FLUX UNIVERSITY OF OREGON SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM AND COMMUNICATION
SPRING 2016 路 ISSUE 23
TOGETHER and APART How race and identity (still) unite and divide us
About the Cover The cover is a representation of the racial makeup of the University of Oregon student body. The figures do not include international students, who comprise 13.6 percent of the student body. Source: UO Office of the Registrar
WHITE 60.5 % MULTI-RACIAL 5.8 %
ASIAN 5.5 %
HISPANIC 9.4 %
NATIVE AMERICAN 0.06 %
NATIVE HAWAIIAN/ PACIFIC ISLANDER 0.04 %
Cover design by Gina Mills & Yurika Asai
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Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s to the next
100 Years One hundred years ago, the University of Oregon founded the School of Journalism with newspaper reporter Eric W. Allen at the helm. Today the school is comprehensive, supporting undergraduate programs in journalism, media studies, advertising, and public relations, four masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s programs, a doctoral program, and interdisciplinary programs including Cinema Studies, with 60 faculty members, and more than 2,300 students.
We are pleased to announce that the new Edwin L. Artzt dean is Juan Carlos Molleda, who will lead the School of Journalism and Communication into the next 100 years of excellence in ethics, innovation, and action.
journalism.uoregon.edu EO/AA/ADA institution committed to cultural diversity.
6 Editor's Letter The Source 8 Race Through Time 10 Stats, facts and trivia.
A look at where we've been to know where we're going.
As the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s demographics shift and blend, how do multi-racial individuals reconcile their identities?
After 48 years, black students on campus are still fighting for equality.
26 Region and Religion
The lives of five diverse individuals illustrating the broad cultures we tend to narrow.
A small town in rural Oregon wonders if its Native mascot is still a home run.
A glimpse into what itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s like to find home away from home.
52 On Common Ground 62 What are You?
Is our skin color who we are?
After the horrors of war, a veteran has paired with the president of the Arab Student Union to build bridges on campus.
How do we reconcile that Klan ideals still exist?
x How are we talking about race?
OWN A PART OF HISTORY This limited edition commemorative book chronicles the history of the School of Journalism and Communication and features the centennial class of 2016.
DUCK STORE PRE-ORDERS BEGIN IN JUNE Limited quantities only available in-store and on the Duck Store website: uoduckstore.com
$5.00 OFF Promo Code: SOJC100
100 Years of the School of Journalism and Communication Commemorative Book
Use promo code SOJC100 for $5 off. Books will be shipped in October. EO/AA/ADA institution committed to cultural diversity.
F L U X
Editor-in-Chief Caitlyn May Writers Kadin Burnett Andrew Tsubasa Field Francesca Fontana Jen Jackson La’akea Kaufman Samantha Matsumoto Forrest Welk
Savannah Blake Whitney Bradshaw August Frank Jessica Frink
Art Director Yurika Asai Production Manager Meghan McEldowney
Assistant Production Manager Gina Mills Designers Lily Chamberlain Shayna Engler Alaina Hornibrook Reann Nathan Theresa Nguyen Allie Witham
Engagement Strategist Liz Dickey Digital Strategist Carolyn Cruze
Thanks to Our
Editorial Advisor Todd Milbourn Design Advisor Steven Asbury Photo Advisor Sung Park
Flux is produced annually by the students of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication. Special thanks to the SOJC and Flux founders Professors Tom Wheeler and Bill Ryan. © 2016
On January 7, 2016 we gathered in a room for a conversation. Professors, students, legislators and community members were invited to talk to us about race and identity. We invited them to have a conversation, because we’d decided that none of these stories belonged to Flux. They belonged to the community. The same community that had led us here, to this idea of exploring how we all identify, react, speak and live in relation to what we look like and where we come from. And like any charged conversation, there were differences of opinion, indignation, consensus and a bit of grandstanding. But it was a start. When we were done, we sat in a classroom and looked at one another. It was around this time we agreed this had been the most diverse room any of us had ever been in at the University of Oregon. There were 14 of us and we ran the spectrum. AfricanAmerican, Asian, Caucasian, Native American, a combination of some and the unknown. We sat and digested what we had heard from the community and then we pitched. Story after story went up on the board and soon another conversation emerged. How would we talk about race? What was offensive and what was the truth? Could a white staff member say the same words as a black staff member and how would we assign stories? For 100 years, the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon has asked its students to be more. More accurate. More compassionate. More interested and engaged. Tolerant and curious. To be more than journalists; to be storytellers. And so, we decided to frame our questions and stories in a way that held true to those founding principles. Over the course of the last six months, we’ve extended ourselves out into the community asking any and all who had boots on the ground 8 | FLUX | ISSUE 23
to guide us. We met with folks who had taken a bus down to Ferguson and others who had covered a racially charged university in a time when busses rolled through Selma. They told us to be truthful. To be receptive. They asked us to rectify. To tell, not steal stories. They reminded us that watching a shooting unfold on a Twitter feed is the same as watching someone die in the street. We are human. That contrary to popular belief, a journalist has a heart and we should let ours breathe when we write of race and identity. And so we did. You’ll find stories in the following pages that span the racial experience, much like our newsroom, told by those who live them. As you read through, you may be tempted to believe that we sought out the exceptions. That racism fell in the moment Barack Obama raised his right hand and the stories contained in this magazine are exaggerations of ambitious
journalism students eager to add to a trending topic. #Racism2016. But our intention is not rooted in likes and shares. From the second meeting of Flux, in between our discussions of racial vocabulary and story pitches, we made the deliberate decision to find, source, craft and edit the stories in a spirit of community engagement, accuracy and purpose. It was about listening to the world around us and reflecting it back as authentically as possible. Some of those reflections are harsh. In this edition, you’ll find a list of demands issued by the Black Student Taskforce in 2015 that sorrowfully mirrors a list submitted in 1968. The story examines the reasons and rhetoric surrounding that issue and why, after almost 50 years, black students at the University of Oregon are still marching. You’ll read what it’s like to be Muslim and American, both at the same time, and what happens when nuclear tests drive an island population to find a home in Salem, Oregon. What it feels like to be mixed-race in a country that finds its divide in black and white as much as it does in red and blue and how veterans are working with Arab groups to move beyond the war.
There are stories of injustice and racism. Displacement and institutional failures. Hope and healing. On June 3, 2016, we’ll have another conversation. The stories will be out there in the community they sprang from and the staff that turned uncomfortable conversations into inspiring stories through the perseverance of those out to change the world, will lead that discussion. It’s our hope that those who attend will go out and hold discussions of their own. The tools we’ve collected in our quest to discover honest efforts at communication are also at your disposal. So have a difference of opinion. Be indignant. Find a consensus. Grandstand a bit, but have the conversation. Start.
Caitlyn May, Editor-In-Chief
SPRING 2016 | FLUX | 9
BY THE NUMBERS
The University of Oregon is working to improve diversity on its campus. See where it stands now, by the numbers. Southern Oregon University/ Northwest Christian University Willamette University Lewis and Clark College
18% 19% 20%
Western Oregon University/ Concordia University University of Oregon/ Oregon State University
DOMESTIC MINORITIES WITHIN OREGON COLLEGES
Reed College/ Portland State University George Fox University Linfield College
28% 29% 31%
The percentage of domestic minorities (excluding the unknown and international categories) as recorded by each school. 35%
University of Portland
Warner Pacific College
STUDENT DEMOGRAPHICS The current demographics at the University of Oregon as recorded by the UO.
PERCENT CHANGES IN STUDENT DEMOGRAPHICS OVER THE YEARS
The percentage changes in minority populations at the University of Oregon as recorded by the UO.
American Indian Hawaiian / Pacific islander Black / African American Race / Ethnicity Unknown 2 or More Races Asian Hispanic / Latino International White
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HAWAIIAN / PACIFIC ISLANDER
BLACK / AFRICAN AMERICAN
RACE / ETHNICITY UNKNOWN
2 OR MORE RACES
HISPANIC / LATINO
WHAT DO YOU KNOW?
START HERE Who was the University of Oregon’s first Black employee and where did he work?
Choose your adventure! Pick from two options at every gray box to test your knowledge of UO's history.
Riley Griffin, driver of university streetcar service.
UO African-American football players weren’t allowed to dorm on campus in 1926, due to their race. Where did they stay instead?
Wiley Griffon, a janitor at Friendly Hall
Which group donated funds to build Gerlinger Hall?
Cafe Roma Lane County Clerk’s Building
What modern day hiking trail used to host KKK cross burnings?
The Kiwanis Club The Ku Klux Klan
Where was the site of “Tent City” — a tent community of AfricanAmericans who were denied housing in Eugene?
Skinner's Butte Spencer's Butte
What year was the Black Student Union formed on campus? 1935
Alton Baker Park
You deserve an A+ and an award! Looks like you really know your history.
Congrats! You did pretty well and scored a solid B. Hopefully you learned some things along the way.
Hmm, seems like you have some brushing up to do. Read the rest of this FLUX issue to learn more.
ANSWERS: ALL THE CORRECT ANSWERS ARE LEADING TO THE LEFT. SPRING 2016 | FLUX | 11
12 | FLUX | ISSUE 23
KKK FLOURISHES IN OREGON, WINNING LEGISLATIVE SEATS AND SUPPORT.
The first African American student, Mabel Byrd, attends the UO.
Plessy v. Ferguson decision by Supreme Court rules segregation legal.
