
blue, flexible plastic, strong enough to off the buildings, narrowly missing him.
withstand a toddlers grasp or the weight He hid out with relatives, and as soon as a visa was ready, fled to Jordan. He
of groceries. Just in case, she brought it asked his mother to pack him a few things, including his scientific calculator:
with her on the plane. She still uses it for The calculator was part of me. I used it almost every day in my job, he says.
shopping at the Mexican grocery store Ammar worked retail in a Jordanian cell phone shop while he endured the
around the corner from her apartment. intensive two-to-three-year screening process necessary to come to the United
When Solange came to Oregon in States as a refugee. Then one day he received a call from his sister: his older
2014, she left behind her entire family: brother had been shot four times at the door of his house. Distraught, helpless,
her mother, two sisters, and two broth- Ammar tried to return to his family in Iraq, but his parents threatened never
ers. They are still in Gihembe, await- to speak to him again if he did: they had already lost one son and would not risk
ing visas, and she misses them deeply. losing another.
However, her Oregon family continues When he finally arrived in the United States in 2016, Ammar brought with
to grow: Solanges youngest daughter, him a photograph of his deceased brothers three children. He has never met the
Blessing, was the first of the family to be youngest, who was born after he left Iraq. He talks to his nieces twice a week on
born in the United States. Skype, feeling a responsibility to be both an uncle and a father from afar. And
he still has his calculator, a Casio FX-991ES Plus, which he hopes to use someday
as an engineer here in Oregon.
26 Oregon Humanities
27 Spring 2017 Carry

He loved stamps. He collected them in books
and was always on the lookout for interesting postage.
In the summer of 1991, he was working in Thimphu,
the capital city of Bhutan. His brother, who worked
at the post office, invited him to come take a look at
some new arrivals. Chhabi had just picked up a few
new stamps when a neighbor from his home village
told him his parents had fled across the border. The
police would be looking for him, the neighbor warned.
He needed to leave now.
In the late 1980s, the Himalayan nation of Bhutan
adopted policies aimed at creating a distinct national
identity. The new policies targeted minority religion,
language, and culture, and led to demonstrations by
ethnic Nepalis and other minority groups. The gov-
ernment responded with arrests, torture, and the
expulsion of Nepali communities.
Chhabi left immediately. Fearing arrest, he didnt
have time to go home; he had only the money in his
wallet and the six new stamps in his pocket. He was
settled at Beldangi camp in Nepal, among tens of thou-
sands of other ethnic Nepali refugees. He was given a
small hut made of thatch and bamboo with mud floors.
He ate rice and lentils. There was no electricity, no
running water. He stayed there for eighteen years.
Chhabi wanted to go back home, and he paid close
attention to the negotiations between Bhutan and
Nepal, which would not allow the refugees to inte-
grate into larger society. But as the decades passed,
he got married and started a family. Raising kids
without milk, eggs, medicine, or job opportunities,
he began to make compromises. They would not wait
out the endless negotiations. They would apply to
come to America.
Chhabis family came to Portland in 2008. The
only things he still has from his home country are the
six stamps and a single ngultrum, a Bhutanese dollar.
He says the stamps remind him of his childhood in
Bhutan: I started there. I have my friends there. I am
from Bhutan.

Caitlin Dwyer lives in Portland. She writes about

education, identity, and boundary-crossing.

Kim Oanh Nguyen is an award-winning photo-

journalist based in Portland. Her work has been
published in many national and international publi-
cations. A refugee from Laos, Kim remembers the
things her family brought to America: the clothes
they wore and documents folded in their pockets.
28 Oregon Humanities

In Southern Oregon, the lack of affordable
housing edges out a growing number of people.


boom box in the morning during the
summer I was sixteen, more often than not I
reminiscent of the Great Depression of the
1930s. President Reagan was interviewed in
January 1984 on Good Morning America. He sat
was treated to the rich, throaty sounds of Tina in a leather chair next to a warm fireplace, his
Turner asking Whats love got to do with it? voice punctuating these words: What weve
It was 1984, and I was growing up in a suburb found in this country, and maybe were more
of Sacramento, and while Turners words were aware of it now, is one problem that weve had,
lighting up the radio dial, not much love was even in the best of times, and that is the people
being shown to the poor: funding for social ser- who are sleeping on the grates. The homeless,
vices and public housing throughout the United who are homeless, you might say, by choice.
States was being slashed under the eye of Ron- What I didnt know then as a sophomore
ald Reagan, who was serving his first term as in high school, and what I do know now as a
president. longtime peace and social justice volunteer
In 1978, the US Department of Housing and in Ashland, Oregon, is that choice implies
Urban Development had a budget of $29.7 bil- opportunitybut for people living on the
lion. In 1983 that budget was reduced to just street, opportunities are few and far between,
under $684 million. Reagans administra- especially when it comes to housing.
tion reduced funding for food stamps, wel- Every year, the US Department of Hous-
fare, housing, and job programs. The number ing and Urban Development counts homeless
of homeless people swelled to proportions people on one night in January in communities
AIMEE FLOM 29 Spring 2017 Carry

across the nation. During one night at the end

of January in 2015, volunteers counted more During one night at the
than two hundred homeless people inside
Ashland city limits and more than thirteen end of January in 2015,
thousand across the state of Oregon. Some
couch-surf among friends and neighbors or live
in cars. Its illegal to camp here, so they shuffle
volunteers counted
around the city to avoid interactions with local
law enforcement agencies, and those with chil-
more than two hundred
dren pretend they arent homeless for fear their
kids may be taken away from them. homeless people inside
A small group of us started serving meals
to people struggling with homelessness last Ashland city limits and
November, and thanks to thousands of volun-
teer hours, weve served thousands of meals
since then. Dubbed the Crockpot Brigade,
more than thirteen
volunteers arrive every Friday, their arms
laden with homemade food. Over the year the
thousand across the
meal has moved from a community center to
a neighborhood park, and has found a more state of Oregon.
30 Oregon Humanities

With less available

housing to move into,
more people are destined
to be edged out onto the
streets and the number
of homeless families in
Oregon will multiply.

