More details emerge on PBOT’s ‘Plan to Become an Antiracist Organization’

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

For an agency that once made traffic safety their number one priority, recent protests in support of Black Lives Matter have exposed a hard truth: Initiatives like Vision Zero are meaningless if they don’t address the root causes of racism, harassment and discrimination people of color face on our streets every day.

To their credit, the Portland Bureau of Transportation was working on this issue long before protests flared up in the wake of George Floyd’s death. In 2011 PBOT did an about face on the North Williams Avenue project when local residents raised concerns about gentrification and legacy of racism. They also changed course on a neighborhood greenway project in the King Neighborhood when some Black residents raised similar concerns, ultimately leaving it up to them to decide whether or not a diverter should be installed.

Back in June PBOT Director Chris Warner vowed to steer the agency to becoming an “antiracist organization”. But as we saw with the rollout of the Safe Streets Healthy Business permit program, this organizational shift is a work in progress.

So what exactly will it entail? Details were slim until a July 30th meeting of the Central City in Motion Working Group where a PBOT staffer shared a bit more about what we can expect.

Here’s what we know so far about PBOT’s “Plan to Become an Antiracist Organization”:

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1: Workforce Support and Accountability
– Required equity and antiracist training for managers and supervisors
– Revamp talent recruitment strategy and enhance existing internship program
– Antiracist speaker series

2. Transportation Policy Intervention
– Complete transportation justice framework and refresh Racial Equity Plan*.
– Review and revise (if necessary) existing policies, plans, and practices.
– Conduct regular focus groups with Black community organizations.

3. Supporting and Empowering Black Portland
– Black Portland Matters art initiative and COVID-19 frontline communities partnership
– Complete History of Racist Transportation Planning in Portland
– Black Transportation Academy

4. Re-imagining the Right of Way Using a Racial Equity Framework
– Street renaming in coordination with other citywide actions (statues, parks, etc.)
– Evaluate PBOT program outcomes to ensure alignment with racial equity goals.
– Assess and address infrastructure priorities with Black-serving organizations.

It’s good to see a few more specifics emerge on this plan. Stay tuned for more coverage and details on various elements like the speaker series, art initiative, transportation academy, and so on.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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Toby Keith
Toby Keith
2 years ago

How is an organization like PBOT in a ultra liberal city like Portland currently a “racist” organization?

9watts
2 years ago
Reply to  Toby Keith

What makes you think they wouldn’t be, wouldn’t have perpetuated racist policies of yore? Those practices don’t just evaporate; they must be recognized as such and rooted out, which is what this item on the list, I think, is about:
– Complete History of Racist Transportation Planning in Portland

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  Toby Keith

Go to a PBOT budget meeting. The top management are almost entirely white, though there is a good mix of gender. (To be sure, so are the other engineering bureaus like water and BES.)

Jon
Jon
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Keep in mind that if every profession in the Portland Metro Area matched the makeup of the region, for every 100 person organization 76 would be white (non-Hispanic), 11 would be Hispanic, 6 would be Asian, 3 would be black, 1 would be native/Alaskan, 4 would be two or more races. Due to rounding errors those numbers don’t add up to 100. Engineering is over-represented by Asians and under-represented by Hispanics and blacks. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland_metropolitan_area#:~:text=White%3A%2081.0%25%20(Non%2D,%25%20Korean%2C%200.4%25%20Japanese)

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon

We are assuming, of course, that every distribution should mirror the makeup of the overall population. I think that is a spurious assumption.

What would the makeup of the Blazers be?

Emily
Emily
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon

And please keep in mind, very few minorities are in excetutive positions where they are exclusively white. As David has mentioned, PBOT executive staff is all white.

Sure, companies will hire minorities, but will exclude women and POC from management level positions.

https://corpgov.law.harvard.edu/2019/02/05/missing-pieces-report-the-2018-board-diversity-census-of-women-and-minorities-on-fortune-500-boards/

If PBOT really want change/address equity, then promote a POC to the board.