14TH AMENDMENT MAKES AFRICANAMERICANS CITIZENS OF THE U.S.
Oregon joins the union as the only state with an exclusion law on the books.
Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated. April: Black Student Union submits a list of demands to UO President Flemming.
University of Oregon Black Student Union created.
BARACK OBAMA SWORN IN AS THE FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
OSAA lists 16 Oregon high schools with Native American mascots.
Key Dates from this issue of Flux
Race the SOURCE
PRESIDENT KENNEDY SIGNS THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT, PROHIBITING DISCRIMINATION AND ABOLISHING JIM CROW LAWS.
Brown v. Board of Education outlaws segregation in public schools.
Oregon repeals law prohibiting interracial marriage.
Oregon repeals exclusion laws.
Congress grants Native Americans citizenship
First Five Year Diversity plan created at the UO.
Oregon votes to remove racist language from its constitution.
Then-UO President Dave Frohnmayer apologizes for referring to Asian students as "Orientals."
TWO POLICE OFFICERS LEAVE DEAD OPOSSUMS AT AFRICAN-AMERICAN OWNED RESTAURANTS IN PORTLAND, OREGON STARTING DEBATES BETWEEN POLICE, CITY GOVERNMENT AND THE PUBLIC. CITIZENS REVIEW COMMITTEE CREATED.
UO PRESIDENT MICHAEL SCHILL ANNOUNCES RESULTS FROM WORKING GROUPS TASKED WITH IMPROVING MINORITY LIFE AT THE UNIVERSITY.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump calls for “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States.
18-year-old Michael Brown fatally shot by officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO sparking protests and a Justice Department investigation.
George Zimmerman acquitted in the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. His death sparked the creation of Black Lives Matter.
Oregon League of Minority Voters offer scholarships to white students to take classes in race relations and encourage them to pursue studies in race relations.
SPRING 2016 | FLUX | 13
e e mix d
As the demographics of the country begin to blend, feelings about race and what it means in terms of identity aren’t as easily reconciled. Story by Francesca Fontana
Photos by Whitney Bradshaw
mber Cecil doesn’t look like her mother. She doesn’t look like her father. She doesn’t look like the faces around her, marching beside her on 13th Ave., chanting ‘Black Lives Matter’ under the overcast November sky. She’s half-black, but as she marches up to Johnson Hall with her peers, her pale skin stands out against the visibly black activists around her. As a black woman, Cecil is standing in solidarity with her brothers and sisters on campus. But as a white-passing African-American, she said she sometimes worries she’s just “a white chick” invading a space that isn’t hers. “I think it’s important that everyone speaks up about these issues, but it is the Black Lives Matter movement,” Cecil said. “It’s about black lives, and I’m never going to be in danger of being killed over my race.” In the melting pot that is America, categorizing people by race has never been an accurate measure of true identity. But as demographics change—from immigration, to a jump in interracial marriage, to a 10 fold increase in mixed-raced births, America is being pushed toward a more multi-ethnic future. And all the complications that come with it.
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As boundaries blur and it becomes harder to identify with all of the culture, tradition, and struggles of one particular racial heritage, multi-ethnic people like Cecil are navigating uncharted, complex and sometimes confusing terrain. For Kirby Brown, a Native American and Ethnic Studies professor, his identity as a Cherokee is shrouded in layers of complexity as a political, familial, historical and racial identity—not necessarily a visible one. Brown is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation in northeast Oklahoma through his grandfather, who was born there in 1906, and a dual citizen of the nation and the United States. “For me to say that I’m Cherokee is a political act,” Brown says. “It aligns me and acknowledges not just that I’m claiming the Cherokee Nation but that the Cherokee Nation, as a sovereign nation that defines its own citizenship, claims me as a citizen.” His citizenship also ties him to his family and the historical events connected to his genealogical lineage, he said. However, other aspects of his Cherokee identity could be considered inauthentic to other Native Americans. Brown was raised in west Texas rather than in the nation. He was not raised in a Cherokee Baptist church or a stomp community, and he doesn’t speak Cherokee fluently.
Amber Cecil SPRING 2016 | FLUX | 15
Kirby Brown 16 | FLUX | ISSUE 23
On top of all of that, Brown looks like a white man. “Racially, obviously I move through this world mostly as a white man, passing as white,” he says of his light skin. “That has some long historical roots in southeastern peoples intermarrying back into the 18th century.” Two of Brown’s sisters are dark-skinned, but not visibly Native American. “They would often get mistaken more as kids from Mexico, since we grew up in Texas,” Brown says. “My [other] sister who was redheaded and white, freckle-faced, has two daughters who are super dark with dark hair and brown eyes, who get mistaken as Lebanese, north African or Middle Eastern all the time.” When Brown goes back home and friends introduce him to the local folks, they jokingly introduce him as a white Cherokee. “I’m, in some ways, an outsider,” Brown says. “They acknowledge that I’m a Cherokee citizen but I’m not culturally Cherokee or racially Indian.” When Brown talks about his Cherokee identity to his classes, he acknowledges that it’s a political identity rather than racial - and sometimes students come to him in his office hours and share their struggles with race as well. “My family members who are darker and grew up in Oklahoma next to relatively racist white communities have moved through this world in a fundamentally different way than I ever will,” Brown said. “I’ve been able to move through that world without being marked as an Indian, and that’s an important distinction for me as a scholar to make, as a Cherokee to make, as a Cherokee family member to make to other members of my family who do get positioned that way, and who do have to move through the world as a racial body.”
ike Kirby, UO student Adrion Trujillo moves through the world mostly as white. With a Cuban father and a white mother, Trujillo inherited his mother’s fair skin while his siblings were more racially ambiguous. Growing up in Springfield, Ore., Trujillo recalled facing an abundance of anti-Latino rhetoric. In middle school and high school he would identify as white or Hispanic, but he tried to avoid the subject. He remembers that in an attempt to escape the amount of antiLatino hatred in Springfield, people he knew to be Mexican or Guatemalan or Puerto Rican would identify as Arabic or other races in public. In school, Trujillo said he was routinely mistaken for being Mexican, and students would jokingly call him “spic” and “wetback.” Trujillo said he struggled with his racial identity as his appearance contrasted with his father’s.
“I never was afraid or ashamed of my dad, of being seen with my dad but it always surprised people,” Trujillo said. When he was younger, his father took him to a movie theater that offered half-priced tickets to families on Father’s Day. When Trujillo arrived with his dad, people doubted they were related and wanted to see IDs. “That’s why it becomes really hard to identify as one thing, because in the case of trying to relate to my family, it might hurt me in some ways,” Trujillo said. “And so many people will see me as white and that will benefit me as well.” At 18, Trujillo worked at Walmart in Springfield. One day he said he helped a customer who was struggling to speak English by using his limited Spanish. Later Trujillo told his boss that he really needed to learn more Spanish. “No, you don’t,” his boss replied. “She should learn more English. If she wants to live in this damn country, she should learn more English.” As his boss ranted that Mexicans were “always expecting handouts, expecting us to do stuff for them,” Trujillo said he was caught between a rock and a hard place. “I’m just standing there, knowing that he’s talking about me (as a Latino), but also knowing that he doesn’t know he’s talking about me,” Trujillo recalled. If at any point he spoke up about his race it might shut his boss up but might lead to discrimination another time, while staying silent just allows it to continue. Trujillo said he remained silent, and his white identity remained intact. Indirect discrimination like this may not be intended to hurt white-passing people of color, but Trujillo said it still hurts because they still align themselves with those identities. “People often talk about white-passing people having the benefit to assimilate, and I think that’s true,” Trujillo said. “But I think to truly assimilate you have to reject so much of your culture, so much of your family, so much of these things that are really integral to you as a person. I would argue even if we can assimilate we are still not entirely white based on the idea that we’re forced to [assimilate] while simple white people are not.” There are other situations, Trujillo said, where something about him calls his “white integrity” into question, like when people recognize his last name as Latino and ask “what he is.” “The question feels less like I genuinely want to know and it’s more like, ‘How can I label you?’” Trujillo said. “Like, ‘how can I think about you? What preconceived notions can I ascribe to your being?’” When he came to the University of Oregon, Trujillo said he struggled, much like Cecil did, to find a space in which he could comfortably express his complicated racial identity. He felt out of place in UO’s Latino student union, MECHA. “There were white-passing people in MECHA who could speak Spanish fluently that I was very envious of because I felt like less people were doubting their identity,” Trujillo said. “That’s probably not true, but that’s the way it felt.” SPRING 2016 | FLUX | 17
When he was a sophomore, Trujillo said a friend introduced him to the Multi-Ethnic Student Alliance, a place where Trujillo finally felt at home. “There’s mixed people from all walks of life and from all different categories, but I felt more connected [to them] because we all feel the same amount of fraying in our identities,” Trujillo said. “There is this sort of disbelief of people’s identities, people constantly question our identities and I think like to the point where we end up questioning our own identities and really what those mean and I think a lot of that comes from outside influence,” Trujillo continued. “If our very existence didn’t question people’s concept of race then we wouldn’t get these questions and we wouldn’t have these questions ourselves.” MESA gave Trujillo a place to address those questions, and is a place he knows he can return to. For now, Trujillo said he is coming closer to a place of peace with his multiethnic identity and comfort in claiming his race as his own. “I feel like sometimes it does feel like this disingenuous attempt to reconnect with my culture and claim this identity or feel more authentic,” Trujillo said. “Am I going to be more authentic by being able to speak Spanish? Am I going to be authentic by having darker skin or by having all these things? But I think there will always be people who don’t see me as Latino and I can’t really help those things.” “It’s for me to claim being Cuban,” Trujillo said. “It’s for me to claim being Latino.”