permanent location in Pioneer Hall, just on the reach. He doesnt trust anyone enough to seek
edge of Lithia Park. help, and his closest friends havent yet been
On our busiest Fridays well serve about able to talk him into visiting a local clinic.
ninety people, but we average sixty on a steady In 2010, US Census figures show the
basis. For some, the dinner is their only meal vacancy rate for rentals in Jackson County was
of the day. They feast and then fill up contain- 6.7 percent, higher than Portland's but below
ers for the next day. The meals also offer a place the national average. By November 2015, the
for community, where people of all ages and vacancy rate in Ashland had fallen to between
incomes gather. 1 and 2 percent, as rental prices dramatically
Red is one of the people Ive met through the increased. These numbers are echoed in many
Crockpot Brigade. He has a cobbled-together communities throughout the state, as a rental-
one-ton truck and trailer that he uses to haul housing crisis has widened the gap between the
everything he owns. It breaks down often and haves and the have-nots. Part of the conversa-
needs expensive brake work. A modest Social tion about the solution to homelessness must
Security check helps him stay current with center on affordable housing, but in the current
auto insurance and minor repairs. At night, the rental market this seems nearly impossible:
cab of the truck is his shelter. there are barely enough units to go around, let
If I could just get some decent sleep, he alone a surplus. With less housing available
says. But I think it would take sleeping pills at to move into, more people are destined to be
this point. His age and health issues make him edged out onto the streets, and the number of
an easy target for unscrupulous people, and homeless families in Oregon will multiply.
friends worry that he might not live through In Jackson County, charitable organiza-
another winter. Often his whole body is rattled tions like the Society of St. Vincent de Paul,
by a persistent cough, but health care is out of which offers limited rental assistance, among
31 Spring 2017 Carry

other things, are already feeling the pressure and celebrated her ninety-seventh birthday in
of increased need for their services. St. Vincent January.
recently tried to prevent an elderly woman For the working poor, wage stagnation is a
from being thrown out of her apartment. Charu giant piece of the homelessness puzzle. The
Colorado, an Ashland-based artist whod lived economy is recovering, but it doesnt seem like
in the same apartment for twenty-three years, that is trickling down, says Nan Roman, presi-
was given a thirty-day notice that her rent dent of the National Alliance to End Homeless-
would increase by nearly 50 percent after the ness. If youre making minimum wage, youre
complex was purchased late last summer by really not making enough anywhere in the
Pacific Properties, a management company country for housing.
owned by Ashland resident Ron Deluca. At first That was the case for my own family last
Colorado thought she could reason with the July, when we suddenly received an eviction
company. But the state of Oregon has not got notice after our landlords decided to sell the
a law to protect renters, Colorado says. They house in Ashlands Railroad District where
can raise the rent the next day if they want, but wed been living for six years. Desperate to
they usually wait a month. A month is nothing. keep our children in their schools, we began an
Such a dramatic rent increase was impossible online fund-raising campaign, and our com-
to absorb for Colorado, who lives on a modest munity rallied around us. We were fortunate
fixed income. to locate a tiny mobile home for sale on the edge
The threat of losing her home affected her of town, raise $15,000, and become first-time
health and well-being. Within two weeks I home buyers. Most folks arent that lucky.
could not remember. If your name was Deb, I Often were told that people are home-
could not remember, she said. I had seen my less because theyre lazy and dont want to
doctor before, immediately before. I never had work. What most people who spout such bal-
any trouble with that. She believes her sudden derdash dont see is that, according to the
decline was attributable to the stress of her National Law Center on Homelessness and
situation. Poverty, nearly half of the people experienc-
Besides the fact that Colorado lacked the ing homelessness nationwide hold down a
mobility to simply move out, the apartment job. The guy who pumped your gas last week,
was her home. Shed grown flowers and vege- the woman who cleaned your motel room,
tables in the soil outside her front door and had your childs preschool teacherall might be
made improvements on the property. The pre- examples of people who live in hiding, sleep-
vious management company described Colo- ing in their cars or couch-surfing between
rado as a good tenant about whom there were nights at shelters. This is the new face of pov-
never any complaints. erty in America.
When St. Vincent de Paul stepped in to help,
the threat of eviction weighed heavily on Colo-
rados mind. I dont want to go now, because
I just couldnt get out of here and maintain
myself, she said. I have twenty-five years
of work all filed downstairs. Id like to stay at
least until spring. To help ease her worries,
St. Vincent pledged to help her pay the differ-
ence between her old rent and the consider-
Vanessa Houk works on social justice issues in
ably increased rent for a few months. With help Southern Oregon. She resides in Ashland with her
from friends, she found another place to live, husband and two daughters.
32 Oregon Humanities
33 Spring 2017 Carry

Good that her face would light up, pleased at the unexpected surprise.
I wasnt sure I could stop myself from trying to fix the situation,

from once again trying to be the girl whod do just about any-
thing to please her.
I slowly untied the black-and-white patterned head scarf
Id put on early that morning back in Portland and used both
hands to smooth back the tightly curled stray hairs, willing them
into place. I gingerly opened the car door and stepped out onto
the packed snow, holding tightly to the side of the car. Here in
Cleveland, it was ten degrees and nearly midnight. The wind
Going natural despite family was blowing relentlessly, gaining momentum from nearby Lake
Erie. I turned the key in the lock and pushed open the white door.
and societal expectations The breath Id been holding whooshed out between my
pursed lips.
The call came from the den, where my mothers mother,
petite and the tan hue of sweet butterscotch, had been watching
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.


Even the turn signal sounded ominous. I sank low into
the heated leather seat of my aunts sedan. My heels bounced up
Hi, Grandma. Im here. I elevated the pitch of my voice at the
end of each sentence, hoping to convey enthusiasm. We replayed
the same scenario, the same exact words every December.
and down, up and down, while my toes pressed into the bottoms The television went mute as I heard her push up from a
of my furry snow boots. My jean-clad legs helplessly followed squeaky recliner. I walked out of the kitchen into the living
suit, rubbing against the passenger side door, polishing its plas- room, where we met eyes, brown staring into brown. She reached
tic exterior. toward me and I bent down to give her a hug. I felt her looking at
My aunt Marsha turned the car into my grandmothers drive- my legs, my stomach, then my arms, and, finally, my hair.
way and gunned the gas to make it up the steep 150-foot drive. Ooh, its good to see you, dear, she said. She paused. I
The weathered white house came into full view, its second-floor waited. She reached one hand up, barely brushing the tips of my
cobalt-blue plantation shutters flanking wide, squat windows. Afro puffs. Whats that youve done to your hair? Oh, Kim. You
Over the years, Id spent hours sitting on the white-and-corn- have such a pretty face. Why do you want to go and do that?
flower-blue sofa next to the first-floor bay window, reading and I looked around, hoping my aunt would walk in right then
often ignoring my grandmothers unquenchable need to give me but she was still getting the last of the luggage. Reluctantly, I
advice on how to get a job, get a husband, get thin, and get happy. glanced back at my grandmother and told her it was good to
Though curtains now covered the window, I could still make see her, that Id had a long flight, a layover in Chicago. I thought
out the shimmer of holiday lights on my grandmothers plastic maybe if I ignored the comment, shed just let it go. But shed
Christmas tree. As we pulled up to the side door, I already knew never seen my hair like this. She had no idea my hairstyles
what the topic of this holidays advice was going to benot the changed with the seasons.
men I wasnt seeing, not the food I wasnt eating, not the job and My hair has been red, golden-brown, and so short I couldnt
my latest big story. The topic would be my hair. run my hands through it. Ive worn cornrows like NBA play-
I pulled down the passenger-side visor to look in the mirror ers. Ive had curly-Q weaves and ponytail hairpieces. Ive worn
and fluffed my two slightly lopsided Afro puffs. I had changed my hair straight as a freshly pressed suit and layered so high
my hairstyle two years earlier and knew that my grandmother I had to duck to get it all in my dads 1988 Jeep Cherokee. But
probably wouldnt like it. She preferred smooth, straight hair Grandma had never seen most of them, because at Christmas
that could be tossed in the wind, neatly styled with little fanfare. I often stood in front of her with my hair crisply straightened,
So, I waited to tell her, each holiday season investing in braids or the ends tucked under by foam rollers. She walked with me
a new weave to mask the kinky curls. Though I was now twenty- back to the kitchen, served me a plate of chicken shed bought
nine years old and by all accounts an adult, when I visited her at a store in a strip mall nearby.
house, I seemed to fold myself into my self-conscious eleven- How long has your hair been like that? she asked once Id