Emily
Emily
2 years ago
Reply to  Kana O.
Kcommentee
Kcommentee
2 years ago
Reply to  Emily

Sure, but that boss of that team is Millicent (article linked by Kana) who is a black woman. Same is true of Irene Marion on that team page you linked, but she’s not pictured. Far from perfect and yes Chris Warner is a white man, but I don’t want these black women leaders to be overlooked.

Emily
Emily
2 years ago
Reply to  Kcommentee

Thank you Kana and Kcommentee for your points of view. I’m taking your views to heart.

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/530964

8 people listed under office of director, no POC.

Kana O.
Kana O.
2 years ago
Reply to  Emily

Glad we straightened that out…

Returning to your original claim (“If PBOT really want change/address equity, then promote a POC to the board”), appointing a POC to an executive position is neither a prerequisite for doing impactful equity work nor a guarantee that that work will get done; there are plenty of people of color with policy ideas, preferences, and mindsets that will not get us any closer to erasing identity-based disparities. Agitating for more POC leadership (which we have) for the sake of having POC leadership is probably more a symbolic action than one likely to create the widespread changes you and I want to see.

Emily
Emily
2 years ago
Reply to  Kana O.

“…there are plenty of people of color with policy ideas, preferences, and mindsets that will not get us any closer to erasing identity-based disparities”

What you are describing are white values. These are not values of POC. See Jonathans description of ant-racist below.

POC do not feel that their positions are symbolic. Would you say women leadership positions as symbolic? of course not…so give that same empathy and compassion to POC?

POC leading PBOT would tell other minorities that their commitment to be anti-racist starts at the top.

POC want change in leadership. White folks…not so much.

Lots of research on why minority leadership matters:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/another-reason-top-managers-are-disproportionally-white-men/

https://fisher.osu.edu/blogs/leadreadtoday/blog/the-importance-of-minority-leader-representation

https://associationsnow.com/2020/06/leading-during-a-pandemic-why-diverse-leadership-matters-more-than-ever/

https://hbr.org/2002/11/dear-white-boss

Hello, Kitty
Hello Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Emily

What are “POC values”? The notion that “values” and “race” bear any relationship to each other is highly questionable.

Emily
Emily
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello Kitty

Here is another way to look at your statement. Replace POC with women and gender:

What are “women values”? The notion that “values” and “gender” bear any relationship to each other is highly questionable.

Would you say that about women? if not, then why would you question POC?

Hello, Kitty
Hello Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Emily

Indeed… what are “woman values”? Or “man values” for that matter?

Ted
Ted
2 years ago
Reply to  Emily

Thank you Emily, THAT is an excellent example of exclusion and white bias.

Racism is everywhere and in our everyday choices and the words we say. Be anti-racist indeed.

Hello kitty, care to explain why POC and womens values are highly questionable by you, a white man? In an intelligent manner that matches Emilys fact based statement?

Hello, Kitty
Hello Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Ted

I am saying that I question the existence of some set of “values” that can primarily be attributed to or that are somehow unique to any particular gender or racial group.

If you want to suggest any examples, I’d be happy to consider them.

Ted
Ted
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello Kitty

Got it, you as a white man, were invited to show facts and respond w intellectual dialogue as a sign of respect to others. Discuss adults.

Instead you deflect and decline to back up your racist judgmental opinion of minorities and women with evidence and facts. Highlighting lack of your facts here.

On the other hand, a woman presented evidence, white papers, articles, etc. Was respectful, and showed compassion and respect for others.

You a white man, didn’t respond w same kindness, does not feel empathy or remorse. Got it.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Ted

If I question the existence of something, what sort of “facts” do you want me to present? I cannot prove a negative, and I am open to considering the possibility that I am wrong. The easiest way to convince me it is to present a clear example of a value or set of values that is specific to a race or gender. Simply becoming increasingly abusive is not likely to sway me, though it is likely to entertain a certain segment of the readership.

If all you have to add to the discussion is to call me racist without cause, then I will bow out.