ecil has struggled with her racial identity and appearance since she can remember. She is multiracial, just like 6.9 percent of the population. Just like Kirby. And Trujillo. Her father was African-American and darkskinned, her mother Scandinavian and fair. Like her mother, her adoptive parents are both white. “When I was a kid and I was told that I was half-black, I remember freaking out,” Cecil said. “I didn’t know how to feel about it, like this was all kind of an elaborate ruse to me.” Cecil has spent most of her life struggling to find the place she belongs in black and white communities thanks to her passing skin tone. “I guess my mom’s genes were really freaking strong or something, cause my dad was very dark,” she said. The one feature that gives her away is her curly hair, now dyed purple and cropped shoulder-length. As a child Cecil’s dirty blonde hair was “explosive,” reaching down to her hips. “You couldn’t miss it,” she said, laughing. Aside from her hair, Cecil passes as white in everyday life, leading her to identify with her white side growing up. But when filling out forms that asked her to identify her race, Cecil never knew what to do. “Sometimes I’d have to choose [black or white],” Cecil 18 FLUX || ISSUE ISSUE23 23 18 || FLUX
said. “Sometimes they’d let me choose both, but if I had to choose, I’d choose white.” In middle school and high school, Cecil tried to find black students with whom she could connect and through whom she could learn about black culture. As a dancer, Cecil found many of her black friends in her hip hop classes. Cecil’s friend Lillian was also mixed and adopted by two white parents, and the two girls had a lot to talk about about race and identity. “We were both very white-passing,” Cecil said. “However, [Lillian] was dark and has very ‘black’ hair. And so it was hard because I still didn’t fully feel in touch with that conversation because she is dark and I am white.” Cecil said she had to constantly prove that she was halfblack to friends and acquaintances who questioned her race. “You get people who believe you and don’t believe you,” Cecil said. For instance, when she was younger Cecil said she accompanied her aunt to a party where they were the only two white people in the room. “People would come up to me and I would go, ‘Oh, I’m half black,’” Cecil said. “I was publicly announcing it at that point because I was so desperate to not be the only white person in the room, next to my aunt.” No one believed her. Some people go so far as to ask for pictures of her and her biological dad. “It’s not just [asking if I’m a cute kid],” Cecil said. “It’s like, ‘Oh, I want to see if your dad’s really black. Can you prove that to me with photographic evidence right now?’ And I’m like ‘No!’” Cecil said that in high school she was counted as a black student by her school, but she felt deeply uncomfortable when she was invited to meetings aimed for black teens applying to college. “I’m white-passing and I grew up in a upper middle class family, I wasn’t having a hard time getting into college because of my race,” Cecil said. “I was sitting there as an upper middle class white woman, not really understanding why I was there.” Cecil tried going to meetings at the Black Student Union at her high school, but only briefly. “Every time I went I was just so terribly uncomfortable because I’m not black, and I don’t know why I’m sitting in a room full of black people and I’m white, and I’m invading their space, I’m invading their time.” As she marched at the University of Oregon, chanting that black lives matter, she felt the same discomfort, knowing that her life was not the one that in danger. “Part of me is very passionate - I am a black woman, I am a person of color, and this is affecting me and this hurts me directly,” Cecil said. “And the other part of me says I have no business being here.” “There’s this deep seated part of me that goes, ‘you shouldn’t, you’re really white.’”
Adrion Trujillo SPRING 2016 | FLUX | 19
Two lists, nearly identical demands. The Black Student Task Force is working to finish the job the Black Student Union started in 1968—bringing equal representation for African-Americans to the University of Oregon.
C Story by Samantha Matsumoto
ARLA GARY LEARNED QUICKLY THAT SHE COULD NEVER
miss class at the University of Oregon. The one time she tried was during her freshman year in 1968. She had come down with the flu and doubted she’d be missed in a lecture hall of 300 students. She was wrong. Upon her return, the professor singled her out to welcome her back. Gary had been singled out because she stood out. She was the only black student in the entire lecture hall. In fact, she was one of the few black people at the university. Although the university did not track how many black students were on campus in 1968, Gary estimates that in a student body of 15,000, there were just 100. “The challenge for us was there was no anonymity,” Gary said. “You can’t blend in. It’s harder to blend in. So you are always on.” Nearly 50 years later, former undergraduate and current law student Kena Gomalo still stands out. He too, is often the only black student in a given class. Despite many outreach efforts and the establishment of a diversity center with a multi-million dollar budget, the percentages of black students and faculty at the UO haven’t changed much since 1968. Currently, black students make up less than two percent of the UO’s student body. Black faculty is even less—constituting just 1.6 percent of the university’s tenured faculty. The numbers have been all but stagnant, affecting black representation, education and overall experience at the University of Oregon for almost five decades. It’s an issue current university president Michael Schill is well aware of and one he says is a high priority. The administration has established several working groups to address specific issues facing black students on campus. In May, Schill announced six recommendations from the working groups, including an African American opportunities program to recruit more black students, an African American student advisory board and the recognition of historically black Greek organizations. More recommendations will be announced in the future, Schill said. “My goal is to improve diversity and inclusion on the campus and I am going to be working quite hard to do that,” Schill said. Yet, for students like Gomalo, being black at the UO in 2016 still means facing challenges and more changes can’t come soon enough. “We’re uncomfortable everywhere we go. We go into class and we are uncomfortable because nine times out of 10, we are the only black students in the class,” Gomalo said. “We’re uncomfortable because we can be in a class with 500 students and we will be the one that will be remembered despite barely saying a single word.” In November, black students didn’t need a single word. They had three. “Black Lives Matter” rang out over and over as hundreds
20 | FLUX | ISSUE 23
Carla Gary stands with Kena Gomalo on 13th Avenue at the University of Oregon. Gary was a student at the UO in 1968. She recalled a 300-student class in which she was the only AfricanAmerican. Gomalo, a law student, said that 50 years later he is frequently the only AfricanAmerican in his classes. Photo by August| Frank SPRING 2016 | FLUX 21
Students outside the UO Law School brandish signs demanding fair hiring, affirmative action and justice in 1987. Courtesy: UO Archives of students gathered at Johnson Hall. They demanded better representation from the administration on behalf of marginalized groups on campus. Students chanted and held signs proclaiming, “None of my professors look like me.” On the building’s steps, they spoke to the crowd about their experiences with racism. After the rally, Gomalo gathered with other black student leaders in the Prince Lucien Campbell lecture hall—the same hall Gary had been noticed in after her bout with the flu 48 years prior. They planned their next steps, which included a meeting with Schill that night. Then they met with a group of 100 other black students to talk. The students ranged from undergraduate to law students, and represented every black student group on campus. They discussed the problems they faced on campus. On a white board, one of the students began to make a list. 22 | FLUX | ISSUE 23
Two hours later, the group had boiled down their experiences to some key obstacles: There were too few black students and faculty. Every day, many had class in Deady Hall, a building named after UO founder and outspoken slavery advocate Matthew Deady. Financial aid and scholarships for black students was lacking. Gomalo and nine other students—a group that became the Black Student Task Force—took the list from that night. From it, they laid out an action plan in the form of 12 demands. Four days after the rally, the list was sent to Schill.
Discovering a Pattern Shortly after their list of demands was released, Gomalo and his colleagues received a phone call. It was a university alumnus from 1968. Forty-eight years ago, he, too, had written a list. He and other students from
the Black Student Union had sent their own demands to then-President Arthur Flemming. And it was nearly identical. “We dug it up and were like, ‘Wow, this is pretty much the same thing,’” Gomalo said. “The experience of going to the UO... was eerily similar or dare I say the same because the list of demands they created is essentially the same as ours.” The lists do vary in their specific demands. The 1968 list highlights the lack of black students in the dorms and requests a soul food night. It addresses the lack of black student athletes and coaches. It asks for an African American studies program and that black arts and culture be recognized on campus. The 2016 list, on the other hand, asks for Ethnic Studies 101 to become a required course. It specifically asks Deady Hall be renamed. It asks that UO recognize historically black fraternities and sororities.
Several hundred students, faculty and concerned citizens march from the Ford Alumni Center to Johnson Hall on the University of Oregon campus to show solidarity with the protesters at the University of Missouri. Photo by Savannah Blake
“We’re uncomfortable everywhere we go. We go into class and we are uncomfortable because nine times out of 10, we are the only black students in the class.” - Kena Gomalo However, many of the demands in both lists focus on the same core issues facing black students. The demand for more diversity among faculty. An increase in representation for black students. More financial aid and recruitment programs. More emphasis on African American academia. It was all there. The language of the document had changed over the decades, but not the intent. That’s not to say some things haven’t changed since 1968. The UO now has an Ethnic Studies program. Since 2011, over $1 million has been spent on hiring minority faculty through the Underrepresented Minority Fund. Through the Division of Equity and Inclusion, the UO provides cultural competency training to faculty and staff, as well as numerous programs to support and retain students and faculty of color. Since the 1960s, recruitment programs have increased the representation of minority
and low income students. In fall 2014, the UO’s freshman class was 27 percent minority students – the highest in university history. However, these changes have not significantly improved the lives of black students on campus, according to the task force. Though the overall student body has become more diverse, the percentage of black students specifically has barely grown. In 1974, the earliest year records could be found, black students made up 1.4 percent of the student body. More than 40 years later, that number has grown less than one percentage point. Despite university efforts to recruit faculty of color, the UO is one of the lowest ranked schools in the Association of American Universities for faculty diversity. It’s important for the university to recognize that growth in diversity for other minority groups on campus has not reflected growth for black students, Gomalo said. The
way to fix that, he said, is to focus on issues specific to the black community. “Being a black person at the UO is a unique experience and an experience that can’t be compared to any other group,” Gomalo said. “What I mean by that is a lot of folks think we are a post-racial American or UO society and that isn’t the case for black students here.”
