|County holds listening session on race issues posted on 09/01/2020|
In response to the civil rights moment sweeping the nation
following the death of George Floyd, Clackamas County Commissioners showed they
want to listen and learn from residents’ experiences with issues of race and
racism in the county.
The commissioners hosted a digital town hall on Wednesday,
Aug. 19 on the topic “Race Issues in Clackamas County.”
The town hall was a listening-style session during which
community members shared experiences with race and racism in the county
directly with the commissioners. The event was moderated by Clackamas County
Equity and Inclusion Officer Martine Coblentz.
“Equity, diversity and inclusion have been important to the
county for years,” Coblentz said. “We want to continue building the public’s
trust and that includes rural and unincorporated communities in the Mount Hood
area as well.”
On June 18, commissioners passed "A Resolution
Condemning Violence and Racism Directed at Black, African Americans and All
People of Color," censuring racism following Floyd’s death.
The resolution tasks the county to review all county
policies and ordinances for any discriminatory impacts.
The town hall was held in an effort to provide a safe space
for residents to share impacts and recommendations toward addressing inequities
The commissioners stated in a press release for the event
that, “recognizing racism is both an historic and present reality in Oregon and
Clackamas County specifically, the commissioners find it critical to listen to
Community members described their experiences with racism in
the county and shared recommendations for change.
Shared experiences included bullying and racial slurs in the
county’s schools, profiling in stores and encounters with “Proud Boys,” a
right-wing group designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Calls for action included establishing methods for holding institutions and
elected officials accountable for systemic discrimination and addressing
inequity in access to housing, healthcare and bias by law enforcement.
Clackamas County is 85.8 percent white according to county
demographic data. The county’s 1.1 percent African American population is below
the state’s 2.2 percent average and the nation’s 13.4 percent total.
“We had a good representation from communities throughout
the county,” Coblentz said about residents' participation in the digital
meeting. “I was pleased; it was a very good first step.”
Coblentz added that the next step of the process of
implementing the recently based resolution involves reviewing what policies and
procedures need to be addressed for discriminatory impact.
Clackamas County will partner with the Coalition of
Communities of Color (CCC) for a full scan of minority communities throughout the
entire county including the Mount Hood communities. The CCC will use this data
to help assess how county policies and institutions impact these communities
and make recommendations.
More information about the county’s efforts to address
equity, diversity and inclusion is available at
https://www.clackamas.us/diversity. A full copy of the recently passed
resolution is available at
By Ben Simpson/MT