Adam
Adam
2 years ago
Reply to  Emily

Are these POC women representative of the POC and women values?:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candace_Owens

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond_and_Silk

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  Emily

Many of the top 8 (and most of their underlings) are “classified employees” who can’t be dismissed or fired by the mayor, but only for serious crimes such as bribery or murder. They are gradually promoted through a complex system of internal merit and politics. The PBOT Director on the other hand is hired or dismissed by the mayor (but managed by the transportation commissioner), as are some of the deputies. I may be wrong, but I think the PBOT communications director, chief traffic engineer, and planning director are also directly appointed by the mayor.

Trying to change any bureaucratic culture is very hard, it takes years of constant and consistent pressure. The move from an all-white-male culture at PBOT to one of mixed gender even at the senior level is all the more amazing when you discover that most other city and state DOTs in the USA still have overwhelmingly white male management. Portland’s change of gender culture is largely due to a consistent policy by both Katz and Adams to push diversity not only at the top, but also at the bottom (interns, which they have some influence on) and the middle (no political influence except by persuasion).

Emily
Emily
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Thank you, David for you insightful comments! I learned something today.

$4000istoomuch
$4000istoomuch
2 years ago
Reply to  Emily

I believe BikeLoudPDX’s leadership is all white (and has been since its inception).

***Spider man pointing at spider man meme***

RudiV
RudiV
2 years ago

You need to have yourself kidnapped and deprogrammed Maus.

RudiV
RudiV
2 years ago

Mostly I just wanted to see if you’d post it 😉 Props for doing so.

It’s hard to counter an argument that starts with such a large assumption, “The entire structure of the systems that govern city planning are based on white supremacy and racism.” Why not just start here instead? “White supremacy is the most powerful force in the history of the universe. It is stronger than gravity and exists outside of time.”

I’m having a hard time grasping how the policies you’re advocating are anti-racist in anyway at all. Traffic deaths are up. The 1 month homicide total for last month is a 30 year high. The policies you’re advocating kill. Furthermore they kill black people dis proportionally. How is that “anti” racist?

9watts
2 years ago
Reply to  RudiV

I am trying (and failing) to wrap my head around two things your posts evidence, RudiV:

(1) you (along with Toby Keith and MotRG) are clearly not trying to understand, are actively in denial about what is wrong here, delight in silly gotcha commentary, refuse to listen, and
(2) receive tons of upvotes for your know-nothing posts.

What happened to bikeportland? We used to have conversations, arguments, exchanges that were substantive, nuanced, interesting. Fortunately there are still some folks here in this thread fighting the good fight (thanks KanaO, David Hampsten, Emily, one) but my impression is that many of the others have been scared off. Is this the best we can do?

Toby Keith
Toby Keith
2 years ago
Reply to  9watts

Your arrogance and attempts to dominate every thread you engage in have not exactly gone a long way in encouraging conversation. Many people have observed it here. Your crack about “know-nothing” posts are pretty good example.

RudiV
RudiV
2 years ago
Reply to  9watts

It seems to me that you’re the one not making any arguments or providing any evidence. Once again, July’s murder count in Portland is a 30 year high for the city. This sad fact is right on trend. It’s being repeated in cities across the country and it’s victims are dis-proportionally black. One could argue that this is a result of pressures from covid and unemployment I suppose, but it’s hard to believe the sustained assault on policing led by the left hasn’t played some role. I know arrogant self-righteousness feels better, but how about honestly looking at the results of your beliefs, actions, and policies for a change?

And yes, what has become of bikeportland? Why does every organization that catches the woke cancer abandon its previous mission and become about wokeness? That’s what this article is about in the case of PBOT.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 years ago
Reply to  9watts

Yes, we should all agree with each other because it feels good.

9watts
2 years ago

I never said anything about agreeing.
You and RudiV and Toby Keith do not present as good listeners, as inclined to learn from those you troll here. Some folks here take the time to formulate an argument, defend it using data (as needed), listen, engage, while others mostly jeer.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 years ago
Reply to  9watts

Perhaps the people using humor to punch holes in things are very good listeners but simply do not share your viewpoint.

9watts
9watts
2 years ago

That is of course a possibility, but having sparred with you here in these pages for a great many years my takeaway is that your delight in taking jabs at what you perceive to be the snowflakes has displaced any interest in listening. I’d be delighted to be proven wrong.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 years ago
Reply to  9watts

I don’t think you’ve been listening hard enough.