year-old body, complete with high-top sneakers and teased-out sat at the kitchen table and put one of her soft paper napkins
bangs. I was prepared for her response and held out little hope in my lap.
34 Oregon Humanities

house in Cleveland every year for nearly a decade. My grand-
Changing hairstyles mother made me go on walks with her so Id get skinny enough
to play tennis. She also bought me my favorite snack but repri-

was as natural to me manded me when I ate the salty cheese curls.

On Saturday nights, wed go down the twenty vinyl-lined
steps to the basement. Along one wall hung a ten-foot banner
as getting dressed from my first birthday party. In that small concrete-floored
room with a deep sink and a washer and dryer, we began prepa-

each day. rations for Sunday church. Grandma plugged in a hot plate and
put it atop the washing machine. After a few minutes, it began to
glow red-hot. Then she took a curling iron, cast-iron and heavy
as a five-pound weight, and placed it on top of the burner. Sec-
onds later, Grandma picked up the iron and told me to lean in.
As she lifted a patch of stubborn locks, she put the iron as close
About a year. to my scalp as she could. Hiss. Pop. Pop. The iron took my fragile
You have such a pretty face, she continued. hair and burned it into submission, the hair sizzling and the oil
Please, stop while youre ahead. Thats what I wanted to shout. on my hair crackling like fried chicken in hot peanut oil. I jerked
But instead I said, Do you have any lemonade? away, hard, as the iron grazed my scalp, leaving a discolored
Thats just not for a pretty young woman, she continued, mark in its wake. My scalp wasnt the only casualty: sometimes
even as she moved to the fridge to pour me a drink. It doesnt she let the iron get too hot and it melted my hair onto the iron,
bring out the best in you. You want to get married, dont you? leaving the room flooded with the smells of burned hair, oil, and
Grandma was the only one of her siblings to go to college. She sometimes flesh.
mostly raised herself on farms in Tennessee, sometimes living To me, it seemed a Black girls rite of passage, just like wear-
with her father, sometimes with a sister or a family friend. Shed ing rows of beads in my hair that constantly smacked me in the
gone from having no permanent home to living in the same face when I turned my head. Or learning to sit still for ten hours
house in a middle-class Cleveland suburb for fifty years. She while two to three women weaved synthetic hair into my own
took successmy successvery seriously. and braided it down to my butt.
She stared at me as I forced a forkful of carrots, peas, and Still, I loved that I could change my hair from day to day.
roasted chicken into my mouth. I stared at my plate as I chewed. Straight one day, tightly twisted the next. At my apartment in
I had two choices: lie, or begin a five-day argument I wasnt likely Portland, I had two shelves in my bathroom dedicated to my
to win. Luckily, Aunt Marsha chose that moment to come in the hair: two curling irons, a flat iron, two hair dryers, two hundred
side door. She was carrying a suitcase of mine. She put it on the curlers, three cans of sheen, two leave-in conditioners, five hot
kitchen floor and I saw an opportunity to escape. oil treatments, and eight shampoos. Two squat jars of freezing
Grandma, I think Ill take my stuff upstairs and change, gel: one goes on black, the other goes on clear. One do-rag or head
I said. scarf, one bonnet, and one silk pillowcase for sleeping.
My grandmother declared she was going to bed anyway and Changing hairstyles was as natural to me as getting dressed
puttered off toward her room. each day. Still, my dad made me wait until I was fourteen (about
All around the house there are pictures of my mom. She died five years after most of my friends) before using chemicals to
not long after I started second grade. By the time I was in high straighten my hair.
school, I wondered whether my grandmothers zealous hover- I didnt understand it then, but I think I was always destined
ing, advice-giving, and correcting was for me or for her, for the for a natural hairstyle. Not long after I started using relaxers, my
daughter she still mourned. My aunt reminded me of the money hair broke off, getting shorter and shorter. There are more than
my grandma had sent me every month when I was in middle twenty brands of relaxers, but most include the same chemicals.
school and high school to get my hair done. It was her money that Traditionally companies used sodium hydroxide (lye) relaxers,
got me the first chemical treatment that straightened my hair but after someone discovered it was the equivalent of using
for eight weeks. Her money paid for my twice-monthly wash and drain cleaner on human hair follicles, most people opted for the
roller sets. When I wanted to buy my own car after I got my first less toxic, no-lye guanidine hydroxide (no-lye) relaxers.
job, my grandma matched the money I had for a down payment. Since 2008, sales of chemical relaxers have dropped by
And when I decided that seeing a nutritionist would help me bet- more than 25 percent as an increasing number of Black women
ter deal with my penchant for breads, macaroni and cheese, and have sought natural hairstyles and products. The trend may be
sugar cookies, my grandmother jumped at the chance to help me growing, but it doesnt make the transition easy for us, for our
pay for what insurance wouldnt. hair, or for those around us. For years, straight hair has been
My hairdid I owe her this? equated with success, professionalism, and beautyever since
35 Spring 2017 Carry