The Original List “Post-racial” wasn’t a part of the conversations that began around campus in 1968 as riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. erupted across the country. Mike Fancher was the editor of university’s Oregon Daily Emerald newspaper that spring. Fancher said after King was assassinated in April, the discussions on campus intensified. Ten days after King’s death, the Black Student Union drafted a list SPRING 2016 | FLUX | 23
Dr. Edwin Coleman arrived on the University of Oregon campus in 1966 as a graduate teaching assistant. He was later hired as an English professor to teach black literature courses. Photo by August Frank
“The experience of going to the UO... was eerily similar, or dare I say the same, because the list of demands they created is essentially the same as ours.” - Kena Gomalo 24 | FLUX | ISSUE 23
of grievances and sent them to Flemming. A formal list of demands followed a few days later. Flemming took quick action. Within four days, he established a committee on racism with subcommittees to create recommendations for each of the issues outlined in the demands. Fancher said that the unrest in the nation at the time influenced Flemming’s quick decisions. “It was a time for action… (President Flemming) wanted tangible change to happen,” Fancher said. “There was a sense that this could get really bad unless there was a sense of urgency about it.” Gary recalls that urgency as well. “The demands were about faculty members who were clearly uncomfortable engaging with students with whom they had no prior experience,” Gary said. “Administration was not knowledgeable or prepared to deal with the kind of issues students were reporting in class and in the residence halls.” It was a driving force behind the 1968 demands, and something Gary experienced when she was a freshman the following fall. She was part of one of the largest influxes of black students in UO history thanks to a federally funded program called Project 75. Created in response to the 1968 demands, it provided scholarships for 75 black students to attend the university. As a result, Gary said many of her professors acted as though she and the other black students did not belong. Because they were a part of Project 75, there was a perception that they were admitted to increase diversity rather than as a result of their academic qualifications. Gary became accustomed to her professors asking her whether she was in the right class. On the first day of her advanced English class, the professor read her name during roll and stopped. “Are you aware this is an advanced class?” he asked her. Gary replied that she did. At the end of the class, the professor took her aside. “You are the smartest black person I have ever met,” he said. “Not to diminish my intelligence, because I really am exceedingly bright,” Gary responded, “but that is just an indication of how few African Americans (the professor had) ever met.” Gary said experiences like these added enormous pressure for black students already dealing with the everyday stresses of student life. And it put them at a disadvantage. “I knew that every time I opened my mouth in class, I was speaking for African
-Americans,” Gary said. “It’s being on, having to stand and deliver, because you may make or break the opportunity for another African American student to get a chance.” Nearly 50 years later, Gomalo said that pressure remains. During his freshman year, he recalled a professor telling him to drop a class because he might not understand the material. “Being one of the very few African American students going to class was uncomfortable because the teachers were telling you that you just need to drop out of the course because you’re not going to get it,” Gomalo said. “All these experiences are essentially the same (as in 1968).” The pressure isn’t just limited to black students. There are only 12 black faculty members and 62 staff members employed at the UO, according to the most recent data from the University’s Office of Institutional Research.
More Than Students Those numbers were even lower in 1966 when Dr. Edwin Coleman arrived on campus as a graduate teaching assistant.
Coleman moved to Eugene from Chico State College in California in order to get his Ph.D. in theater. When he graduated in 1972, he was hired as an English professor to start black literature courses in the department. Every day, Coleman dressed in a suit and tie – he had to in order to be seen as qualified as white professors, he said. His work in the English department led to the creation of the Ethnic Studies department, of which he became co-chair of in 1981. Coleman saw many black professors come and go, but he says the lack of black faculty is not for lack of effort on the UO’s part. Despite many recruitment efforts, the UO often loses black faculty to other institutions who are able to pay more and offer more academic opportunity, he said. “It’s not a lack of the university attempting to (recruit and retain faculty),” Coleman said. As one of the few black professors on campus, Coleman served as a liaison between the school and students for African American issues. One spring day in the early 1970s, the Eugene Black Panther party marched down 15th Avenue to protest racial disparities. That day, UO President Robert Clark spoke with Coleman. Clark knew Coleman had been
“I knew that every time I opened my mouth in class, I was speaking for AfricanAmericans.” - Carla Gary
Students at the University of Oregon take part in the protest in solidarity with the University of Missouri. Photo by Savannah Blake SPRING 2016 | FLUX | 25
active in mentoring minority students on campus. One of the students in the Black Panther protest was in Coleman’s class, and Clark wanted Coleman to speak with him. Gary and her classmates adored Coleman, she recalls. He was one of the only black professors they had. “They were overwhelmed by all of us. Because everyone wanted their time. I mean, they had a sense of who we were,” Gary said. Even with mentors like Coleman, Gary said she struggled with racism as a student. She said she and her friends never went into Springfield at night because unwritten sundown laws set a curfew for African Americans. One evening, Gary and a group of her friends went to see a John Wayne movie at the Springfield movie theater. When they got out of the theater she recalls a group of white men confronting them. As they approached, though, they recognized Gary’s friend: He was a nationally ranked football player. The men’s reactions changed immediately, Gary recalls. “Here is, for me, the absolute perfect snapshot of the dichotomy of race when it comes to celebrity,” she
Dayja Curry, a leader of the Black Women of Achievement marches with hundreds of students, faculty and concerned community members during a solidarity protest with University of Missouri on the University of Oregon campus. Photo by Savannah Blake
In a wide-ranging interview conducted in March, President Schill answered questions about race relations on campus in the weeks before announcing initiatives to improve them.
Q: Would you consider the University of Oregon to be racially diverse?
A: Certainly not as diverse as we would like it to be. I think that, particularly in regard to underrepresented minorities, I think that we do better in terms of our representation of Latinos in part because the state has a growing Latino population. Our African-American diversity is really not good and it’s not what I’d like it to be.
Q: During the “Lessons from Mizzou” talk you held in November, you heard
from many in the campus community about the lack of diversity on campus. You were quoted as saying, “Talk is important, deliberating is important, 26 | FLUX | ISSUE 23
but at the end of the day, we need progress.” What tangible progress can you note since November regarding the university’s diversity and race relations?
A: If we go back to the conversation the way it began, our Black Student Task Force gave us, what they called demands. Almost all of the demands were asking us to do things by fall of 2016 and we’re right on schedule for a lot of those. You know, my sense is we’ll announce certain things in the next month but there’s other things that need more work. For example, one of the things that they requested was an Ethnic Studies 101 course for everybody. I think everybody understand that’s impossible. We only have six faculty members, or seven faculty members and I’m sure the person teaching it doesn’t want to teach 21,000 students. Everything else, we should be in pretty good shape to begin making decisions… Some of the things, even if we decide to do them, they’ll require us to find the funding and to fundraise.
Q: Our next question relates to that. Late last year, the Black Student Taskforce submitted to your office a list of demands and it strongly resembled a list that the Black Student Union gave to the president’s office in 1968. So, what steps are being taken to in-sure that we won’t be having the same conversation with another similar list of demands 50 years from now?
said. “It was just incredible… Suddenly (the men were saying,) ‘We just thought’ — and this was my favorite line — ‘we just thought you were regular niggers.’” Though African Americans can now go to Springfield after dark Gary says some things -- like many issues laid out in both lists of demands -- have not changed. She would know. Thirty years after Gary first set foot on campus as a freshman, she returned to the UO to work for the Office of Multicultural Affairs. She later became an assistant vice president for Institutional Equity and Diversity, and held the position until 2013, when the office was restructured and her position was eliminated. Though she has seen change occur since she was a student, Gary said it’s been painfully slow. The demands led to the creation of Project 75, and the Committee on Ethnic Studies, a precursor to the department. But despite the changes in the late ‘60s, Gary said the conversation eventually died out. Students graduated. Flemming retired. The tenure of the following acting president, Charles Johnson, was cut short by a car crash. By the time Clark took the President’s Office, the conversation had already lost momentum, Gary said. “The conversation continues until no one is listening any more. And nothing is changing, not really. I mean, in bits and pieces, but the institutional racism is never addressed because it is not perceived as institutionalized,” Gary said. “There were some things done, but the deeper issues were never, have never been addressed.”
A: Well, you know, I can’t really say anything about the 1968 demands because I’ve never seen them. What I can say is that my goal is to actually improve diversity and inclusion on campus and I’m going to be working quite hard to do that. I can’t write a binding contract to sort of say what I’m going to do in the future but if the proposals that come forth from the working groups are feasible and in the best interest of the university and we have the resources to do them, I’m going to implement them. I think this is a high priority on our campus. To me, one of the chief advantages of coming to a residential university is that you get to meet people who are different from you, you get to learn from people who are different from you and that goes for underrepresented minorities being mixed in with Anglos and Anglos learning from under represented minorities. That’s how we make progress in our country or don’t make progress in our country because we’re segregated. We’re not giving our students a full, enriched education if we don’t put together a group of people here that is more representative of the society around us.
