What Is the Hardest Part About Being a Black or Brown Person in Portland?

A collaboration with Renée Lopez (@misslopezmedia).

"I chose this question for my community, I wanted to give a voice to the people who look like me, to let them express how they feel in a safe way. Being a photographer, and person of color, I want to make people feel that they're truly being seen and heard, especially because I myself know how hard it is to be a brown woman in Portland." — Renée

"To me the hardest thing is not seeing other black people. I think we should see each other. I hear all the time that there are no black people in Portland, but there are. Even though there are a small amount of black people here, what matters is that we're still here. It wouldn't matter if there were 100 or 100,000, we're still here and we can do anything together."

"The looks that you get from people and the non-verbal communication—active and passive. My answer to the looks would be high-fives."

"The hardest part about being a person of color in PDX is that only people of color understand what it's like."

"Taking the time to give support and showing love within communities of color can become difficult when we are existing in times of injustice. The injustice we experience together brings anger and sadness that we have to overcome on a daily basis. We as people of color have that strength to be resilient and keep pushing forward through barriers. "

"It can be especially tough showing up to events, venues, bars or any social space and wondering if you're going to be the only brown face in a white space."

"The hardest part is finding your community and learning how to be comfortable in most of the white spaces where you're very visible. You'll walk into a space and feel like it's all eyes on you. Also, feeling hurt as a person of color because if you have no one to relate, then a lot of people will brush it off 'cause there's no one else to back you up or say what you're saying."

"I grew up in NE Portland, and have lived in Vancouver, Vegas and now again in
Vancouver, but I spend a lot of time in Portland. I have a quarter white in me, and I've seen both sides of everything because I'm interracial. When I was younger I didn't see color, but now growing up I see things for how they actually are. The hardest part is seeing people be so naive—people's lack of acknowledgement, and their arrogance to the African-American culture. When I hear comments, I don't like brushing it off, but people view the black community as aggressive and violent, and portray us as something that we're not. When I hear people say things I try to let them know that they're coming across wrong. I try to educate people so that the next time they won't say it to another person that might not use it as a chance to teach."

"Have you ever had someone tell you that they understand? That they are on your side and support you? Well the hardest part of being Black in Portland is that 'allies' claim they are understanding and then they say offensive things to you and when you try to call them on it they tell you how you are wrong for being offended by THEM as if THEY know what you have been through. They try to explain the black experience as if they were a part of it firsthand."

"The hardest part of being a brown person is Portland is coming from a place that's very diverse. The lack of culture here is difficult for me."