the advent of straightening combs in the 1880s. Are you really going to wear your hair like that? she asked.
Rose Weitz, who writes about the importance of hair in the I sighed and looked out the kitchen window at the blowing
lives of women, says that we are sending a message with our snow. She couldnt even wait until I finished breakfast. I curled
locks; that hairwhether fine, kinky, purple, or cut close to my lips into a forced smile.
the scalpis part of a broader language of appearance, which, Yes, Grandma. I like it this way.
whether or not we intend it, tells others about ourselves. Im just trying to help. Ive been around a long time. I know
Changing my hair transformed my relationships and my whats nice.
identity. When I changed it, it almost felt like I was being reborn, I wondered if shed ever changed her hairstyle. It always
being given another chance to recast, re-create who I wassassy, seemed the same to me whether I was five years old, fifteen, or
obedient, sexy, demure. But around my grandmother, I often fol- twenty-five. She wore her wavy hair in wispy layers just above
lowed her lead, walking with the weight of her expectations and her ears. She had no need for hot irons or chemicals, but she
the benefits of her struggle. She bought me clothes, jewelry, and liked to sculpt her tresses until the only curl was a slight bend
gym memberships and mailed me newspaper clippings about at the tips. She had the lightest complexion of all her five sisters
which fruits and veggies I should eat to lose weight faster. and brothers. The others had skin closer to the milk-chocolate
I was living in Portland when I stopped putting chemicals in color of my own skin. Among all her sisters, my grandmother
my hair, and my decision raised few eyebrows among friends. always had the good hair, people said.
In fact, the dreadlocked, natural hairwearing folks in town Still, my grandma foughtto fit in, to get her education, to be
seemed to pause and look at me with a little more respect. given respect. In college, she stayed on campus during holidays,
I drove around with my windows down, playing that India having no way home. She worked in the cafeteria, on the campus
Arie R&B hit over and over and over. On my thirty-minute drive switchboard, in the science lab, and at a local church office to
to work, I turned up the stereo to ear-ringing decibels. It wasnt earn enough money to buy a few dresses and an occasional train
just one of those head-nodding types of songs but one in need of ticket home to Knoxville, Tennessee.
a full-body car dance. Torso gyrating, neck snappin with every She moved to Cleveland in the early 1950s and got her first
hit of the drumbeat. Hand-waving in the air on every count. elementary-school teaching job. She did her best to fit in,
I am not my hair. dressed in a modest suit, her hair pulled back in a neat bun. Still,
I am not this skin. she was transferred multiple times until landing in a school
I am the soul that lives within. community more friendly to African Americans. She dressed
When India Arie came to Portland in 2007, her concert was up nearly every day for thirty-three years of teaching, her hair
sold out and I was there. I remember the moment we heard the pressed or neatly layered around her face. She said that helped
piano chords and the distinct thump of the bass. The whole her gain acceptance and respect from coworkers and parents.
crowd howled as Arie ripped off her wig of braids and revealed Why would I change what had worked for her? Why would
a short Afro. I do something that flew in the face of what my grandmother
Good hair means curls and waves. Bad hair means you look like a wanted, what she believed? I could have washed my hair and
slave. At the turn of the century, its time for us to redefine who we be. spent two hours blowing it out with a comb and hair dryer. Yet
Her song told my story. something held me back this time.
Looking back, that Afro was one of the first decisions I made After I turned eighteen, the more Grandma clung to me, the
for me. more she called me (every two to three days), the more I began to
pull away. I was angry, smothered by her behavior. But I reached
AT M Y GR A N DMO T H E R S HOU S E , I WOK E DI S M AY E D for her as much as she reached for me, the way I would have
the next morning. Id forgotten to put my sleep cap on and my reached for my mother. I reached for her words and the way that
curls were matted to one side. I got up from the bed and squeezed a mothers words could uplift, scorn, and teach.
a palmful of leave-in conditioner onto the top of my head and My hair was longer and stronger than it had been in nearly a
worked it in. I squeezed more in my hand and rubbed the back of decade. I wanted her to be proud of me, to see what I saw.
my head, loosening the stubborn curls. I worked them for about She looked up at me and said she would pray to God for me. I
fifteen minutes, stretching and pulling, loosening and massag- looked up in the air to God for backup. I stepped into the closet
ing. Then I smelled bacon and left the room for breakfast with to pull out my coat and my furry boots. I told her that I didnt
my grandmother. think God really cared about my hair one way or the other and
In the kitchen, she stood at the stove, frying the meat hard in closed the door with a forceful click.
a skillet, eggs sitting on a plate nearby. I took the plate, kissed her
cheek, and poured a glass of orange juice. She spooned the bacon
onto a paper towel and sat at the glass kitchen table, watching Kimberly Melton is a nonfiction writer who often anchors
me move between the sink, the refrigerator, and the counter, her work in personal stories and issues of race and culture.
After studying journalism and African American studies,
assembling my meal. The Price Is Right played on the small ana-
she spent nearly eight years as a reporter and now works on
log television with its two feet of antenna. public policy at Multnomah County.
36 Oregon Humanities

Split Lessons about mens and
womens work divide a boy
from his community.


chased a small piece of land in the heart of a secluded
cove at the end of a road outside a small coastal town in Alaska.
house while waves battered the seawall in front of our home,
leaving salt spray on our siding, seaweed on our windows, and
driftwood in our front yard.
There, next to the Pacific Ocean, my father built our family Living in a remote wilderness area, we depended on the
a house ten feet above the high tide line. I spent every sum- ocean and forest to provide us with a significant portion of our
mer swimming in the ocean and running through the forest, food and fuel. Surrounded by cedar, hemlock, spruce, and fir,
exploring rivers and mountains that few people had ever seen. we heated our home with eight to twelve cords of firewood a
But then winter would come, a long, dark season of one-hour year, burned in a black cast-iron woodstove set on a tile-cov-
bus rides to and from school, and weekends cooped up in the ered hearth in the corner of our living room. We gathered that
37 Spring 2017 Carry

In the rural world

of my youth, there
was a thick line that
firewood from the ocean, in between winter storms and during separated mens work
the full moon, when a fresh stock of sun-bleached logs was made
accessible by a combination of storm surge and high tides. from womens work.
My father and I would start early in the morning. Wed haul
our fifteen-foot aluminum skiff down the beach in front of our The level of physical
house, clamp on our twenty-five-horsepower Yamaha outboard
motor, don our life jackets, and set out to cruise the shoreline exertion and danger
for firewood logs. After an hour or so of searching, wed spot a
bounty that hadnt already been picked over. Wed beach our involved defined the
skiff and use large peaveys with wooden handles to roll the logs
off barnacle-covered rocks, over seaweed-covered sand, and
manliness of any
down into the ocean. Once they were in the water, wed pound
large metal stakes into each log with the blunt end of a maul and
particular task.
run rope from staple to staple, forming a raft of five or ten or
twenty logs. Then wed secure this raft to the stern of our skiff
with more rope and begin the slow journey home.
As we puttered along, our small outboard motor slowly tug-
ging several tons of logs through the water, Id huddle on the
middle bench of our skiff, the cold, damp air cutting through
my mismatched layers of cotton and wool and polyester hand-
me-downs, the threat of frostbite slicing at my hands and feet.
It was a stark juxtaposition, staring out from under the shadow alone. And the reason I did it alone was simply
of my hood at a world that was both stunningly beautiful and because my four siblings were girls, and in my
actively trying to kill us. Storms would sometimes materialize community, splitting and stacking wood was
without warning. In the wintertime, anyone who ended up in considered mens work.
the water would be hypothermic and dead within minutes, and In the rural world of my youth, there was
every family in my community knew of someone who had been a thick line that separated mens work from
taken by the sea. But the danger that surrounded also mesmer- womens work. The level of physical exertion
ized. On a still day, the pane of ocean was like a mirror stretch- and danger involved defined the manliness
ing for miles. Hypnotizing patterns rippled in the wake of our of any particular task, and we learned to equate
skiff. Bald eagles circled above us, and we watched sea otters as maleness with the rough ways of men who
they groomed and rolled and dove into the reflections of passing wielded chainsaws in forests crawling with
clouds, their chirps and splashes dancing in our ears. grizzly bears, with the stone-faced expres-
Once we made it back home, we would anchor our raft of logs sions of men whose lives were hardened on the
as high up the beach as possible. For the next several Saturdays, rolling, storm-tossed decks of fishing boats.
my father would use a chainsaw to buck each log into firewood- Meanwhile, women earned respect by being
length rounds, which I would heave into a wheelbarrow, push up homemakers, kneading dough for bread made
the beach, and dump on a growing pile in the flat, gravel-covered weekly from scratch, scrubbing the floors until
patch surrounded by alders that we called a backyard. they gleamed, and comforting the children
After this, it fell on me to split the wood and stack it under the theyd birthed every time they skinned a knee,
cover of our woodshed. I hated this work. came down with the flu, or experienced heart-
I did not revel in my strength, or the power of the maul, or ache. We werent taught to recognize that these
the physics behind the wedges that I used to split apart deeply tasks, too, require grit and physical stamina,
knotted rounds. And I did not feel a sense of pride for helping and we learned to equate femaleness with a
warm my family, or for living so closely to the land. Instead, with certain amount of fragility and vulnerability.
each round I split and each piece of firewood I stacked, a deep Even as a young child, this made no sense to
resentment burned in my belly, for this was work that I had to do me. It was explained that men were expected
38 Oregon Humanities