Like Flemming before him, Schill has tasked his newly formed working groups with drafting resolutions to address each demand in the 2015 list. The first six recommendations addressed many of the demands. In May, Schill announced a plan to address another demand: the renaming of Deady Hall. He established a set of criteria to rename the building and tasked a group of historians with evaluating it using that criteria. Schill will make a recommendation based on the historian’s evaluation and community input, he said. Schill and Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Yvette Alex-Assensoh, whose office also worked on the recommendations, say more will follow. “The administrators of UO care about these issues and are addressing them by designing strategic and sustainable efforts for the institution and all its stakeholders,” Alex-Assensoh said in an email. “We believe that system-level change is the key to transforming the institution into a more equitable institution for Black students, staff and faculty.” In the meantime, Gomalo and the rest of the task force are working with the President’s committees on the resolutions. Once the resolutions are released, Gomalo said the task force will review them to ensure the demands are met. “What we don’t want is what happened to the list of demands in 1968 to happen to ours,” Gomalo said. “Our hope is that in 2028, we don’t have to talk about this.”
for all majors may be a solution. Is it something the university would be interested in pursing in its ongoing effort to improve student experiences? A: So I think we are going to increase the number of advisors on campus and I think that, I’m not willing to say that a white advisor can’t advise a minority student just like I’m not willing to say that people should be eating lunch separate from each other. So I think that it would be great as we recruit these advisors that we try to make sure there’s diversity in them and so I think that’s very important but I would hate think that you’re in a world where you can’t talk to someone and take advice from someone, in particular curriculum issues, if that person doesn’t have the same skin color. At the same time, I do think it is useful for people to have people who have shared experiences so they can let down their guards so they can talk with them. *Edited for length and clarity
Q: Flux held a community conversation in January where we asked members of
the campus and broader Eugene community what they thought were important issues or stories concerning race. There was a suggestion that minority advisors SPRING 2016 | FLUX | 27
Adorned in a prayer shawl, University of Oregon student Fahma Mohammed performs the predawn prayer, called the fajd, at 6 a.m. in her apartment. Mohammed says three phrases, counting them off on her fingertips. 28 | FLUX | ISSUE 23
There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world from over 70 countries but current social and political climates can make it difficult to see the culture for what it is â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a diverse and wide-ranging collection of people with different experiences and perspectives. Story by La'akea Kaufman
Photos By August Frank
SPRING 2016 | FLUX | 29
Fahma Mohammed Most college students couldn’t tell you what 6 a.m. looks like, but Fahma Mohammed can. She wakes up every morning around that time just as the morning light first appears across the sky to perform the fajd, or pre-dawn prayer. The late winter chill is crisp and stiff, and the emerging dawn light can be seen through the window. Mohammed slips a light blue prayer shawl over her hoodie and pajama pants, swathing her head with the remaining pieces of fabric at the hood. Her cream¬colored embroidered prayer rug lies on the floor in front of her. Mohammed’s voice is barely above a whisper, only the slight clicks in the crescendos and ruffles of fabric can be heard in her small bedroom. She lowers herself down, sits back on her heels, and rests her palms face up on her knees. She seals the prayer by kissing her hands in front of her face murmuring, “Assalam alaikum.” Muslims represent about one percent of the U.S. population, and foreign-born Muslim Americans come from at least 77 different countries, according to the Pew Research Center. The religion provides a vast ethnic diversity but in the United States, people of Muslim faith are often assumed to be of Arab ethnicity, and vice versa. Blurring the lines between race and religion and making one synonymous with the other has completely changed the experience of being Muslim and/or Arab in America. A native of Kenya, Mohammed moved to Happy Valley, Ore. when she was five. Growing up, the scope of the Muslim community around her was mostly family. There were only five other Muslims at her high school, including her sister Fahmo. Their parents were so worried about the girls standing out because of their faith they asked them not to wear their hijabs to school. “My older sister, when she was in high school, she got bullied for it,” Mohammed says. “So my parents just wanted to shelter and protect us from it.” Mohammed says she’d wear her headscarf for all other occasions — going to the grocery store or the mall, and whenever she hung out with friends. It wasn’t until she came to the University of Oregon in 2012, that she began wearing her hijab to school too. “Once I got to college and started wearing it every day, it literally became a part of who I am,” Mohammed says. “If I don’t wear 30 | FLUX | ISSUE 23
it, which I probably would never do, I feel weird.” But Mohammed’s hijab is hardly the first thing you notice about her. She’s the kind of girl who’s dressed to the nines even for an 8 a.m. class. She’s wearing sensible shoes, respectably dark pants, her silk shirt is buttoned all the way up and her cardigan is always an appropriate complimentary shade. The studs in her ears and the hijab that covers her head are merely the finishing touches. She describes her distinct style as ‘modern day hijabi’ or ‘hijabi hipster.’ “As a Muslim girl, you are supposed to dress a certain way that is seen as appropriate,”
“I’m black, I’m female and I’m Muslim. I’m kind of controversial if you think about it. But I never feel racism towards my skin color, it’s always because of my headscarf.” - Fahma Mohammed Mohammed explains. “As hijabis, we’re not allowing ourselves to be restrained with having to dress a certain way. We’re personalizing it and taking it to the next level.” The downside to this commanding kind of self-expression is the attention she gets. Sometimes, Mohammed says, she can walk into a room and immediately feel the stares. “If I’m in a grocery store or a coffee shop where I am the only Muslim, I feel like people just flock to me first because I am the odd one out,” Mohammed says. “I’m black, I’m female and I’m Muslim. I’m kind of controversial if you think about it. But I never feel racism towards my skin color, it’s always because of my headscarf.” Making friends, adjusting to a new city,
even learning to function in the college party scene while still abiding by Islamic prohibitions against drinking and smoking have been relatively seamless transitions for Mohammed. It’s the little things, like the double takes while walking down the street or the stares from across the coffee shop that throw her for a loop. “Whenever people stare at me I don’t know if it’s because of my religion, or because of the way that I am dressed,” Mohammed says. “You always stare at the odd one out.”
Above: Fahma Mohammed spends time with friends Abdulmohsin Abusaq (right) and Parsa Baghery (left) at the Mills International Center where Mohammed works. Left: Adorned in her â&#x20AC;&#x153;hijabi hipsterâ&#x20AC;? style, Fahma Mohammed makes her way to class through crowds of students on 13th Ave.
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Imam and president of the Portland Rizwan Mosque, Mirza Luqman delivers the Sabbath to the Mosques congregation on Friday. While normally the dhuhr, or midday prayer, would be recited, on Friday a sermon and prayer called the Salat Al-Jummah is recited.
Mirza Luqman Mirza Luqman has had over 30 years of experience lecturing to students, but he still gets nervous before delivering the weekly Friday prayer sermon. It’s just after noon, and any other day of the week he would be reciting just the dhuhr, or midday, prayer. But Friday is the sabbath and congregation day in Islam, so the special prayer called Salat Al-Jummah is also recited along with a sermon. Mirza is the imam, or religious leader, and president at the Portland Rizwan Mosque. Built in 1987, the mosque serves about 100 contributing members in Oregon, southwest Washington, Idaho and Utah. The mosque is also known as Ahmadiyya Movement, after the sect of Muslims it serves. On this particular Friday, Imam Luqman centers his sermon around the idea of rights as they are described in the Holy Quran. Some of the messages are standard— obey authority, fulfill the rights of people close to you, help those in need. At the end of the list is the commandment not to kill. 32 | FLUX | ISSUE 23
Imam Luqman pays special attention to this idea of a right to life, referencing the 14 people killed by two Islamic extremists at San Bernadino in December 2015. “Everybody who reads the Holy Quran and believes in the Holy Quran, for him there is no reason to kill anybody,” Luqman says from a podium at the front of the room. “Forget about 14 people, one is too many.” Luqman grew up in Saudi Arabia and lived there until he finished primary school, at which point he moved to Pakistan to continue his education. He lived in Rabwah, the headquarters for the Ahmadiyya community. In 1980, Luqman came to the U.S. to study electrical engineering at University of Arkansas. He recalls his first engineering experiment with a smile that squints his eyes. “I took a wire and put it in the plug,” Luqman laughs. “I didn’t get shocked, but there was a big spark. I fell back. For several days, our electricity was gone.” Luqman moved to Portland to teach electrical engineering in 1985, and has been a member of Rizwan Mosque since its construction. He has served as president and imam of the congregation for 12 years.
Mirza Luqman has been in the U.S. for 36 years. “It is the biggest responsibility or obligation that I feel,” Luqman says. “Making advice to other people, particularly when you may have your own sins and weaknesses. First you have to fix yourself.” This involves a lot of studying, listening to sermons given by the leaders at the Ahmadiyya National Headquarters in London, staying on top of current events and making himself available to the congregation and guests at the mosque at any given time. At the end of the day, Imam Luqman hopes the work he does on behalf of his religion and his community help him, in turn, to be a better person. He illustrates this point with a story:
“A mother brought her child to the Prophet Mohammed,” Luqman says. “She said, ‘He eats too much sugar and sweets.’ The Prophet said, ‘Bring him back tomorrow.’ So, the lady brought her child back to Mohammed the next day and the Prophet said, ‘Don’t eat too much sugar.’ The mother said, ‘You could have said the same thing yesterday!’ The Prophet said, ‘Yesterday I ate some myself.’” Luqman laughs, his eyes wrinkling at the corners again. “So, I hope this is improving me,” he says. “Allah is the judge of that.”
