I was on the telephone, with my friend Ronni, who lives in Portland, when I was reading a copy of “Northwest Boomer and senior newsletter”. My eyes lit on the meeting at the Eugene city library, February 23rd, 2 PM, that said “why are there few black people in Oregon? A secret history.” And that was what their meeting was about. “It looks like you’re not supposed to be here, and you don’t exist,” I said to my friend who is black. “According to this, there aren’t any of you in Oregon. Only white people.”
“who the hell said that?” Replied my friend, very irritated;” so I don’t exist? And the rest of my friends don’t either? Who the hell do these people think they are? A secret history? What are they blabbing about?” “I know what they’re going to talk about,” I replied. “They’re going to tell about how the University of Oregon was founded by members of the Klu Klux Klan; and that Oregon was terribly racist and had lots of Klu Klux Klan members here, OH! – – And the reason why there are not huge numbers of black people here (the way they are supposed to be) is because we’re still very racist in Oregon, and the university is still really racist. I also saw these people’s video on YouTube, describing how segregated the very old university was.”
my friends laughing, very loud, resounded in my ear; “oh my, that is absolutely hysterical! Like all those black organizations at the University, don’t exist? And all the black student body especially during the 60s, didn’t exist? I guess that would leave out affirmative-action also;and all those African American political groups that were so active and involved in the University. And I guess the African-American PROFESSORS in the college don’t exist either?”
“Yes, and I guess the African-American studies programs don’t exist either. Wow! I guess these people in this group are running on hallucinatory mushrooms or something. Gee,Ronni,I guess you don’t exist after all!how you feel about that? At least you don’t have to pay taxes I guess, ha ha ha ha ha!”we laughed for a couple of more minutes.it was really a gas, what this “very discriminated against group” was agitating about.
What were they agitating about? THE PAST.the old and ancient past of Oregon, where there truly were Klu Klux Klan operating, and lots of members that were here. But, Oregon was typical among quite a few states in the United States that had very active Ku Klux Klan and segregation of black people.there was no mention in the propaganda of this meeting, about all the other states at that time in history who had even more active Klu Klux Klan, especially in the deep South.for some reason, this group had decided that little old OREGON, and the University of Oregon, were far worse than any of the other southern states, as far as discrimination of black people, and that’s why there were so few black people in Oregon. We were absolutely still racist to the edge.
I did call up this group, later on, to try and find out just exactly what its motives were, as to digging up the old past and skewering Oregon and the University with it. Just what were it’s motives anyway? I mean, history is one thing and it’s a good thing to read up on it. But as far as saying that “there are so few black people in Oregon, because it has such a horrible racist past, and it’s still racist and bad bad bad!” – – And deliberately not mentioning how racist the other states were, except for this one.
And that title was really misleading; “why are there so few black people in Oregon?” – Because of the very racist and Ku Klux Klan past in this state? Except that, all of that was completely gone. Vanished into the past. Oregon was one of the most liberal and left-wing and Democrats, and pro-ethnic diversity states and universities in the whole United States. so it was a little odd that they were accusing a very liberal left wing and Democrat state, of being anti-black?
I talked to the leader of the group, but I still couldn’t get any real answers. What was the reason for dredging all this up, and smearing Oregon with it? The only thing I could get out of them was, “Oregon is still completely racist, against black people, and all their disgusting past has to be dug up and exhibited to everybody.” I had to admit that it really did exist in history. But why, oh, why, was it to blame for tons of black people not coming here en masse, to enjoy the rain, freezing cold weather, snow, hail, and lots of GLOOM that they would absolutely just love instead of California or Miami?
so according to this group, the only thing that kept so many black people from flocking here, to enjoy all the snow and snow storms, frozen streets, broken pipes, rain, sleet, months of GLOOM without sunshine, was that nasty old Oregon and the also nasty University of Oregon, had such a bad nasty naughty anti-black person past. And that was still going on! Oh my oh my!
I had never thought about that before; was it really obvious that African American people just love all that nasty lovely wet and cold weather,and it seemed they wanted to come here in large groups and settle?among all the hippies? And all the unemployed and homeless? With the very high jobless rate, unemployment, and complete lack of jobs?and all the white trash? And the huge abundant amount of working poor? And they really longed to pay high prices for food, never see the sunshine all winter, watch their gardens get destroyed by super slugs, never be able to raise tomatoes instead of accidentally raising lots of banana slugs instead?