The supposed ease and safety

of womens work was countered
by the grinding day in, day
out of emotional toil, and a
stifling loss of power inherent
in being completely financially
dependent on men.

to do physical labor because they tended to oppressive. The supposed ease and safety of womens work was
have larger, stronger bodies, and women were countered by the grinding day in, day out of emotional toil, and
expected to be homemakers because they a stifling loss of power inherent in being completely financially
tended to be more sensitive and nurturing. dependent on men. My community was rife with substance
However, I did not accept this line of reason- abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and suicide, largely per-
ing, and much to the dismay and frustration of petrated by men, and I found it impossible to believe that men
my parents and others in my community, I con- who were truly satisfied with their lot in life would commit such
stantly pointed out exceptions to such stereo- violence to self and others.
types. I knew that my sisters were just as strong In The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love, bell
and able-bodied as I was, and I knew that I was hooks writes: The first act of violence that patriarchy demands
just as interested in cooking and sewing and of males is not violence toward women. Instead patriarchy
other womens work as they were. But the fact demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-
is that when they were given fabric, needle, and mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves.
thread, I was given a maul, and when they were If an individual is not successful in emotionally crippling him-
expected to learn how to make quilts, I was self, he can count on patriarchal men to enact rituals of power
expected to chop, carry, and stack firewood. that will assault his self-esteem.
While some might be tempted to wax nos- I could not convince my family to equitably distribute the
talgic about a social arrangement such as this, duty of splitting firewood, but I could covertly take up needle
there was something toxic in this brew, some- and thread. By the time my mother discovered my transgres-
thing not brave and nurturing but violent and sion, I was accomplished enough to have created cross-stitched
39 Spring 2017 Carry

bookmarks to give to the members of our small home-based Id head out to the woodshed to split and stack
church. My parents made no secret of discussing it with other firewood for an hour or so.
members of our community. They wondered out loud if it meant And I loved it. For the first time in my life,
I was homosexual (as if that was something to be feared). How- I realized that splitting and stacking firewood
ever, my cross-stitching mostly featured images of wildlife, such can be an exquisitely beautiful experience. I
as ducks and deer, and even a hunting rifle, which they saw as relished the practice of finding my flow, my
adequately masculine. Furthermore, one of the more worldly body limbering up with each swing of the
women in our church group pointed out that shed heard of a maul, my energy rising with each strong beat
famous cross-stitcher who was a man, and who was presumed of my heart. I savored the hauling and stack-
to also be heterosexual (praise the Lord!). In the end, I was ing of each stick of firewood, each piece locking
allowed to continue dabbling in the textile arts, although it was together in a symphony of light and shadow,
still viewed with some suspicion. like brushstrokes in a painting. Warmed by the
My sisters, had they been similarly inclined to break free of heat of my labor and the detritus from the for-
this arrangement, faced a much more difficult challenge. The est, I was filled with gratitude, reminded that
work they were expected to do was mostly hidden from the eyes the earth provides for every need.
of the world, conducted in the privacy of homes, making it rela- I live back in the city once again. I returned
tively easy for me to experiment with crossing over to their to start a family, which I did; after a divorce, I
side of the forbidden line. But the domestic tasks that were del- found myself living the life of a single dad. My
egated to menwashing the car, cleaning the gutters, splitting youthful rebelliousness is paying off, for now I
firewoodincluded activities that any neighbor would easily am at once a breadwinner and a homemaker,
notice. My sisters were being groomed to live in the shadow and there is no room for gender roles when it
of men, to provide the emotional and social glue that held our comes to household tasks. I mow the lawn and
community together, without being afforded a commensu- cook and clean, I wrestle with my children and
rate amount of power or even recognition. Any rebellion they snuggle them too, I handle any mechanical task
may have waged would be easily spotted, for they were being and am handy with needle and thread.
groomed to be invisible. However, there is still an unfulfilled vision
I do not know what causes one person to submit and another that burns in my soul, a vision larger than my
to rebel, but what I do know is that I was unsuccessful in con- own life or the life I share with my children.
forming to the norms of my community, of engaging in what In this vision, Im once again sitting in a skiff
hooks calls acts of psychic self-mutilation. I may have eventu- with my father, and were puttering along the
ally learned how to turn off the sensations of thirst, hunger, and shore searching for firewood. A bald eagle soars
hypothermia while out in the skiff on long days searching for overhead, and in the distance, a humpback
firewood, but I was unable to kill the pain and anger that welled whale slips below the surface of the perfectly
up each time I witnessed an injustice in my community. I was still ocean, leaving behind a suspended puff of
doubly cursed with a low aptitude for keeping my mouth shut. fish-breath. And even though it is icy cold, great
As a result, I was increasingly met with violence, until one dark warmth fills my body, for I know that when we
evening a family member and a church elder from a neighboring return, the whole community will be there,
community pinned me to the hard linoleum of our kitchen floor women, children, and men, everyone pitch-
and beat me until one side of my head was the color of a plum. ing in to the best of their ability as we all work
Many years later, after Id moved far away from my home- together to buck and haul and split and stack
town, lived in a number of cities, and experienced many adven- the firewood that will warm our homes in this
tures, I wanted to retreat and regroup and refresh my soul in the wonderland among the stars.
familiarity of the wilderness. I chose to live for a time in a cabin
tucked in the shadow of a conifer forest at the edge of a meadow
on a remote mountain, and I heated my cabin with a small cast-
iron woodstove. The woodstove was fed with the remains of
wind-downed trees, which I hauled out of the forest using a Ryan Stroud is a storyteller, author, and
system of pulleys and choker cables and the winch mounted on management consultant. He lives in Portland
with his family and facilitates the Oregon
the front of the four-wheel-drive mountain vehicle that was my
Humanities Conversation Project discussion
lifeline to civilization. Every morning, after drinking my coffee, Homeless in the Land of Plenty.
40 Oregon Humanities


