Let’s get drinks, but make it reparations.
To be fair, I’m not certain what that means, but apparently Portland, Ore., is now the place to go if you want to take part in a Reparations Happy Hour, where black attendees get $10 cash, mainly from white donors.
According to Raw Story, the event, which happened for the first time Tuesday night, was thought up by longtime social justice organizer Cameron Whitten and organized through his new group Brown Hope.
“It’s exactly what it sounds like,” Whitten said, according to the site. “What I want to do is end the cycle of exploitation. For black, brown, indigenous people, you face so many barriers, whether it’s tokenization or straight-up poverty.”
Whitten says that several white people donated and signed up to be regular, monthly donors. He’s also gotten donations from black people, too.
“I felt so good. That was my best part of the night, just giving out that money,” he added. “I feel like Oprah—like, fuck, I’m Portland’s Oprah right now. And I want to give more than $10.”
As Raw Story notes, Whitten is known throughout Portland politics. He held a 55-day hunger strike at City Hall over the city’s housing crisis and then exposed the racism within a city housing-advocacy group. In one particularly shocking incident, white activists in the group were caught mocking an indigenous person’s request not to sing “This Land Is Your Land” and locked the individual out of the room and sang the song loudly. The white woman at the head of the housing group ended up resigning because of Whitten’s work.
Whitten was recently fired from the city’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement, an act that he says is a result of racism and for which he is seeking to file a lawsuit, according to Raw Story.
“In Portland in general, when they say ‘people of color,’ they mean light-skin, white-passing Asian and Latino,” he said. “Very often we don’t see black people in charge of things. And we see a lot of anti-blackness.”
“This is a hostile environment,” he added, noting that was why many black friends of his have left the city. “They don’t die physically, but they leave Portland because they’re not getting what they need to nourish their spirit here.”
It is through events like the happy hour that Whitten hopes black and brown people can start to feel more comfortable in the city.