Dr. Baher Butti At around 4 pm, Muslims pray the midafternoon asr prayer. Although, if you asked Dr. Baher Butti, he probably wouldn’t be able to tell you why. Born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq, Dr. Butti is an Orthodox Christian who came to the U.S. on asylum in 2007. “Many people do not know that there are Christians in Iraq,” Dr. Butti says. “Actually, we are the natives.” Coming from Iraq, many people assume Dr. Butti Muslim. He is often asked when he converted to Christianity. “And I say, ‘For heaven’s sake, we are the natives of Iraq!” he says. Back home, Dr. Butti saw a lot of destruction in his hometown, both during and after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Recalling some of those experiences can be troubling. He stands out on the sidewalk on a chilly winter day in Beaverton, Oregon, holding a cigarette between his index and middle fingers. “You can’t have conversations like these without Nicotine,” Dr. Butti jokes. Representing the Christian faction as head of the Iraqi Minorities Council, Dr. Butti was a candidate in the 2005 elections in Baghdad. He had his own practice as a psychiatrist, and was working within the community to document the psychiatric consequences of the war on Iraqi civilians. He wrote articles addressing political, governmental and humanitarian issues, many of them criticizing the Iraqi government. In 2006, Dr. Butti wrote an article that was critical of the pro-Iraqi militias. Shortly after that, his name appeared on a list of threat-toassassinations by the same militia. “We had to leave immediately,” Dr. Butti says of him and his family. “I went to my brother who was living in the Arab Emirates. We lived there for six months, then I went to Jordan.”
Dr. Butti was invited by Portland psychiatrist Dr. Mark Kinzie to participate in the World Congress of Cultural Psychiatry conference in Beijing in 2006. Shortly after that, he applied for asylum within the U.S. with Dr. Kinzie as his sponsor. It would be two years before his wife, daughter and two sons would be reunited with him and accepted into the country as refugees. About 19 percent of refugee applications that have been accepted in the past six months in the state of Oregon are Iraqi, according to the State Department. This makes Iraqis the second-highest refugee population in the state after Syrians. Dr. Butti wasted no time getting involved in his new community. “I was pretty active back home, so I thought I could do that here,” Dr. Butti says. “I started wandering around in Portland. I went to see what it looked like, what was happening here.” He completed a training program through the Center for Intercultural Organizing in 2008. The following year, Dr. Butti founded the Iraqi Society of Oregon with the mission of providing resources and community for Iraqi immigrants. He’s also worked as a refugee caseworker for the Lutheran Community Services. Dr. Butti thinks there needs to be a shift in society’s conception of refugees and where they fit into the community. “They have this idea that the refugee is a savage person,” Dr. Butti says. “They think all we care about is our veil, that we are
“They have this idea that the refugee is a savage person." - Dr.Butti violent extremist people.” This stigma, he says, hinders the refugees’ integration into society, and leaves many qualified, educated professionals unable to contribute to their new communities. “People couldn’t understand how to deal with educated people, how to get them recertified, to make use of their expertise,” Dr. Butti explains. “Someone who has a degree in engineering or is a doctor, and then you tell them to start working housekeeping in a hotel? There are no programs yet for these kind of professionals.” Dr. Butti has experienced this first-hand. Although he has a doctorate degree and decades of experience in psychiatry, he is currently unemployed. His wife, who was a doctor back in Iraq, currently works as an interpreter. Both served Iraq for nearly 20 years, but will receive no pension for doing so. “What does it mean that you had your status back home but you lost everything?” Dr. Butti says. “We’re told, ‘You should just be grateful that you are here.’”
Dr. Baher Butti stands in the St. Ignatius of Antioch Church. Butti, an orthodox Christian, was born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq, and came to the U.S. on asylum in 2007. SPRING 2016 | FLUX | 33
IbrahimHamide The outdoor back patio of Cafe Soriah is packed on a warm early spring evening. The clank of glasses and the low hum of conversation waft with the smell of Mediterranean spices emanating from a nearby kitchen window. The 7 p.m. dinner rush is slowly starting to pick up, and owner Ibrahim Hamide is armed and ready, skillet in hand. He too is sharing the patio space, cooking on a portable stove atop a wooden wheeling cart. “You couldn’t drag me inside on a night like this,” Hamide says, looking up at the fading pale blue sky. Hamide tosses condiments from one hand to another — a splash of wine here, a pinch of salt there, a dollop of butter greets the pan with an audible sizzle. Cafe Soriah, which opened in 1993, is one of four restaurants Hamide started in Eugene. The cuisine is Mediterranean with a Northwest twist, combining both of Hamides hometowns in one. Born in Bethlehem in 1950, which, was at the time was still Jordanian territory, Hamide has fond memories of the city as a hub for international tourism and as a holy site for Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. He remembers meeting tourists at the Manger Square and practicing his English with them in the fifth grade. Although he grew up in a Muslim family, Hamide says his parents were teachers, not preachers. They were spiritual people, they were farmers, and they took it upon themselves to make sure Hamide was versed in the sacred texts of other religions as well. “My father, who has a fourth grade education, read me the Torah and the Bible,” Hamide says. “He kept them in his little box. Unusual, it is not a typical thing, but that is where I came from.” Hamide was in Bethlehem when the Six Day War broke out in 1967. He helped transport around 30 neighbors to safety to his family’s farmhouse about five miles away. “We couldn’t use the main arteries because we thought that Israeli soldiers would be there,” Hamide says. “I, being 17, knew the back roads because I used to hunt birds.
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I ended up carrying a couple of kids on my back, we trekked and we got them to safety.” Hamide continued to live in the occupied territories for a year before leaving to live with his older brother in Geneva, and then moving to Eugene to attend University of Oregon on April 1, 1969. “I was bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and fell off the turnip boat,” Hamide says. “The one thing that I loved about this town is that they smiled at me. They didn’t call me names, they just smiled. That captured my heart.” Hamide has worn many hats in his 47 years here, including serving as Human Rights Commissioner, and co-founding groups like the Eugene Middle East Peace Group and the Willamette World Affairs Council. After 9/11, Hamide says he felt a responsibility to step up and be what he calls “the defacto spokesperson for Palestinians” as well as the broader Muslim community. He says he did so not in order to vindicate Islam, but to offer support for his community. “I don’t defend Islam because to me, that’s God’s job,” Hamide says. “It’s God’s word, he can defend it. I am just a mere human being.” In the months following the infamous terrorist attack, he had bricks thrown through his restaurant window twice, and even a smoke bomb. One of his employees was threatened to have his family killed. “This became an issue, Islamophobia,” Hamide says. “Of course whenever something happens — Paris, Brussels or San Bernadino — it rears its head again. So I have put on that hat, out of need, again.” A YouGov poll conducted one week after the San Bernadino terrorist attack found that 58 percent of American respondents said they have an “unfavorable” view of Islam. The study did not note the racial identity of those who practice the religion. Current events aside, Hamide will continue to be steadfast in pursuing the path of peace and understanding. “Soul searching is important, and we need to do a lot more of it,” Hamide says. “Every one of us — Jews, Christians, Muslims and non-believers. Because in the name of those religions, many people have perished and continue to.”
“The one thing that I loved about this town is that they smiled at me. They didn’t call me names, they just smiled. That captured my heart.”
Flames roar near the face of chef and owner of Café Soriah, Ibrahim Hamide, as he prepares Steak Diane for his customers on the back patio.
g t t . e t ”
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Mohammed Alkhadher performs with his band, The Nouns, at Cozmic Pizza. Alkahader is the lead vocalist for the band whose music is a combination of hip hop and jazz.