Shooting the Portage upside-down canoe shrouded my vision and

Northern Ontario is a path of water that
connects beaver dams to streams and lakes to
placed the gunnels at eye level.
The carry commonly involved walking on
steep ledges or through marshes and mud. Dur-
rivers. With an old Grumman canoe, it is pos- ing one particularly long carry, I had to set the
sible to witness remote beauty while gliding canoe down in shallow water, repack the gear,
and paddling north of the Toronto commute paddle across to an open marsh, and unload to
on the way to James Bay. The earth that rises continue the carry. To this day, I recount this
above water level and intersperses dry land in as shooting the portage, much like shooting
the midst of the water trail is the recurring rea- rapids or swellsbut much slower.
son to leave the canoe. When landfall is neces- At the end of the day, the end of the trip,
sary, moving the canoe and packs overland to and long after the years of canoeing in North-
the next body of water is called the carry. ern Ontario, the water trail memories recede.
The carry is not the purpose of the journey. What I remember, and what has been exagger-
The carry is a hardbut essentialpart of the ated in the retelling, are the carries, because
journey and is a solitary experience. I have they made everything else possible.
exhausted my range of profanity while feel- G A RY A L BR IGHT, Rockaway Beach
ing that I could carry no longer. I continued to
carry because it was my obligation and the only
way to continue the journey. When It Shifts
Carries range from fifty meters to five kilo-
meters, and my feelings about the carry ranged
correspondingly. The older canvas and metal
to her, chore transmuting into ritual.
The hospital bed has been here for months,
canoes were heavy, and by inverting the canoe since she began hospice last December. This
overhead to make the carry possible, my jour- weeks addition is a second, smaller bed,
ney became awkward and uneven. The gun- wedged in so her partner of twenty years can
nels in a canoe are so wide that I could carry sleep nearby. But the second bed blocks the
an inverted canoe only by lashing the paddles closet. Out everything must come, to be moved
to the inside, resting the canoes weight on somewhere else.
the paddles and then on my shoulders. The Her wife insists shell get to it. But why bur-
den her with one more task, something I can
easily do? Besides, the wife is a fusser even in
the best of times, and the sick woman has no
tolerance for being fussed over.
And so, on this first warm day of spring, I
The carry is not the purpose of the send her fussing, loving wife from the room,
journey. The carry is a hardbut then pull things from the closet, holding each
item up for her to say yes or no. Shirts.
essentialpart of the journey and is a Pants. Jackets. Coats. The illness that is steal-
ing her breath makes her tire easily. Although
solitary experience. I have exhausted she isnt yet confined to bed, or even to the
my range of profanity while feeling house, her hours are mostly spent lying here
or, when she can exert herself, in a recliner in
that I could carry no longer. the living room. Yes means keep that, Ill
41 Spring 2017 Carry

wear it again. No means dont bother holding

onto something someone else might use, when
She takes the sleeve in her hand,
I never will. feels the thickness, and, as the April
Terrible at organizing my own life, I am
deft at organizing other peoples. Within sunlight streams into her corner
half an hour, the stack of What to do with?
shrinks, as both the pile to keep and the pile
room, calculates whether shell ever
to give away grow. I dont notice whether its a need something so heavy again.
shirt or jacket, flannel or fleece, that she first
asks me to bring closer. She takes the sleeve
in her hand, feels the thickness, and, as the
April sunlight streams into her corner room,
calculates whether shell ever need something
so heavy again.
After that, I keep carrying. She talks about illnesses that require hospitalization: pneu-
purples, greens, blues, sometimes recalling monia, kidney infections, heart failure.
where she wore a particular thing. I notice Yesterday I saved a mans life. I had some
but dont mention when her touching shifts, premonition his condition might deteriorate
becomes not a matter of gauging weight but of suddenly. I wisely moved him to the ICU. When
bidding each garment goodbye. his heart fibrillated the nurses were immedi-
L OIS L E V EEN, Portland ately present to start CPR. We shocked his
heart back to life.
Initially I felt immense relief and pride at
What Doctors Carry our success. But then I reviewed his medi-

certainly expected to when I finished
medical school. It all seemed so noble and
cal record from the prior month, which
revealed missed opportunities to avert his
sudden death.
unambiguous. Thus it was quite a shock to dis- Even a life saved carries some ambiguity.
cover that being a doctor also carried the bur- Soon my pride morphed into hubris. I found
den of causing harm. myself thinking, I would not have overlooked
As a new intern, I remember being awak- those obvious clues.
ened at 6:00 a.m. with a report that my patient Just then the ER called. A woman Id cared
(my patient!) had an elevated potassium level. for the previous week, with intestinal bleeding,
I cant remember if I intended to get up to had collapsed at home. The changes I had made
address the problem and then fell back asleep, to her medicines caused a devastating stroke.
or if I hadnt yet learned that elevated potas- As they say, pride goeth before the fall.
sium can cause ventricular fibrillation, i.e., PAU L B A SCOM , Portland
sudden cardiac death. In any event, the next
call I received was the nurse informing me that
my patient had died. Crossing the Bridge
This particular patient was old and infirm.
He had a do-not-resuscitate order. Perhaps it
was simply his time. But still, after thirty years,
carry at the age of eighty-eight, my
brain immediately forms the phrase carry to
I wonder if I served him well. my grave. After allowing my mind to explore
Maybe thats why I chose a career in pal- the implied question of what that might entail,
liative medicine, caring for the terminally ill. I conclude that I have no dark secrets or unful-
Because there was no expectation of keep- filled ambitions to be revealed, or that best be
ing patients alive, maybe I hoped to avoid the left unstated. Further exploration of the word
responsibility of doing no harm. Yet I discov- leads me to conclude that I am a very long way
ered that, even in palliative medicine, there was across the bridge that is carrying me from the
no escaping that burden. I still caused harm first opening of my eyes to their final closing
sometimes. Sometimes my patients died in pain, and eternal blackness. In contemplation of
attached to machines, or amid family strife. crossing my bridge and reaching the end of my
Now I serve as a hospitalist. I fix simple trip, I have decided that I wish, and have made
P OSTS 42 Oregon Humanities

continued from previous page

the best plan I can conceive, to have it be as will keep you posted.
abrupt as if I had leaped off. Two days later, we returned home bleary-
BI L L DU R ST, Florence eyed and exhausted. The kind vet tech
explained that a lovely couple had rushed our
dog into the hospital a few minutes after we had
The Burden of Loss gotten off the phone with our friends. When