9watts
9watts
2 years ago

always a possibility.

Hello, Kitty
Hello Kitty
2 years ago

Do you realize how many Black people have been killed by traffic cops who pulled them over for minor infractions?

I don’t. I tried to find this data, and could not (I did find a Washington Post reference to 107 people killed by police in traffic stops nationwide in 2015, but could not see the context, and assume that this includes pretext stops that are not really about traffic enforcement at all.)

Do you know how many people are killed by traffic cops as the result of routine traffic enforcement? I would love to compare those numbers with the magnitude of the problem of dangerous driving so we can make an informed evaluation about whether the problems with enforcement outweigh the problems with non-enforcement.

RudiV
RudiV
2 years ago

I don’t have the exact number of black people who’ve been killed by traffic cops after being pulled over for minor in fractions. One can get a pretty good idea of the number of un-armed blacks that are shot by police each year from the WaPo database, and it’s somewhere between 9 and 25 in a nation of 360 million.
If one makes the fairly reasonable assumption that most people killed by police in traffic stops are likely to have been shot by them, it’s probably not much more than that.

I’d also point out that the number of un-armed non-blacks shot by police in similar circumstances is double the number of blacks, which would seem to belie the idea that these incidents are the result of “institutional racism”, though I will grant you that blacks are somewhat over-represented in relation to their percentage of the total population. This could be caused by any of a number of factors or combinations of factors though, including of course racial bias. The idea that the univariate cause is “institutional racism” though, is basically a form of fundamentalism.

Finally I don’t understand how you can fight “white supremacy” when it doesn’t even seem like you can define it. The definition seems to expand and contract to fit any and all situations.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 years ago
Reply to  RudiV

And it has now become “if you are not anti-racist, you are racist.”.

The moving moral goalposts is not dissimilar to to the evangelicals – there is a continual creeping towards public shows of ideological purity.

JBone
JBone
2 years ago

Agreed. Having grown up in the fundamentalist Christian movement of 70’s/early 80’s, it’s all too familiar to me. James Dobson, Bill Gothard, etc have been replaced by Ibram Kendi, Robin DiAngelo, etc.
John McWorter has some thoughts on this https://reason.com/2020/06/29/kneeling-in-the-church-of-social-justice/

mh
2 years ago
Reply to  JBone

Thank you for that link. I’ve loved John McWhorter’s podcasts on language for years, but had not previously read him. And he’s right about the religious flavor/fervor. And I’m a lifelong agnostic.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 years ago

How many have not been killed? I’d love to know the percentage of traffic stops that result in murder. Obviously, that number should be zero – but can you tell us how many stops go completely normally?

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 years ago

Just before I left Portland, probably early 2015 I think, an African-American gentleman from the City Auditor Office gave a very concise lecture about several of the different types of racism to the PBOT budget committee while I was still on it. I wish I had a video of the lecture, he was really good at explaining the difference between personal racism, organizational, institutional, and structural. Very few employees at PBOT are consciously racist (I met one or two, but they were good at hiding it); the civil and traffic engineering profession is overwhelmingly white, has been for eons, and its members make artificial barriers for entry into the profession that yields a predominantly white and male body, much more than population in general (an example of institutional racism and sexism); the upper management at PBOT and other engineering agencies such as Water, BES, & ODOT are predominantly white, and since PBOT has in the past hired upper management from other similar agencies, this becomes a problem of both organizational and institutional racism. And as you mention, the redlining, a history of deliberate lack of investment in poor areas (and overinvestment in rich areas), etc. all contribute to structural racism. But it’s not just building bike paths and bike lanes, it’s also how PBOT handles land use review cases – do they give Adidas a free hand on their parking because they agreed to build in (at the time) a poor black neighborhood? Were they more strict about code enforcement and responding to complaints in Irvington?

Portland isn’t any less segregated than Deep South cities, they are just more subtle on how they enforce segregation. As usual, the real test of this new policy will be in the poorest most racially diverse part of Portland, East Portland, versus areas like Sellwood or the Pearl, on code enforcement and how quickly they complete projects (or not).

