Last week, WW examined an unusual dynamic in the race for an open seat on Portland's City Council ("Three's Company," WW, Nov. 22, 2017). Progressive activists have been urging white men not to enter the contest against three women of color: former state Rep. Jo Ann Hardesty, Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, and mayoral staffer Andrea Valderrama. Here's what readers had to say.
Robert Collins, via wweek.com: "What occurs to me is that the premise of the article is [some people think] 'white men' should step aside to give 'women of color a chance.' So I guess that means 'white men' are always going to win if they run. That seems to be a bigoted premise in itself.
"I don't care if they are pink, brown, blue, yellow, red or purple with pink polka dots. Let them file. Let them run. And let the best of them win."
R.O.W.L.F., via wweek.com: "Ah yes, the time-honored 'I don't care if they're purple/pink/blue' defense. Two questions:
"(1) When has 'purple' ever been a marginalized group?
"(2) If the idea of a City Council election without someone of your race in it gets your knickers in a twist, how do you think black people have felt the last 200 years?"
Rachel Manning, via Facebook: "Something I think about when it comes to my hometown is how to begin to repair the history of racial oppression and move towards equity. We know that the past has a long shadow."
James Lopez Ericksen, via Facebook: "There's a lot of 'let the best person win, we live in a democracy' sentiment on this page. What this fails to acknowledge is that we don't live in a world with an equal playing field. Thus, just to get to the starting line, because of privilege, different demographics experience discrimination: obstacles. And for voting for the best person, we need to acknowledge people's implicit bias. Unless there are people challenging the system and the white men who run it, nothing will change."
Babcock123, via wweek.com: "Am I a racist if I say that neither black candidate is qualified for office? Then again, none of the white folks on the council are doing a good job. Face it, all politicians are egomaniacs who love to see their name in the paper but couldn't manage a lemonade stand."
Econoline, via wweek.com: "You might not be a racist, but I certainly think you are wrong. Hardesty served in the United States Navy, and was elected to the Oregon House in 1994, holding office until 2001. She later served as executive director of Oregon Action, and became president of the Portland chapter of the NAACP in January 2015. Certainly seems to be qualified to run for City Council to me; she has already held a higher office for the better part of a decade, for Pete's sake."
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