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Mohammed Alkhadher Mohammed Alkhadher doesn’t pray, but when he steps up to the microphone the words that come out of his mouth sound a lot like homage. It’s just after 9 p.m., when the final prayer of the day, the isha, is usually done. But Alkhadher is busy working the crowd at Cozmic in Eugene, sharing the stage with his band, The Nouns. They’re best described as hip hop jazz fusion; mixing the sounds of saxophone, keyboard, drums, and bass creating something like a lyrically-conscious parade. Alkhadher holds the microphone in his left hand, and taps his right hand on the stand to the beat of his drummer behind him. Though he’s donning a black hoodie and black pants, the stage lights paint him in hues of red, orange and purple. “I came across the world to tell you how small it is,” Alkhadher begins in his song “No One Left.” Born to a Kuwaiti father and an American mother, Alkhadher moved to Kuwait when he was a year old. He spent most of his time there until he returned to the U.S. to finish his senior year of high school in Oregon. Now, at 25, Alkhadher is finishing his last year of college as a journalism and media studies student at the University of Oregon. In his budding career as a journalist, he’s produced two albums under his rap surname, BigMo, and is working on another with The Nouns. “My music is very much who I am — just a kid from both sides of the world trying to show you we’re more the same than we are different,” Alkhadher says. Through his music, Alkhadher proves to be a wordsmith in his own right. He raps about personal and political subjects, mainly racial and religious tensions as he experiences them being half Arab, half American. “My lyrics are about being an Arab in America, so I hope you like it,” Alkhadher says before the band’s Cozmic performance. He made a similar clarifying statement after one song where he rapped in Arabic. “If you don’t get it, I’m not making up words,” he says. “It’s Arabic.” If the crowd was confused, they didn’t show it. By the band’s second song, people were already up and on the dance floor. Being mixed race made Alkhadher stand out
among his peers. In Kuwait, he was made fun of for being light-skinned. “My nickname was Mohammed the American,” he says. “Whiteness, for the most part, is prized in the Middle East. And I think that’s why I was teased for it so much as a kid.” In America, Alkhadher says he feels besieged on multiple fronts for being Muslim. Specifically through more covert methods like biased media coverage and social media platforms. “They’re all microaggressions,” Alkhadher says. “Nobody has ever tried to fight me because of where I’m from. No one has outright sworn at me like they do on social media. Behind the screen, we can say whatever we want and there’s going to be no repercussions for it.” These aren’t just random hecklers, Alkhadher says. They’re political leaders, entertainment professionals, even mutual friends. He recalls an incident in high school with the family of one of his closest friends: “I remember them saying, ‘Our friends see pictures of you online, and they ask ‘Are you really hanging out with a Mohammed?’ And his Mom was like, ‘Oh, he’s not like those Mohammed’s.’” Alkhadher has since stopped talking with that friend, but he says he learned an important lesson from that friendship and its eventual demise. “They never accepted where I was from, they accepted that I was Americanized,” Alkhadher says. “At the point that I started to contradict their beliefs, I was quickly disowned.” Part of it, Alkhadher concedes, is human nature: he thinks people gravitate towards sources that reinforce their own ideas, and reject people who challenge them. Through his music, his journalistic work and his attitude, Alkhadher hopes to push those boundaries. “I do believe that people are inherently good, but I also believe that we are misguided,” Alkhadher says. “What I want to do is I want to inspire you to think. I want you to question.” By the end of his set, Alkhadher has taken the mic from the stand. He’s bending his knees, leaning back and ushering the song forward with his free hand. Over a dozen people are out of their seats dancing below the stage. The rest of the room is nearly full, their eyes fixed on Alkhadher, commanding the stage as he brings in the last verse of the show. “First they came for them, then they came for me,” Alkhadher sings in “No One Left.” “When they come for you, there’ll be no one left to speak.”
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RIGHTS With its longtime Native American mascot under scrutiny, a rural Oregon town tries to decide who has the right to define the Warrior image.
Story by Forrest Welk Inside the walls of the Lebanon High School gymnasium, students cheer loudly for the basketball team they call their own. It’s senior night, and emotions are high. Almost everyone is dressed in white, with some sporting white face paint — a reflection of a traditional school “white out” in support of their home team: The Warriors. Most people are engrossed in the basketball game and don’t seem to notice the absence of the school’s longtime mascot — a Native American in a traditional headdress. Some do. One parent stands alone in the lobby. His long dark hair matches his unzipped black leather jacket that reveals a white t-shirt underneath. His demeanor is calm and friendly, a sharp contrast from the wild roars from the crowd inside. Nick Stewart lives in Lebanon, but his roots are in Northern California as a member of the Karuk tribe. As an indigenous person, Stewart
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Photos by Jessica Frink says he is not offended by Lebanon’s use of the Warrior image. His daughter, Morgan, agrees. The senior is among the 1.4 percent of students at Lebanon High School who identify as Native American. She doesn’t believe the removal of the Warrior image is sign of respect to her culture. Instead, she said the issue reflects a broader trend experienced by Native Americans: “It felt like we were being erased.” This issue lies at the heart of a heated debate ensuing across Oregon. Fourteen schools in the state currently use Native American imagery. However, a 2012 Oregon Board of Education ruling, which gave Oregon schools five years to remove Native American imagery or risk losing funding, forced schools to rethink their branding. In the wake of subsequent protests from communities such as Lebanon, the board recently relented and opted to allow certain exceptions: Schools could keep their mascots, but only with permission from a local tribe.
Students walk past the Warrior sculpture mounted in front of Lebanon High School. Because the state considers the piece art, it is allowed to remain despite new legislation restricting the use of Native imagery in schools.
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Right: Yvette Meyer finishes her best seller, a sweatshirt embroidered with the Warrior. Meyer owns Meyer Embroidery, a shop in downtown Lebanon that designs apparel.
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Left: Senior Morgan Stewart is crowned princess during a pep assembly under the Warrior banner. Bottom: Librarians Becky Thompson and Bev Smith look through yearbooks. The first depiction of the mascot was in 1938.
The overturn put schools like Lebanon in limbo. The Warrior logo has been phased out, replaced by a generic “LW”. While renovations were being made on the basketball court floor, administration took the opportunity to implement the new look. However, the Warrior branding still prevails in this community of 15,000. The Native American imagery can be found scattered throughout the school and the community at large. Students and fans proudly sport apparel emblazoned with the Warrior logo, and lawn signs with the mascot plastered on them dot the community. Most prominently, a large metal art piece depicting a Native American man on horseback graces the front of the high school.
The latter, considered art by the state, will remain mounted on the building. Despite the prevalence of the Warrior in the community, not everyone takes pride in the image. One such opponent, Jennifer Walter, actively works to educate people about the potential negative effects of culturally appropriating Native American imagery. “There are older people in this community that are like, ‘You can’t take this away from us; this is our heritage,’ says Walter, a retired lawyer and teacher who formerly taught at Lebanon High School. “Which is kind of interesting because the argument on the other side is: This is our heritage that goes back hundreds of years and you’re disrespecting our heritage.”
Finding a Local Tribe That heritage runs deep in Oregon, which has eight federally recognized tribes. Historically, the Kalapuya tribe lies closest to modern-day Lebanon. Specifically, the Santiam people were part of the larger Kalapuya tribe, and they resided near the Santiam River, which flows less than 25 miles from Lebanon High School. Today, the Kalapuya tribe is a member of the Confederate Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon, which consists of 27 smaller bands. Tribal lobbyist Justin Martin said there is no specific representative for Kalapuya. Grand Ronde, headquartered in Salem, is one of the federally recognized Oregon tribes SPRING 2016 | FLUX | 41
Native American Tribal Regions & Oregon High Schools
1 Roseburg Indians 3%
2 Scapoose Indians 2.4% 3 Siletz Valley Warriors 33.6% 4 Warenton Warriors 1.5% 5 Philomath Warriors 1.8% 6 Reedsport Braves 5.9%
Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon
8 Amity Warriors 2.6%
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
7 Rogue River Chieftains 0.6% 9 Banks Braves 0.03%
Confederated Tribes of Warm Spring
Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians
10 Lebanon Warriors 1.4%
11 Mohawk Indians 1% 12 Molalla Indians 1.1%
Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians
13 North Douglas Indians 0%
Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians
14 Oakridge Warriors 3.2%
*Percentage of Native American students at schools in Oregon in relation to tribal regions
whose official position has been supportive of the Warrior image. Grand Ronde celebrated the Oregon Board of Education decision to allow schools to keep Native American mascots with permission. Martin said he believes the state has no right to tell tribes what is culturally appropriate or not. In addition, he said that unlike “Savages” and “Redskins,” names such as “Warriors,” “Indians,” “Braves” and “Chiefs” aren’t necessarily offensive. “We’re proud of those names, and we want to make sure that they stay around,” Martin said. So far, Lebanon High School has not contacted Grand Ronde for permission to use the Warrior mascot, according to Kraig Hoene, assistant principal and athletics director at the school. Hoene said the high school is still trying to figure out what a new mascot would look like before reaching out to the tribe.
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“If it’s allowed by the state, and the community feels strongly that we should move in that direction, then we should probably listen to that a little bit,” Hoene said.
“We’re proud of those names, and we want to make sure that they stay around.” - Justin Martin Martin said that Grand Ronde welcomes partnerships with schools, in part because they offer an opportunity to teach students about Native American history – a subject that is not comprehensively taught in many schools. He said the tribe has developed a Native American curriculum that it would
like to see implemented in high schools that maintain their namesakes. “Our students can learn about Oregon tribes, not just what is traditionally taught in half a day in a history class,” he said.
Potential for Compromise That spirit of education and partnership is on display some 500 miles away, in the community of Spokane, Wash., There, the Spokane Indians minor league baseball team takes great care to depict Native American images with authenticity and has formed a unique partnership with the local tribe it takes its name from, attracting national attention. As schools look for solutions, some have pointed to Spokane as a potential model. The Spokane Indians, a farm team for the Texas Rangers, was named after the tribe during its inception in 1958. Two years ago, the team redesigned its logo and uniforms to
Lebanon High School track athlete Elizabeth Meyr practices hurdles during track practice.
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Left: Warrior senior Isaac Garber throws t-shirts to the crowd. Above: Students wear white to support their home team as part of the school’s “white-out” tradition.
more accurately reflect the team it represents. Two versions of the logo design now exist: one in English and one in the native Salish language. The Spokane Indians and the Spokane Tribe meet twice a year to discuss how the Native American group feels about the tribe’s representation in all aspects of their portrayal. “Indians is not just a nickname,” said Otto Klein, the Spokane Indians Senior Vice President. “The Spokane Tribe is very proud as a Native American community to have a baseball team named in their honor.” Carol Evans, chairwoman of the Spokane Tribe, said the tribe has fully embraced the relationship with the team. “Whenever they proposed something regarding the mascot, they always come to us to get input. Whatever input we provide, they always utilize it,” Evans said. “They have always been open and honest and really trying to please. We’re in a good relationship.”