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 years ago

I am curious with the concept of “anti-racist”. Where is the victory line – because this seems like a thing that will have moving goalposts.

one
2 years ago

https://www.ibramxkendi.com/how-to-be-an-antiracist-1 It looks like Jonathan may be referencing Kendi’s book. I am also an antiracist. Middle of the Road Guy, come on over towards the left a little and read some of our favorite books.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 years ago
Reply to  one

One,
you’d be surprised to know that I am somewhat left leaning on many things (healthcare, environment, education). I actually did my masters degree in transportation policy and how to get people into other modes and reduce emissions – but that was when I already knew everything and how other people should live their lives.

However, while left-leaning, I am not a Leftist.

I’ll read that if you promise to read some Jordan Peterson 🙂

One
2 years ago

Left of center, you say? I looked up Peterson. He is hailed as a right wing anti woman bigot. “ Jordan Peterson is also a right-wing internet celebrity who has claimed that feminists have “an unconscious wish for brutal male domination,” referred to developing nations as “pits of catastrophe” in a speech to a Dutch far-right group, and recently told a Times reporter that he supported “enforced monogamy.” Fox News loves him.

Now will you look up Kendi?
“ Author and historian Ibram X. Kendi claims there’s no such thing as being ‘not racist.’ He explains that even inaction (simply being ‘not racist’) in the face of racism is, in fact, a form of racism. The idea of an innocent bystander is wishful thinking for Kendi; instead, there’s only racism and antiracism:

“There’s no such thing as “not racist”

If racism means both racist action and inaction in the face of racism, then antiracism means active participation in combating racism in all forms”

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 years ago
Reply to  One

That is how Leftists describe him because he eviscerates Leftists – generally with Logic and Reason.

Naturally, Conservatives love that because he provides great arguments that they usually cannot think of – but that does not make him a Far-Rightist. It’s more of “an enemy of my enemy” type of thing. He’s simply very critical of the far-Lefties and against Authoritarianism – which is what many people believe far-Leftism is a form of. He is especially vocal about the policing of language and words.

I encourage you to actually read his writings. He describes his stances quite clearly and eloquently and I would not rely on those who he skewers to provide accurate representations of him. Far easier to create caricatures of those who are critical of us as a way to dismiss them. “Thugs”, “old white men”, etc., all words that people use to dismiss the opinion of someone else as not being worthy of listening to.

Personally, I cannot stand the Alt-Right as much as I can’t stand the Far-Left, but there is nothing in Peterson’s writings and interviews that indicate he supports them.

One
2 years ago

We don’t have a far left and you know it. https://mobile.twitter.com/jules_su/status/1148278902919442434

Adam
Adam
2 years ago
Reply to  One

You’re superficial look up of Peterson’s reputation has given you a very poor understanding of his viewpoints. He is not a right-wing anti-woman bigot. If you really want someone to be interested in what you’ve read you should take them up on their suggestion for what you should read. An exchange of ideas, if you will. Pick up Peterson’s book or listen to some of his lectures and various appearances on long-form podcasts and debates, then come back and try to argue how he is a right-wing anti-woman bigot. I for one am planning on reading Kendi soon after I finish Homo Deus by Yuval Harari.

JBone
JBone
2 years ago
Reply to  One

My 15 y/o son read Kendi for a book club last month so the wife and I joined him. In short we weren’t impressed with his scholarship but it was a good window into the distorted narrative that is corrupting the current conversations around race (and culture). One of the interesting concepts was ‘uplift suasion’, an argument against civil norms. Coleman Hughes did a review that I mostly agree with https://www.city-journal.org/how-to-be-an-antiracist.

$4000istoomuch
$4000istoomuch
2 years ago

“and elsewhere in your life.”

Your Portland “progressive” lifestyle depends on extreme global poverty — the epitome of structural racism. How about working to abolish USAnian mass-murder, militarism, and brutal socioeconomic oppression before centering white liberal navel-gazing.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 years ago
Reply to  $4000istoomuch

Soren, is that you?