does lug, or tote. Move or bring? No, they
arent right either. The word that applies to that
they carried her in, Bebe was still warm. They
had found her right away, but there was nothing
to be done. The tech handed me our dogs fro-
time in our lives is carry. We happily expanded zen body to be taken to her final resting place. I
our family to accommodate my husbands will carry her death with me the rest of my life.
mom. New territory for all, some fun to be had DA R L EN E Z IM B A R DI, Portland
together was what we spoke about. Life doesnt
always go the way youd like, but you get car-
ried along. Heartsad and Resolute
Mom wasnt happy about becoming depen-
dent; that much we can all agree upon. When
we decided a change of scenery might help, I
land, I have had something thrown at me
from a moving car. Without exception, the com-
was the one who thought itd be too much to mon denominator in this aggressive behavior is
take the dog along. In my mind it seemed there that those involved are white men. What they
wasnt room for Bebe to come to the coast. At fail to realize is that I am too. The nature of the
this point Mom needed a walker to get around. epithets tells me quite clearly that they believe
My logic was that a little cute dog might just get they are threatening a Muslim, that they are
in the way. Trip her up, run out, or get hurt. threatening someone whos other than white.
I arranged for friends to take the fluffball. I I have lupus, and along with ever-present
felt funny all day. We stopped for joint pain and muscle deterioration comes a UV
lunch; Justin carried his grandma out of the sensitivity so severe I must cover my skin from
van, most likely around the time that head to toe in protective clothing. The result-
Bebe got out of our friends yard. I was ing reactions from people I meet range from
moody and not hungry at the restaurant. Look- benign to openly hostile, with most landing
ing back, I actually felt frightened. Mom was somewhere in between. I have chosen my ward-
enjoying her food and talking excitedly about robe deliberately, testing different options over
her views from the van. The change of scenery several years, finding the least threatening ver-
was working for her, at least. Pulling out of the sion of each piece: a bright blue raincoat to go
parking lot, headed to Manzanita, we got the with my floppy shade hat. These choices have
phone call: We wanted to tell you that Bebe got helped to mitigate the fearful responses of
out of the yard. Were out looking for her and people on the street, to move people and thus
their responses toward mere caution or even
curiosity. Sadly, these choices have done little
to alter the angry, threatening responses that
sometimes occur. The racist remarks dropped
by passersby or hurled from moving cars have
Even here in progressive Portland, been on the upswing this year.

I have had something thrown at A dedication to meditation helps me carry

compassion each day, rather than internalizing
me from a moving car. these experiences and thus carrying the fear
and hatred that defines these violent expres-
sions. It also helps me continue to look for bias
in my own responses, to acknowledge my own
privilege. For sixteen years, I have had the
opportunity to observe how people respond to
43 Spring 2017 Carry

my physical disability, but in the last few years, use to dig it out. It was very natural to pick up
the required changes to my wardrobe have the rock and start chopping at the soil. There
brought on these racist responses. wasnt much thought to it at all. The act was
I grew up mainly in the South and witnessed propelled by instinct.
both racism and misogyny from a young age, so As contemplation took hold of the moment,
I am neither shocked nor surprised by racism. imagination carried me away. I wondered if
I am heartsad and resolute, determined to do the development of cutting tools occurred the
whatever I can to counter its destructive influ- same way, not for hunting, but simply for dig-
ence. While I would never pretend nor presume ging out roots, bugs, or whatevera practice in
to understand what it is to live as a person of protoagriculture.
color in this city, this country, or this world, Later on, I did a small bit of research.
I want to share whatever I have to offer that One idea is that, while perhaps not ignited
might better illuminate the problems we face by bipedalism, tool development was stimu-
as a society and do so in a way that helps move lated and accelerated by the ability to use our
us toward solutions. hands more freely for a wider range of possible
ROS S CH A PPEL L , Portland uses. It not only became easier to make tools
but also became convenient to take them with
us. So our ancestors stored tools along the
The World Asks More migratory routes of game. While this shows
I asked mama if it was okay to come home they valued portability, it also indicates they
running. She said it was. I asked her if it was understood the cost of a heavy load. Next theme: Claim
okay to come home heartbroken, and she The evidence, such as tool marks found on For the Summer 2017 issue,
said it was, but for a moment only. The world bones, supports the use of tools for hunting tell us about assertions and
asks more of us. The world asks us to breathe or scavenging for meat. However, any agricul- demands, about rights and titles.
in, burst, and give back. There is a fire in the tural evidence would be hard to come by, since Explore historical and current
hearth where we might warm our toes and it would likely decay rapidly over time. So we stories of ownership and expec-
fingers and, with the right company, we may carry with us an incomplete and biased image tations. Share a story about the
things, people, and ideals you
appear beautiful in cast orange light. of the past.
consider yours and why. Send
I asked mama if it was okay to love my Our cultural inclination is to think of men
your submission (400 words
friend. She said it was, but to bear up. Be happy when we think about our ancestors hunting for maximum) byJune 19, 2017,
again because the ships may come and the ships food. It isnt surprising, since recent history in to posts@oregonhumanities.
may go, and all the while it is the ocean that car- our tradition has been disproportionately pre- org. Submissions may be
ries them. We were made for drier metaphors, I occupied with the political, economic, scien- edited for space or clarity.
said, and she braided my hair too tight. tific, and technological achievements of men.
I stood on the yellow-orange-green rock at However, there is no reason to suppose that
daybreak and asked nobody anything. I bore one sex or the other deserves credit for devel-
the horror and delight of loving and let the sun- oping tools. Its just as easy to imagine a female
light burn away everything but this tolerance. I hominid using tools for hunting, scavenging,
muffled the articulation of my body to this: I am and foraging, among other things.
in here. I clamber to get out, I stare, I scratch, But there is a difference. Childcare in many
but still were all together me. I pressed my species, including our own, tends to fall on
cheek to the earth and felt its thrumming along the shoulders of women, since women have a
the sinew-string of our communion: Good physical ability that men do not possess. Con-
trouble. Good trouble. Good trouble. sequently, the burden of evolution has often
M I A BU RCH A M , Portland been disproportionately placed, and since our
evolution was influenced rather significantly
by the use of tools, it would not be surprising if
The Real Mother of Invention their development had been initiated by some

garden, I needed to remove a large
weed. I didnt have any tools nearby, but
clever woman forgotten long ago.
QU IN N A N DR EWS , Portland

there was a triangular-shaped rock I could

44 Oregon Humanities

Read. Talk. Think.

t h ing s t h at m a k e you s ay o. h m.

