All Hands on Deck

When Jomo Greenidge reached out to me to write for Black PDX, the theme he kept repeating was “All hands on deck.” At the time, we had no idea we were heading into a Donald Trump presidency and a blatant white supremacist occupation of Washington. There was already too much going on with our school systems, housing, police brutality, mass incarceration, and the list goes on, for Black Oregonians to continue being a community in name only. Thus, Black PDX was designed to do its part by connecting people to Black businesses, organizations, and events, as well as provide an outlet for Black youth to engage with tech behind the scenes.

If you’re wondering, yes, this is an ad for Black PDX, but more than that, it’s a call to get involved. There are a number of organizations out there and just as many, if not more opportunities to do your part independently.

Black PDX hopes to help connect members of Oregon’s Black diaspora to these resources. Our site’s features include a listing of Black businesses, which includes everything from construction companies to nonprofits to artists; a community calendar; and a blog to both foster conversation and highlight those that might not otherwise be highlighted in our community.

We understand that we are far from the first to devise these ideas and we very much anticipate competition. In fact, we encourage it. That’s how we push each other to be better at our craft.

What we don’t need, however, is to fight amongst each other. The time has long since passed to put aside the petty arguments, gossip, and grudges. I know I have mine and I can think of even more who probably feel the same about me. However, nothing from those situations is worth going to war over, which brings me to the choice many of us need to make. Are these disputes worth destroying your brother or sister? We don’t have to like each other. It can be all business. You do your thing. I do mine. When our interests intersect, we can collaborate and then go back our separate ways. What we can’t do, however, is continue trying to destroy each other, in many cases, on behalf of businesses our people even don’t own.

Meanwhile, those we’ve long known were lurking in the shadows–hiding behind computers, committees, and carefully crafted public statements–have declared war on us and the other historically oppressed groups of this country. White supremacists have been both openly celebrating the election results and threatening to ratchet up their activity. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there have already been over 700 “hateful attacks” since the election.

Oregon has certainly had its fair share. It only took two days for as many of my former schools to capture headlines for multiple racist incidents (Lake Oswego High School and the University of Oregon in case you were wondering). Whether we like it or not, this is the climate we now live in. Dealing with these issues on top of just living our lives is far from a new problem for Black people.

However, “All hands on deck” isn’t just a call to do what we must to survive. We don’t have the option to be that shortsighted. Yes, Trump won the presidency and Brexit happened, but the rest of the world is still going to move forward. To prepare not just our kids, but ourselves for that future, we need to go the extra mile.

If you know a talented, deserving young person who just needs an opportunity and you can help make it happen, do it. If working with a group you’re dedicated to means working with one or two people you can’t stand, suck it up, compartmentalize, and get the job done, or find somewhere else where you can. If you are interested in getting involved but need to learn more, whether that be how to interact with kids or how to manage money, find someone who can teach you. If that person isn’t Black, do it anyway. The purpose is bringing that knowledge back to your community, not satisfying some superficial checklist so you have a blacktastic story to tell.

We have the people. We have the talent. All the info we could possibly need is at our disposal. The only question is do we have the will? I believe we do and go-time is now. Black PDX will be here as a resource. All hands on deck!

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