Hello, Kitty
Hello Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

What are the “artificial barriers” to entering the engineering profession? Please don’t say “math”.

Tom
Tom
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello Kitty

Yes the engineering profession is predominantly white and Asian, that’s the direct result of the demographics studying and graduating in engineering. If anything there are tons of engineering positions going unfilled today. I’d find it hard to believe there are engineers not able get into the profession. That’s why the H1B visa is a big deal in engineering and tech.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello Kitty

2+2=5

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello Kitty

The “artificial barriers” have more to do with professional certification (P.E.) and who is allowed to move up in management, both within an organization/company/agency and professionally. It’s sort-of replicated in planning and a lot of other fields. Typically the promotion is based on merit (various tests and time worked) plus various interviews of applicants. If the interviewers are all white male (as is often the case), an applicant has to not only interview well, but also overcome any biases of those doing the interviews, which is harder for those who are not of the same culture, gender, or race of the interview panel or individual.

Jon
Jon
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

No engineer at Intel or any of the tech or manufacturing industry needs a PE or other certification besides an engineering degree and nobody outside the architecture industry cares about those certifications. There are tons of Indians (not native) and Asians in upper level and mid management engineering at tech and manufacturing companies. There is a serious shortage of people willing to do the work to get an engineering degree and if you do your job well you will get promoted regardless of your skin color – at least from what I’ve seen first hand.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello Kitty

Jon, I see your point. A private industry that is more concerned about profits is more likely to be non-racist and is more motivated to hire the best from no matter where they come from. However there’s overwhelming evidence of sexism in the private tech industries, which is probably more of a society bias on who is educated from an early age in STEM, as well as not hiring African-Americans.

The public sector that PBOT is a part of isn’t interested in profits, and its shareholders are taxpayers who want their funds spent in a certain way, typically paying employees the lowest wage possible. Its shareholders insist on a workforce that meets certain social criteria that may or may not have anything to do with the general availability or job pool of potential employees. Some foreigners have or do work at PBOT, but nearly all have a green card or have since gotten US citizenship, but nothing like the high-tech industries. And PBOT’s ability to “outsource” is severely constrained by both law and by custom – most DOTs prefer to “internalize” jobs as much as possible “to save taxpayer dollars”, even though many other DOTs have successfully done the opposite.

The certification issue tends to be strongest in highly-unionized workplaces (PBOT is over 90% unionized, as are all other public sector agencies in Oregon; public employee unions are illegal in many states including NC). And I’m quite aware that private civil engineering firms are just as motivated on certification. But I’m glad to hear that other industries don’t really care about certification.

Hello, Kitty
Hello Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

As a member of the public, I very much care that the engineers who build the bridges, buildings, and the other bits of infrastructure I pay for and use are certified to know what they’re doing.

Even with certification, plenty goes wrong (many innocuous looking errors can have catastrophic consequences). I would not want our infrastructure built without oversight of an engineer whose basic competency has been vouched for by an objective process of evaluation.

If you work for Intel, your skills (or lack thereof) are Intel’s problem. If you work for the city, they are everyone’s.

Kiel Johnson / Go By Bike
Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
2 years ago

In other western democracies they talk a lot less about race and a lot more about class. In my experience people do not have much of an understanding of how class effects inequality in USA. I wonder what it would look like if we addressed class power structures?

Our history and that of other countries show that when we address class inequalities it helps people who have been effected by racism more than a speaker series.

It could also be that our current conversations about race lead to more policies that address class differences.

Hello, Kitty
Hello Kitty
2 years ago

It could also be that our current conversations about race lead to more policies that address class differences.

The difference being if we focused on class (which is a much more proximate explanation for most of the equity issues we are contending with), we’d be drawing on a larger pool of potential supporters.

Focusing on race creates division and makes it more difficult to make progress (except, of course, in those cases where race really is the proximate issue).

See you at the speaker series!

Kiel Johnson / Go By Bike
Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
2 years ago

Black Transportation Academy sounds pretty cool but what does it mean? A masters in planning program at PSU and provide full scholarship to black portlanders?

