Doughnuts, Diversity, Delight and Danger in Portland Oregon

Why in the world would one travel to Portland, Oregon to talk about racism when Oregon has been dubbed the South of the North and Portland the whitest city in the United States?

That was the question I asked myself when I stepped off the plane and entered the airport. Whiteness was everywhere. I saw it and felt it. Nevertheless, I was there and was ready to make the most of my first trip to the state of Oregon and Portland.

Prior to arriving in the city a friend of mine suggested I take a taxi from the airport to my hotel. She specifically said, “people of color tend to get harassed on the Max (the train) so just to be safe take a taxi.” Growing up in Sioux City, Iowa I thought it can’t be that bad and so I decided to ride the Max anyway. Besides, the train ride only cost me $2.50 whereas a taxi ride would have cost me $50.00. Next time I will take my local friends advice. I’ll share more about that later.

I said yes to visiting Portland because I love to travel, it was an opportunity to share my message, I hadn’t been there before and I’m always up for a traveling adventure. I was there to host and kick off my 2017 SHETalks WETalk Race Talks for Women tour and how perfect to kick it off in the allegedly “whitest city in America.” At least this is what many of my online Portland friends say.

My train ride from the airport to my hotel was fairly smooth and I did not get harassed, thank goodness. However, I got off one stop later than I should have and had to walk 3-4 blocks to the hotel with my luggage. So glad I packed light. I was hoping for sunny weather, but in typical Portland fashion, it was raining. I rolled my luggage through downtown and was awe-struck by the beauty of the lush greenery. For a moment I thought I was in the rain forest.

Garden

Garden 2

Wow! Everything was so green and vibrant. You don’t often see moss growing on the trees in Omaha. It was a refreshing change to see such beautiful landscape. Although my walk was wet, I was able to get a feel for Portland, at least the downtown area. One thing is for sure, I didn’t see a lot of black and brown people and was beginning to wonder if the “Whitetopia” allegations were true.

I finally made it to my hotel; Hotel Rose. I don’t usually choose hotels that are not a part of big brand chains, yet I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed my stay at this “boutique” hotel with all the pineapple adornments.

hotel rose

munchies

Bed

I didn’t indulge in the pineapple munchies ($25.00 yeah right!) nor did I adopt the pup on the pillow; also $25.00. I did snuggle up with this lavish and plush duvet! Man, was this the best comforter ever! Now if it were for sale I would have bought it in a heartbeat! I will definitely stay at another StayPineapple Hotel again. In fact, I’ll be on the look out for one when I take my next adventure.

Portland is also known as a foodie city and home of the infamous food trucks. As a foodie myself, I was looking forward to sampling some of the local cuisine. After getting settled into the hotel, I took off walking to explore what Portland and the food trucks were all about. One thing was for sure; I wanted to try a few things I had not tried before and to be sure to support the local business owners of color.

My first stop was to sample the tacos! There’s nothing like an authentic taco. I didn’t use to be a taco fan until I moved to Dallas and tried authentic tacos from an inconspicuous little taco stand I wouldn’t have ever tried at first glance. It’s true, some “dives” have the best food. These two delicious chicken tacos (1.00 each) were the bomb! They were perfect as is. No salt or extra condiments necessary. I munched on these while strolling through downtown Portland.

tacos

There’s always that one place you gotta visit when you go to a new city. My Portland friends highly suggested I try Voodoo Doughnut. And of course, I love a good doughnut so I did. I got a little lost trying to find this legendary shop of yeasty deliciousness, but I was told to look for and follow the pink boxes. And yes, I saw lots of people walking around with the glorious box of goodness!

doughnut box

I was warned that the line to get doughnuts may be around the block and to be prepared to wait in line (see a typical long line in photo below). Must have been my lucky day because there were only 5 people ahead of me, but there were several people hanging around outside, taking pictures and snacking on doughnuts while sitting on the benches outside.

voodoo line 2

 

