Portland writer Masimbaashe Zvovushe, who also writes under the name Jagger Blaec, penned a Perspective essay for The Washington Post about her hatred of Portland. The essay, titled "I moved somewhere I hated for someone I love," tells the story of Zvovushe's decision to move to Portland, and what she found when she got here.
Zvovushe writes that her boyfriend wanted to move here. The couple had lived in Connecticut previously, where Zvovushe had lived for most of her life.
"When pondering the move, I couldn't stop Googling about Portland; I knew that any additional information could make it easier for me to find an excuse not to go," she writes. "In hindsight, I probably should've done even more research before uprooting my life."
Here's what Zvovushe says she should have researched about Portland: A major thing is the now often-cited fact that Portland is the whitest large city in the United States:
Everything you hear about Portland is true: The food is so fresh that my first time in a produce aisle literally left me in awe. And everyone who lives in Portland is obsessed with nature, so I’ve tried to embrace the trees and stuff.
But there is more to life than trees.
It’s everything you don’t hear about Portland that makes me hate it here. A little more research may have shown me that Portland is the whitest large city in the country. According to 2016 census data, Portland, a city of about 640,000 people, is 76 percent white and just 6 percent black. I might have learned that, when Oregon entered the United States in 1859, it outlawed slavery but also required all African Americans to leave and became an “all-white” state — laws that were reversed only as recently as 1922. I might have learned that the city remains a bastion for white supremacists.
As a Portlander, Zvovushe says she was not welcomed to practice weirdness the way white people do.
While living here, I’ve discovered that the “Keep Portland Weird” ethos is reserved for white people, as are many other aspects of the city. The facade of pseudo-liberalism here causes some people to deny just how racist this city can feel. I experience microaggressions on a daily basis here.
This is something other people of color have noted. It's something we heard from Portland Vegans of Color founder Emiko Badillo, who discussed the same topic with us a few years ago.
Zvovushe says things are different for her husband, who is white.
Most important, though, I feel invisible here. While my husband, who is white, continues to build a home here, I don’t think I’ll ever feel at home in Portland.
You can read the full essay here.