One of the things PBOT could do to help get more black portlanders involved with the bicycling economy would be to offer scholarships to UBI bike mechanic school or help start one at Portland Community College. If they asked local bike shops we would also contribute.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 years ago

In my community of Greensboro NC (and many others) the city offers a “citizen’s academy” and a “citizens police academy”, with an equal representation of community members from each council district. Some districts are more popular than others during the application process, so nonprofit leadership, women, and visible minorities are given priority when there are a lot of applicants. The citizen’s academy a 16-week “course” one evening a week in the fall (Thursdays in my community) in which community participants meet at different bureaus and learn about the workings of each bureau, what they do, who does what, they even have fun entertaining hands-on exercises. Of course what you learn is a sugar-coated version of who they really are – they show you what they want you to see, not necessarily what you want to see. But it is a good opportunity to meet and ask questions of top management that I’ve found helpful later on as a community advocate.

Related to this whole process are the exercises each bureau does – there is a very intense competition between bureaus to have the most fun exercises that gets them recognition by council afterwards. For years the Fire Department always won, with participants putting out fires, driving the fire engines with flashing lights and sirens, working as a team on controlling the huge hoses, all in their training facility. Eventually the police caught on by having “drive alongs” in which individual participants would be in their passenger seat witnessing routine police procedures, including the boring paperwork, but also visiting the shooting range, learning tactics, wearing armor, etc – hence the later citizen police academies (I’ve never done it, but I know others who have and absolutely loved it.) Now even the maintenance and parks bureaus are getting into it, with riding lawnmower, shoveled asphalt, and recycling competitions.

The whole thing is free for the participants, except the time involved and some reading before each class. It costs the city quite a lot in personnel costs and vehicle time, but they benefit by creating a larger and more diverse pool of candidates for city boards and commissions (rather than just retired white people). And the participants act as sympathetic liaisons between the city agencies and their community. (It’s a form of brainwashing I suppose, but then all education is, isn’t it?)

Tom
Tom
2 years ago

I hope you are kidding about PBOT encouraging black people to become bike mechanics. Let’s go for better paying jobs like engineers and planners if this is about lifting up communities.

Kiel Johnson / Go By Bike
Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom

See my above comment about the need to address class inequality.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 years ago

It will be pretty funny when it is determined that BIPOCs want more parking, less congestion, and more pavement capacity.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 years ago

That’s typically the case here in the Deep South. The poorer you are, the more likely you support (and even use) public transit (over 80% of our transit users are black, versus 40% of the overall population); the closer to college age you are, the more likely you support and use bicycle facilities (according to the 2010 census, a majority of Greensboro NC cyclists are black college students); and the better off you are no matter your race, the more you support repaving city streets, building bypasses, reducing speed enforcement funding, building more parking ramps, and raising speed limits. Being BIPOC doesn’t necessarily mean supporting the exact same things as white liberals support – I’ve even met many black and Asian MAGA supporters here who are also registered Democrats.

dwk
dwk
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Oh, yes there are tons of black MAGA supporters…..laughable…
Projecting your own views…

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  dwk

And I know many registered republicans, including BIPOC voters, who view the other guy as a moderate republican (as he would be in the 70s) and plan on voting for him accordingly. We humans are complex creatures.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I think you nailed it…white liberals do seem to think that they know what minorities want, because that is what they want for minorities. And I think many minorities pick up on the white saviorism (intentional or not).

Tom
Tom
2 years ago

To be fair it’s not a liberal thing. White people have been telling people how to live and what to believe in for centuries.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Tom, that is entirely true. It’s a little ironic to me that the people who are supposedly against it still do it.

PTB
PTB
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Is this just a people thing? People like telling other people how to live and what to believe in for time immemorial.

RudiV
RudiV
2 years ago

A speeding car killed my beloved dog on the quiet street right in front of my house last friday afteroon. But yeah lets abandon vision zero in favor of some meaningless woke bullshit that makes us feel good. Vision zero is too hard!!! Leftists are garbage.

maxD
maxD
2 years ago
Reply to  RudiV

RudiV,
I am terribly sorry to hear about your dog. Dangerous drivers are a horrible plague and appear to be getting worse during the pandemic

RudiV
RudiV
2 years ago
Reply to  maxD

Thank you. I’m devastated. Can’t eat can’t sleep. Getting a lot of riding in though because I can’t be home, alone. I got her ashes back yesterday along with a little plaster of paris paw print. I found myself sniffing it, hoping that it would smell like her.

