During my five years living in Portland I had the honor of being the only [person of color] in my…friend group. The city’s musical exports are practically all white, as are our other celebrities and the most famous of our writers. Portland has been described again and again…as a hermetic place, and by the New York Times as a city with an “obsession with all things independent and artisan,”—it’s “West Coast urban cool” in a bubble. It’s all a little disconcerting when you consider that a 1993 edition of TIME magazine reported, “In the eyes of a skinhead, Portland, Oregon looks like the city of the future.” Portland is often praised for its livability, for being an ecotopia and a certain kind of alternative example of how conscious and well-informed people can live. The fact remains that the city is around 76 percent white. Surprisingly few people know that from Oregon’s birth onward the powers that be were determined that the state stay predominantly white.
…[some] may not remember what made Iran-Contra such an extraordinary scandal. The Reagan administration “raised money privately” by selling weapons to a sworn enemy of the United States. Why? Because it wanted to fund an illegal war in Nicaragua. And when I say “illegal war,” I mean that quite literally—Congress told the Reagan administration, in no uncertain terms, that Reagan could not send money to the Contras. Period. The Reagan administration, unrestrained by laws and the Constitution, did so anyway, and much of the president’s national security team ended up under indictment.