A Neighborhood Effort to Interrupt Racism
Respond To Racism is a community-led effort created to disrupt Racism in Lake Oswego, Oregon. We look to educate, communicate, and reiterate discussions on how to respond to racism. Through our monthly meetings, social media presence, and community-based events, Respond To Racism serves to give concerned citizens an opportunity to grow and foster the rhetoric of how to advocate against racism in all its forms.
Our work is pillared on three legs:
Ensuring a culture of awareness through diving into the history of racism and how it continues to operate in the present.
Engaging in healthy conversation through the sharing of our individual stories and learning how to bridge those disparities with neighbors.
Empowering the community through facilitating hands-on advocacy while directly affecting policy and behavior change.
No matter where you fall on this spectrum, we invite you to get involved and be part of making Lake Oswego the town we know it can be.
A Little History
Lake Oswego is primed for its instagrammable green landscapes and waterfront homes that attract those looking to kick up their feet and enjoy the view. However, in the summer of 2017, an off-duty, Black police officer didn’t experience the peace of mind that Lake Oswego offers most of its residents.
Detective Nathan Sheppard told the story on his blog of the racist incident involving a road rage dispute with the white man who called him a N-word, followed by ignorant commentary saying, “You don’t look educated,” poking further, to question how he could live in Lake Oswego because of the color of his skin. KOIN 6, OregonLive, and other local news outlets picked up the story, sparking a debate on the popular neighborhood social media platform, Nextdoor, about the existence of racism in Lake Oswego.
And just like any wildfire, the debates spread throughout the community, garnering interest from residents like Liberty Weaver who sounded the alarm to others in the Nextdoor group to take the conversation offline. Willie Poinsette, a longtime resident in Lake Oswego, was the only person to respond. After meeting with Liberty, sharing their stories, and exchanging their experiences organizing around racism, they agreed on a mutual desire to affect change in the town.
Working to fill the missing links in their chain reaction through outreach, they organized the first Respond to Racism meeting at Lake Oswego United Church of Christ on July 10, 2017.
Respond To Racism now meets monthly, packing the Lake Oswego UCC dining hall and bringing concerned citizens together with members of local government, news media, and the Lake Oswego school district, among others, to tackle overt and systemic racism in the town.
We have received growing attention both inside and outside Lake Oswego, including the Pamplin Media Group, naming Respond to Racism as one of the 10 most important stories to come out of Lake Oswego in 2017.
We hope to make Lake Oswego as picturesque on the inside as it is on the outside by responding to racism through positive change.
Join the Discussion
We know that this journey is a marathon and not a sprint. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, we welcome you to get involved and affirm our impact on making Lake Oswego a better place than what we know it to be.