It just really never occurred to me before. I guess I had been blocking it out. And the fact that I had African American friends, here Kept me from realizing just how much all the other Black folk in California, and warmer climates were being kept From moving here, and getting used to all that wonderful freezing weather we had. It just never occurred to me, DARN! I didn’t really want to think that they too, desired to get up in the morning, put on huge fluffy coats, and shovel out 6 feet of snow hindering their cars and blocking their driveways.plus, skidding all over the icy black freezing highways, ending up in snowbanks, having to be pulled out by American automobile Association tow trucks.
I suppose they were tiring of lovely and warm, exotic and special Louisiana and St. Louis by now; and that they wanted so much to dessert all their family, and move here to this strange wonderful and not exotic or lovely, but somewhat green, state.not to mention all the great restaurants and cooking and FOOD. After all, Oregon has such great restaurants, full of vegetarianism, raw food, odd food, fast food. The South just couldn’t hold a candle with its Paul Prudomme, Cajun and Creole cooking, crawfish and seafood. Sigh. Corn bread, fried chicken, and other yummy yummys of the South, well, they were getting so tired of that – – they wanted to rough it in Oregon and go to Carl’s Junior instead.
I talked to some of my other friends about this, and they thought I was crazy.”why in hell would African-Americans want to move to Oregon in large groups? What the heck for? There wasn’t any employment, the welfare was all gone as or no food stamps here either. The government saw to that.” I guess they were just itching to compete with all that lower white trash here, for welfare and stuff like that? Sure, I’m sure they were. It was just our terrible discriminating segregating anti-black person past that was holding them back.
“I don’t think that a lot of my friends would want to dessert meat, barbecue, and go all vegan instead,” one of my African-American acquaintances,” sure, I like greens; but nothing but Greens, and no MEAT? In favor of “all organic vegetables”, macrobiotic diets, brown rice and veggie-burgers?? Your town is pretty low-down on food, if you ask me.”Gluten-free diets”? No bread??” He did some colorful language here, and I had to chuckle.”Damn, your town is taken over by YUPPIES!! “he continued.”Those self-important, “save the world instead of the U.S.”-type, who think it makes them Queen of the May to save all of Africa?!! OH, YEAH, I’d just LOVE to live among those snot-noses!! Not to mention–“he lowered his voice-“You got the whole population of GAY SAN FRANCISCO THERE!! SHIT, MAN. ” “Not really your cup of tea,then?” I replied. “No, I’ll pass on that. heh heh.” I had forgotten that he really liked WOMEN. And that did not include lesbian women.
It appeared that a few of my African-American friends had no desire to move to Eugene, or Lane County, or even visit here. “You got nothing there, honey. Those organic-range-chicken-eggs aren’t enough reason.” “Not the small organic boutique farms either?” “Boutique “organic” small farms, a good reason to not live there or go there. Not in my budget, Sandramina!”
And I had to agree that the COOKING HERE could not hold up to the Southern parts of the United States. Eugene Oregon thought that CUP-CAKES or TOFU were the be all and end all of cuisine; did I mention they have cake made out of BEETS HERE?
“I am not surprised you’re losing some weight, “said Ronni, from Portland.”Yeah, cake made of beets just somehow misses out compared to black bottom pie. mud pie. or black-bottom cupcakes. Or even Oreos. Sheet.” She then invited me to come up some time to Portland. cause she still knew old-time good cooking, and was pretty handy with an oven or a skillet. “Want me to bring anything?” I asked. “Just your appetite, sugar, “and she laughed that hearty laugh of hers. What was such a really good cook, doing in PORTLAND? The hipster city was lucky to have her.
What were the few black people doing in Oregon? Just unlucky I guess. They just were not aware of how racist Oregon and the university of Oregon was, nasty, segregationist, and heavily into that vanished KKK that used to be, and no longer was. UH…that is, “Why Are there so few black people in Oregon?”-group was well into it , being obsessed by it. The rest of us could easily live without it.