Once I made my way into this wacky and eclectic shop of sweets the choices were unlimited. I had a hard time trying to decide which doughnuts to get. I figured I couldn’t go wrong with a basic glazed doughnut and I opted for the bacon and maple long john.

voodoo inside

voodoo doughnuts

Ooowee! I was excited to try these doughnuts, but I saved them for later to enjoy at the hotel. And I’ll tell you what, the glazed doughnut was better than the maple/bacon long john! It was still warm, fresh, chewy and had just the right amount of glaze. They were delightful! I will definitely go back to try something else the next time I am in Portland. Look at all the crazy combinations they create.

doughnuts variety

Walking through downtown Portland reminded me of the Boston North End. There were lots of cobblestone streets and the streets were busy and narrow. I loved experiencing the North End in Boston and plan to go back one day soon. I did notice that the locals weren’t very outwardly friendly. And yet again, I didn’t see a lot of black and brown folks neither. So I continued on my food truck adventure to seek out ethnic cuisines and trucks owned by people of color.

After enjoying my tacos I decided to try Colombian food. I’ve had Empanadas before, but was hoping the Colombian version of them ($1.50) were better than what I experienced.

columbian truckempanadas.jpg

Unfortunately, they were not that good. They were cooked to perfection but lacked spice and flavor and the salsa didn’t help much. Oh well, at least I was supporting small business owners and my peeps of color. The owners were very lovely and friendly people so I’ll give them 5 stars for personality and customer service! So far I had only spent $3.50 on lunch and had room to try one more food truck before I headed back to the hotel.

And how glorious was my next stop! I’ve always wanted to try authentic Falafel! And it would be my luck again that the last food truck I ran into served Middle Eastern food! The owner of this truck was such a nice guy. He let me sample the best of what he offered (can’t remember the names) and his Falafel was stupendous! Man, it was crispy, crunchy and downright fantastic! I only ordered one and was now full, but I wish I had skipped the Empanadas and had 2-3 Falafel ($.100) instead. There is no doubt I will go back to his truck again and I have a feeling he will be there since he’s been in the same spot for 15 years. Thank you Noah for creating deliciousness for the world to experience!

falafel

I spent $4.50 on lunch, got some exercise in while lunching, supported business owners of color and got to check the vibe of downtown Portland. I’d say that was a successful, succulent adventure. It was now time to settle in and rest up for my 2-day weekend workshop for women. I was looking forward to this moment especially since it was the first stop in the national SHETalks WETalk Race Talks for Women Tour!

The next day I arrived at Broad Space! Broad Space is a women’s art and work collective based in Portland, Oregon. The space was born out of the need to connect women seeking personal growth space in both business and the arts. Broad Space provides means of networking both within the space, and the larger community. I was excited to meet my new friends, Kristin and Amy, the co-founders of Broad Space for the first time. We initially connected on Facebook and how wonderful it is to meet your Facebook friends in person.

kristin and amy

They were both gracious co-hosts and offered such great hospitality to my guests and I. We had an instant connection and I’m so grateful for them opening up their space to host the workshop in Portland.

broadspace

SHETalks WETalk workshops are a powerful moment when women come together for 2 days to talk about race and racism. A time when women learn how to have productive conversations about racism so they can create PROGRESS instead of PAIN during difficult conversations about racism. A weekend workshop where women learn how to be a strong and effective Ally and Accomplice for women of color.

Both days were a success! It was an intimate, intense and highly transformational moment for the attendees. We laughed, some cried, yet all of the people there left with tools and resources to help them unpack their own racism and take action to become an Ally/Accomplice for people of color with a sense of urgency.

