A week ago it seemed completely appropriate for me to write a sincere last Arts Notes post prior to my June 30th retirement. The idea was to talk about all the wonderful experiences I have had over 30 years with MAC/RACC and to thank the thousands of wonderful people I have had the privilege to know.
Then the tragedy struck on the MAX Friday and completely changed my focus. Since November Portland and communities across the country have clearly experienced a distressing increase in verbal assaults focused on people of color going about their peaceful everyday lives. That is wrong and not what our city is about. Yet it happens and swells into violent protests and becomes what a fringe element of our population is very much about.
Last Friday three incredibly brave people stepped up to defend two young women being barraged with hate and threats by an individual known for incendiary racist behavior. Their own outrage and selflessness saved the women. In doing so two perished and one was saved though gravely wounded. I cannot imagine the horror of that scene though it has haunted me since that day.
In trying to think about how to move on all I can think to suggest is proving to hateful people that they will not prevail. I think we need to pull together as concerned, committed, peaceful and loving citizens to raise our voices against hatred, write and sing our music, paint our fears and feelings, act out our responses and hopes for the future, teach our children by example and conversations, gather in places we gather to explore the ways out, support our leaders who are caught in an impossible bind, face this current reality with passion to protect everyone. It has to stop.
And I will get back with my grateful letter to all of you in a few weeks, because I will not let this tragedy get in the way of thanking you and celebrating the wealth of creativity, excellence and positive human interaction, which to me is what my time here has been most about.