I realize now that,

growing up in a house
shared only with two
working adults, I was a
Oregon is full of bold contradictions. It is as progressive as it is conservative. fairly lonely girl, which
It is as crazy as it is stable. All these things are true. When you look back left inside me a tender
through history and realize that we had laws on the books that made this both a spotnot broken,
free state and an anti-Black state, theres the big, bold contradiction right there. just bruisedthat I
Gwen Carr, of Oregon Black Pioneers, pictured above, second from left, can still locate. When
at Think & Drink in January 2017 pressed the lonely spot
feels like being lost; it
Sometimes the most fruitful reminds me that, for
years, I was the only
way for me to discover whats member of my species
hidden in my life is to look (the species of modern
away, look at other peoples Elena Passarello,
lives without intending to Corvallis writer and assis-
tant professor of creative
explore my own. To make writing at Oregon State
University, in her collection
room for discovery. of essays Animals Strike
Curious Poses (Sarabande
Floyd Skloot, Portland writer and poet, in his book The Books, 2017)
Phantom of Thomas Hardy (University of Wisconsin Press, 2016)
45 Spring 2017 Carry

The name change What does it mean

to be an American?
is trying to honor This is a question
that any two or three
this guy, but Americans in the same
its also muddy room would have
trouble agreeing upon,
because the names yet our expectations
are so generic and of newcomers to
'become American'
when you take out can be visceral.
the racist name, We often do not
consider the multiple
youre erasing the layers of struggle
that newcomers
evidence of this face on a day-to-day
history that we basis around these
expectations and how,
havent dealt with. privately, what
That gets complicated. How do is seen as resistance
to 'becoming
you keep it present for people American' is in fact
without continuing the harm? a source of deep
confusion and anxiety.
Sika Stanton, one of the filmmakers of An Oregon Canyon,
which you can view online at

It was that some sense of duty and middle-

class guilt propelled me to Burnside, motives that
can render the heart impurepatronizing and
paternalistic. Clinging to the underside of that was the
still more unworthy desire for adventure, to get a bit
dirty without risk, to venture out where hardly anyone
Manuel Padilla, an
wanted to go. Medical slumming, you could call it. Oregon Humanities
Suffering as spectacle. I see this now with clarity. Conversation Project leader.
Read more about his pro-
Patricia Kullberg, Portland writer and former medical director gram The Space Between
at the Multnomah County Health Department, in her memoir Us: Immigrants, Refugees,
On the Ragged Edge of Medicine (Oregon State University and Oregon at oregonhu-
Press, 2017)

Now its your turn. Share your thoughts about the quotes on these pagesand the rest of this issueon Twitter
(@orhumanities), Facebook (Oregon.humanities), or Instagram (@oregonhumanities) with the tag #readtalkthink.
CROPPING S 46 Oregon Humanities

Recurring Chapters in the Book of Inevitable Outcomes, 2015, by Brenda Mallory

Connecting Lines I N 1838, TH E U N ITED STATE S G OV ER N M EN T R EMOV ED TH E CH ERO -

kee people from their homelands in the southeast United States, detained
them in camps, and forced their resettlement in northeastern Oklahoma. A small
March 11 to October 29, 2017 group, which became the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, remained on the original
Center for Contemporary Native Art lands either by returning or hiding during the round up. The work of mem-
Portland Art Museum bers of these separated bandsBrenda Mallory (Cherokee Nation) and Luzene
Hill (Eastern Band Cherokee)is featured together in the fourth exhibition in
1219 SW Park Avenue the Portland Art Museums Center for Contemporary Native Art. Multimedia
Portland, Oregon 97205 artist Luzene Hills work in this exhibition focuses on violence against Native
(503) 226-2811 women, female empowerment, and native sovereignty. Portland-based Brenda Mallorys installation Recurring Chapters in the Book of Inevitable Outcomes is
inspired by a rereading of Cherokee history and addresses ideas of disruption,
repair, and renewal.
Oregon Humanities connects Staff
Oregonians to ideas that change lives
and transform communities. Oregon e x e cu t i v e di r e ct or
Adam Davis
Humanities programs bring people
pa rt n er sh i p a n d t r a i n i ng m a nager
together to listen, learn, and grow. Rachel Bernstein

The Conversation Project brings Oregonians together de v el opm en t di r e ct or

in person to talkacross differences, beliefs, and Adam Green
backgroundsabout important and challenging com m u n icat ions a s s o ci at e
issues and ideas. Eloise Holland
a s s o ci at e di r e ct or /edi t or
Think & Drink is an onstage conversation series that Kathleen Holt
explores provocative ideas and fresh perspectives.
pro gr a m a n d spe ci a l i n i t i at i v e s m a nager
Humanity in Perspective (HIP) is a college-level Annie Kaffen
humanities course that provides economically and pro gr a m co or di nat or /of f ice m a nager
educationally disadvantaged individuals the opportu- Mikaela Schey
nity to study the humanities in a learning community di r e ct or of f i na nce a n d oper at ions
with the guidance of college and university profes- Carole Shellhart
gr a n ts a n d de v el opm en t a s s o ci at e
Oregon Humanities magazine is a triannual publica- Maggie Starr
tion devoted to exploring important and timely ideas com m u n icat ions a s s o ci at e
from a variety of perspectivesespecially those that Ben Waterhouse
have been ignored, generalized, or oppressedand pro gr a m co or di nat or
to stimulating reflection and public conversation. Kyle Weismann-Yee

Public Program Grants provide financial support for com m u n icat ions a n d pro gr a m a s sista n t
Julia Withers
nonprofit organizations and federally recognized
tribes across Oregon to conceive and implement
public humanities programs.

Responsive Program Grants support programs cre-

ated by Oregon nonprofits and federally recognized
tribes in response to timely issues and events.

Facilitation Training equips community members and

workplace teams with skills in planning and leading
discussions about vital issues and ideas across differ-
ences, beliefs, and backgrounds.
Oregon Humanities programs are
Oregon Humanities also collaborates with nonprofit funded by the National Endowment
organizations and community groups on projects that for the Humanities and the Oregon
expand our work of exploring the vast diversity and Cultural Trust, and by contributions from
individuals, foundations, community
complexity of our lives together, striving to empower
organizations, and corporations. For
the most vulnerable in our communities, and nurtur- more information about Oregon
ing our immense collective capacity for respect, jus- Humanities, or to learn how you can help
tice, and hope. more Oregonians get together, share
ideas, listen, think, and grow, please
contact us at:
921 SW Washington Street, Suite 150
Portland, OR 97205
(503) 241-0543 or (800) 735-0543, fax
(503) 241-0024
Non-profit Org.
U.S. Postage
Permit No. 1274
Portland, OR

Oregon Humanities
921 SW Washington St., Suite 150
Portland, OR 97205


Board of Directors
ch a i r
Sona Karentz Andrews, Portland

v ice ch a i r
Janet Webster, Newport

t r e a su r er
Jeff Cronn, Portland

se cr eta ry
Matthew Boulay, Salem

Robert Arellano, Talent

Paul Duden, Portland
Paige Hill, Portland
Kimberly Howard, Portland
Nels Johnson, Portland
Emily Karr, Portland
Kate Lasky, Grants Pass
Julie Jones Manning, Corvallis
Shannon Mara, Bend
Win McCormack, Portland
Alberto Moreno, Portland
Pamela Morgan, Lake Oswego
Denise Reed, Astoria
Chantal Strobel, Bend
Diana Tomseth, Bend
Dave Weich, Portland