Group 1

Portland Session 2

One of the exercises we did was to have participants practice having conversations with family members about racism; which are often the most difficult conversations to engage in. They learned effective tools to engage in productive conversations about racism.

me speaking

Speak. Travel. Write – My three favorite things to do. I absolutely love traveling to new places, exploring the city, culture and cuisine and captivating audiences with my Catriceology message. Speak. Travel. Write. I want to and will repeat this dream come true over and over again. I met some wonderful people with a genuine interest in making the world a less oppressive place for people of color. This is just the beginning. The Journey to Allyship is a marathon and not a sprint. I’m hopeful they will continue with a sense of urgency to do their part in eliminating racism. Talking about racism is not easy, in fact, its intense and requires a lot of emotional resiliency and dedication to not quitting when it gets tough and it always does. No matter what we must keep having these critical conversations about race and racism.

tamara and group

{special thanks to Tamara and Jennifer for capturing this moment on video}

As my trip came to an end, I still did not see a plethora of black and brown people. I purposely looked for them. Thank goodness there was a Cinco De Mayo festival across the street from the hotel. It gave me hope that there was some diversity in the city. I spent about an hour at the festival enjoying Mexican fruit cups, more tacos and other sweet and savory flavors of the Latinx culture while taking in the beauty of the waterfont.

My first trip to Portland was enjoyable. I think it’s worth visiting again even if it’s just for the amazing food truck experience {and to see my dear friend Phoenix}. It is true, Portland lacks racial diversity. And let me go back to my train ride story. Just two weeks after leaving Portland, there was a horrific act of violence that happened at the Max train station. Two men were killed in a stabbing on a MAX train when they tried to intervene as another man yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim, including one wearing a hijab.

Nothing but grace, the grace of God kept me from experiencing such violence. My friend was right. The next time I’m in Portland I will be sure to take a taxi and be vigilant of the potential for racially motivated violence. This was a horrific moment for the city of Portland. I believe the city, community members and city officials must take racism seriously and unfortunately, maybe this incident will spark a sense of urgency. May those who lost their lives rest in power.

Yes, Portland has a racism problem. One that cannot be ignored. Urgency now Portland, #UrgencyNow! 

Race talks are necessary! We must talk about these issues if we truly want freedom, safety and justice for all of humanity. My journey continues and I’m looking forward to the next city on the tour. If you’re ready to engage in this critical conversation about race and racism I hope to see you at one of the upcoming SHETalks WETalk workshops for women. Racism is every where, but that won’t stop me from having conversations about race and racism. I hope you let nothing stop you!

airport

Goodbye Portland~ See you on the tour! And until next time… don’t be afraid to go to different cities and always do what you love.

SHE TALKS PORTLAND Promo Graphic

SHEtalks WEtalk Portland Was a SUCCESS!

Participating in the SheTalks WeTalk workshop was a powerful and transformative experience for me, something that reading a thousand books can’t accomplish. Catrice’s leadership style is bold, fierce, organic and compassionate. What stood out for me the most at the workshop were situations when our weapons of Whiteness unintentionally came out, and Catrice helped us see right then and there how those guns are loaded and ready to fire anytime. The urgency of Catrice’s message is very clear: It is high time for White women to take those bullets out of their guns and do their work to become allies to people of color and dismantle racism. I highly recommend participating in Catrice’s workshop – you will be transformed and on your way to reclaim your own humanity!” — Conny Wagner, Portland, Oregon

“SHETalks WETalk Workshop was a powerful and indispensable beginning point for me. I have spent my whole life thinking I was a helpful friend to women of color, not realizing the full gravity of history and the denial of white women being so powerful and damaging. Sitting on the fence with all my weapons loaded, unaware I even had weapons… I am grateful to you for telling the entire, raw truth without pulling any punches. -I am rallying my white women friends and sounding the alarm – it is our responsibility to get out of the way and LISTEN to women of color. Your teaching is vital. All white women must sit down and learn. With gratitude and love.” — Rebecca Delaney, Beaverton OR

“Move over TED, because this work requires a lot more than 15 minutes and a PowerPoint. Challenging, uncomfortable truths are the tools Catrice brings to this workshop. White ladies, if we really want to change the world, first we must change ourselves, change the way we see everything and everyone around us and change our fundamental relationships with people of color, inside and out. This is the real work. And the time is now. Thank you Catrice for holding me responsible for learning and living my own humanity.” — Kymberli Colbourne

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL TOUR SCHEDULE AND TO REGISTER.

 

 

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