I suppose eventually this will pass but I don’t want it to cuz then she’s really gone and it’s all, “hey remember that little dog you had way back when? What was her name?” I don’t want that world. I want my dog with her head in my lap.

cmh89
cmh89
2 years ago
Reply to  RudiV

Can you abandon something you never actually adopted? PBOT is busy making our roads wider and faster while fighting tooth and nail against any change that would mildly slow down SOV traffic.

casual observer
casual observer
2 years ago

This all looks very good and will be great to see how it develops and is implemented. Might be a good structure for other business to follow. This isn’t meant to be an all lives matter comment, but is there any plan for multiple items #3 for Empowering Hispanic Portland, or Empowering Asian Portland? Or, conducting focus groups with other minority community organizations around the city? Seems like a logical next step or phase, especially around projects in east Portland or SE Portland.

Hello, Kitty
Hello Kitty
2 years ago

For an agency that once made traffic safety their number one priority…

Is safety no longer PBOT’s top priority? If so, that would represent a very disappointing turning point for the agency.

maxD
maxD
2 years ago

Equity is a great goal, but I hope PBOT will work to make things equally safe rather than equally unsafe, but given their recent track record…

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello Kitty

HK, I served on the PBOT budget committee from 2009-15, and in that 7-year period PBOT’s official priorities changed from “safety”, to “neighborhood livability”, to “equity”, then “Vision Zero”. But we also had some wonderful opportunities to sit down with actual underprepared senior engineering management and ask them what they think PBOT’s priorities are: “We select projects based on how much additional funding we can leverage and a minimum of political fuss.” I suspect this is still PBOT’s predominant operating priority, especially during budget cuts.

mh
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Ouch. That sounds like not just the ring of truth, but a resoundingly hard whack on that bell.

Brendan
Brendan
2 years ago

PBOT will struggle with this. How can they prioritize the traffic flow of all people and especially black/brown/native communities when they already prioritize the traffic flow according to business/wealthy demands?

It’s akin to what is happening at many organizations. We are in a dire financial depression and attempting to correct 100s of years of social ills at the same time.

PBOT would completely have to change their algorithm for how they design traffic and allocate resources.

It’s a worthy cause, but they just mean their HR and recruiting department are changing to not be racist.

bike ped planner
bike ped planner
2 years ago

“Initiatives like Vision Zero are meaningless if they don’t address the root causes of racism, harassment and discrimination people of color face on our streets every day.”

Really? Nice dichotomous thinking going on there. Indeed, VZ can and should be cognizant of how the specific policies and actions may have inherent bias, or may enable bias. But to claim they are meaningless otherwise? Not to mention that things like “equity” are highly subjective and can be manipulated to advance specific agendas which in turn can in fact be shown to be inequitable, and thus the whole thing caves in on itself, failing under the weight of do-gooder machinations that take initiatives so far off track of their core aim.

Jonathan Krall
2 years ago

FWIW, one of Kendi’s main points is that racist outcomes, regardless of intent, are immoral. I would have been very encouraged to see “measure and correct racially disparate outcomes” as part of the PBOT plan. Perhaps pro-active anti-racist action (versus anti-racist teaching/training or reaction to BIPOC community pushback) is too much to hope for.

Champs
Champs
2 years ago

What it means for me is that after lobbying for traffic calming on my street, then joining a neighborhood coalition and finally getting through, PBOT now wants a Black community group to co-sign our request. I don’t see what is racist about speed bumps, but never mind that.

The problem I’m seeing is that this is a neighborhood coalition with multiple Black households like mine. We don’t need the blessing of a group led by people who don’t know or even live near us, we can speak for ourselves.

The minds at PBOT don’t seem to have considered this in their rush to antiracism, maybe making the point that the wrong people are drafting policy there.