Black Lives Really Matter

My wife often says that there are blessings in adversity and for me the pandemic provided me with time to sit back and see what was really going on in the treatment of not only blacks, but other races and those with different sexual orientations then the majority. I have, as far back as I can remember, thought of myself as non-racist. Despite having had a little knowledge growing up in Southwest Portland concerning people of color moving from the South to the North to work in the Portland shipyards during WW2, the flood of VanPort destroying the only large integrated neighborhood, and the redlining that the banks and government did occurring shortly thereafter, all of that seemed long ago. In retrospect it explained why there were no blacks in my whole large SW Portland high school until one freshman was bussed in during my senior year.

I was also aware more recently that it seemed like there were way too many police shootings in Portland and across the country and that most of the time they were people of color. I believe that the majority of Portland Police are doing the best job they can under very difficult circumstances, but clearly too many innocent folks were dying, many of whom were unarmed.

My initial reaction to Black Lives Matter, was to think, “of course they do, all lives matter.” But the more I watched the news, the more I read, the more I discovered why so many historically marginalized people felt like society as a whole treated the death or gross mistreatment of minorities like it did not seem to matter, the more I began to understand the reason for the Black Lives Matter movement. That started me on a journey to understand black history in the United States.

To the extent any of you are on a similar journey, or wish to be, I found the following books crammed full of history that I was never taught in high school, college or even law school.

The books on Implicit Bias also taught me a lot about the way our brains are wired and how much effort is needed to keep our core values from being overridden by our implicit (unconscious) bias.

Rudy Lachenmeier’s person list of recommended reading on race and bias from which I learned the most:

Just Mercy: A Story of Mercy and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Caste – The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabella Wilkerson

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabella Wilkerson

The 1619 Project by Nicole Hannah-Jones

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein

BIASED Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennipher L. Eberhardt, Ph.D.

The End of Bias: A Beginning. The Science and Practice of Overcoming Unconscious Bias by Jessica Nordell

The Person You Mean to Be, How Good People Fight Bias by Dolly Chugh