So...I'm going to be in Lake Oswego this Saturday at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts. I'm taking part in the "Comics Activism" panel. I've learned to pounce on these kinds of opportunities when they arise, as they allow me the opportunity to get in front of audiences outside of the Portland metro area and spread my gospel, so to speak. I view talking about racism, exclusion, and discrimination like some of y'all (white folx) view telling me about how you watched "Green Book" or "When They See Us" last night: it brings me great joy regardless of how visibly uncomfortable it might make someone feel. The difference in this flipped dichotomy is that I talk about these things from a lens of change and forward progress, to promote discourse and build a better understanding of the nuances of hate and white supremacy, not to impress folx or to make new friends. The only way we progress in any way is through actually trying to hear one another, even if it makes us feel bad about how complicit we may be in oppression. With that in mind, don't get it twisted: I always recognize that some situations are...dangerous. Messy. A risk.
That is what Lake Oswego is for me and many BIPOC.
I'm going into Lake Oswego to talk about oppression and activism with my negro sense blaring. I know the history of Oregon and Black folx; I know the history of Lake Oswego and Black folx. I know about how much work groups like Respond to Racism are trying to do in Lake Oswego. I understand that white folx are coming out to the Respond to Racism meetings. And honestly? That's great. Like I said, discourse is necessary for forward progress of any kind. But that doesn't change what Lake Oswego represents for many Black folx. It's still a dangerous proposition to go into an area like Lake Oswego and act like the potential for issues concerning my race arising isn't a possible outcome of just being present there. It's been two years since Lake Oswego began its efforts toward addressing the level of racism many of its citizens perpetrate on a regular basis. To think that enough progress has been made in two years' time for a BIPOC to go into Lake Oswego and feel safe would be erroneous thinking.
What I look like goin' to Lake Oswego, walkin' around like Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 3 when he had the symbiote without a care in the world?
Like a damn fool.
So...I'm going to be in Lake Oswego this Saturday at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts. I'm taking part in the "Comics Activism" panel. And said panel is made up of all persons of color. I'm looking forward to it. It should be a great platform and interesting experience.
But please believe the side-eye stay eternal y'all.
I hope to see some of y'all Saturday!