On the Court At Lebanon High, opinions vary on what next steps the school should take. The student section let out a final cheer as the buzzer signified a Lebanon victory at the last home game of the season. Soon
after, students and parents covered the court, conversing and congratulating the players. Jordan Jeffers, a junior, stood out as a particularly active participant in the student section. His face was covered entirely in white paint in support of his school, topped with a backwards-facing cap. A white t-shirt, which stated “We Will Always Be Warriors” beneath the headdress logo, completed his “white out” attire After the game, he gathered with his friends, ecstatic at the win. He said that his face paint was not inspired by any sort of tribal war paint, but rather a generic reflection of school pride.
“It felt like we were being erased.” - Morgan Stewart
“I think it’s ridiculous that the Warrior head is something that’s being taken away,” Jeffers said. “It’s something that’s prideful.” But Misa Smith, a graduate of Lebanon High and current senior at the University of Oregon, disagrees. Now living in Eugene, Smith said she experiences a level of cultural
tolerance that is missing from her hometown. Changing the namesake, she argued, would help rectify that, and spark a “discourse or dialogue of inclusiveness about what people of color go through.” Meanwhile, Morgan Stewart said she can see both sides. Even though both of her parents are fully Native American, the high school senior said she feels “separated” from her background. Her heritage tends to fly under the radar of many of her classmates. “They don’t believe I’m Native until they see me with my dad or grandma because they look more Native,” she said. As Stewart’s high school career comes to a close, she savors every day, laughing with her friends in class, participating in track & field and acting in her school’s theatre program. Her heritage benefited her in her role in the production of Peter Pan, helping her authentically portray Native American Princess, Tiger Lily. While holding theatre near to her heart, she hopes to study biochemistry at her next destination, Portland State University. Reflecting on her time in Lebanon, Stewart said the mascot has not made her feel targeted or disrespected. In fact, she feels pride in being a Warrior, saying, “It made me feel more represented.” SPRING 2016 | FLUX | 45
Ailinginae Likiep Ujelang
Erikub Ebeye Lib
Arno Ailinglaplap Jalauit
Illustrations by Allie Witham
Photo essay by Savannah Blake Words by Jen Jackson
Some 5,000 miles from the tropical South Pacific, the sun is usually hidden behind an overcast sky. Yet nestled among the towering forests of Oregon, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll find what is now one of the largest Marshallese communities in the world. Over the past 30 years, hundreds of Marshallese have come here from islands like Rongelap building a new life after escaping the effects of U.S. nuclear testing and are working to preserve their culture here in Oregon.
Kianna Juda-Angelo (pictured with her son Konstantin) is Marshallese but was raised in Portland, Oregon. When she found birth family, she found the Marshallese community. She said,â&#x20AC;&#x153;After reading up about the Marshallese people and where I come from, I noticed that they were really struggling.â&#x20AC;?
Right: Marshallese children avoid eye contact out of respect but watch dancers intently. Bottom: Paradise of Samoa helps keep the culture alive in Oregon by helping to ring in traditional celebrations. The Polynesian dances focus on hand movement and are often accompanied by island songs.
While island culture is celebrated, it has also forced compromises. Traditionally, children are taught to show adults respect by avoiding eye contact, but in Oregon schools, teachers need their attention. 48 | FLUX | ISSUE 23
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Right: Craftsmanship from the islands is being preserved by people like David Anderson, who works on the rig, utilizing knots traditional of the Marshallese Islands. Bottom: Living Islands, an Oregon-based non-profit, introduced a year-long project in 2015 to build a traditional 25-foot outrigger canoe. The rig is taking shape at Portland State University where events are held to teach the community about the traditions, heritage and history of the Marshall Islands and its people.
is very important. Each knot is tied in a specialized system. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; David Anderson
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When someone makes it past the first year,
it’s a big celebration .
— Lote Kiluwei
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Left: The entire island community is invited to a first birthday party, usually complete with dancers and music. Close family and friends travel out-of-state and even cross oceans to join the celebration. Above: The community in Oregon preserves its island culture through traditional events like birthday parties where a celebration for an infant can garner hundreds of guests. Lote Kiluwei celebrated grandson Christopherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first birthday on April 24.
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Students from around the community came for a portrait shoot and answered a not-so-simple question. By Whitney Bradshaw
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Americans chose two or more racial categories when asked about their race.
“I’m black. African-American, white, Indian, and French. It’s actually a really interesting question because I’ve been asked that question my whole life. ‘What are you?’ growing up with kids on the playground and kids that I met throughout my life this question ‘what are you?’ And my first response is to say I’m a certain ethnicity but in reality when I think about it I’d say I’m a human. I’m just like you. I’m just like everybody else. I hate that we are put in these categories of what we are like the perceptions that people have.” - Macaihah Broussard
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I am Guatemalan, Mexican and German.
“I am half Filipino, half white I guess. I’m a girl. Umm I’m an artist. I’m ‘mestiza’ which is like the Filipino word for like mixed race I guess.”
- Haydee Romero
- Marisa Smith
“You’re asking my ethnicity right? I am Mexican. I am Irish. I am Italian. And I am German. That’s it. I’m not Native American, I’m not well… I don’t think I am but uh my grandfather grew up in Mexico. My grandpa has relatives in Germany and Ireland.” - Adam Eberhardt
“I’m half white and half Japanese.” - Ian Murphy
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My race? I’m white, Hispanic, Asian, German, French. - Ben Ogletree
“I’m half Columbian and I’d say a quarter German and a quarter Swedish. Do you want more? I guess I’ve never really thought too much about where I come from. I visit my Columbian family once or twice a year and identify strongly with them. I would say I’m Columbian. I like to think of myself as Columbian.” - Lucas Ahlqhist
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“I’m a woman.” - Keixa Bridges
â&#x20AC;&#x153;I am Native American. I am Kalapuya and I am a part of the confederated tribes of Grand Ronde.â&#x20AC;? - Kara Jenness
of all adults in the United States consider themselves of two or more races. SPRING 2016 | FLUX | 59
“I am Cuban. I am Russian Jewish. I am Italian. I’m Austrian. I’m English. I’m a lot of things. But mostly I just see myself as human.” - Andrea Willingham
“What am I? I am a human. I am a lover of nature and dogs and writing. A person of color and a aspiring producer. I am a photo connoisseur and a coffee lover. I am a… God this is hard. I am a traveler. I’m a student here at the University of Oregon.” - Hailei Aberson-Holford
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Today, “I am half Filipino, half white. I have a lot of European in me. I have some Scottish. I have some Irish. I have a lot. And then on my mom's side I am just half Filipino. But a lot of people consider me Hispanic when they see me, which I’m not but... it’s just annoying but it doesn’t really bother me anymore. It used to when I was younger but now I just kinda go with it or just say that’s not what I am.”
nearly half (46%) of all multiracial Americans are younger than 18. “I am one-quarter Hispanic and three quarters various European backgrounds.”
- Mckenna Glaser
- Wes Franco
“I’m half Japanese, half European.” - Key Higdon
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Total percentage of students of color in the UO student body.
“I’m AfricanAmerican.” - Javonte Byrd
“I am African-American and Native American.” - Alexandra Peterson
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“I’m half Indian and half Italian but there’s also a little bit of German Irish and Spanish thrown in there on the Italian side somehow. What more do you want me to say? That’s what I am racially. Like that’s literally it.” - Allison Bruno
“I am Korean-American.” - Kaylee Domzalski
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Awab Al-Rawe, the President of the Arab Student Union, and Jason Kim, Outreach Coordinator of the Veterans and Family Student Association have both, through their personal experiences, realized the importance of friendship between their communities. This friendship would later influence Al-Rawe to work to overcome barriers between the Jewish and Arab communities.
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In the chaos of war, it can be difficult to see beyond the bias. But at the University of Oregon, an unlikely pair is working together to form bonds and look toward the future. Story by Andy Tsubasa Field
Photos by Savannah Blake
t is an idle Friday afternoon in the suburbs of Baghdad, Iraq — the year is 2007. Awab Al-Rawe, 15, is eating lunch in the kitchen with his family. Like any other Friday, Al-Rawe’s aunt, uncle, and two cousins have visited for the day. The neighbor’s dog begins to bark, rupturing the calm. Al-Rawe has lived in his house for his entire life, with the same neighbors, with the same dog — and he has never heard it snarl and bark so viciously. A single gunshot replaces the dog’s warning; the neighbor’s door bursts open, and the female occupant of the house shrieks. Panic ensues within the Al-Rawe household. A minute passes; they hear the sound of a trunk closing and engines starting up. Al-Rawe and his family emerge outside to catch two black 2001 Opel cars race into the distance. Al-Rawe’s mother immediately calls the U.S. military. Later in the day, the Al-Rawes receive a call from the American security forces. They had found their neighbor’s body at the neighborhood school: his hands tied behind his back and a bullet lodged in his skull. The next morning, the Al-Rawe family realizes their decision to alert the Americans would change their lives forever. There is a note on their door, “You are next, you are collaborators, you do not belong here.” Al Qaeda. SPRING 2016 | FLUX | 65
Six years earlier, 18-year-old Jason Kim was standing guard at the Pentagon. He was smoking a cigarette when he heard the blast of American Airlines Flight 77 crashing into the building. It was September 11, 2001. Since then, both men have landed at the University of Oregon and are working together to move past the chaos of war by letting go of battle-born prejudices and building bridges between traditionally feuding cultures. But it’s been a long road to peace.
Distressing Memories Al-Rawe experienced challenges when he arrived at the University of Oregon campus. In a college town such as Eugene, hearing a loud bass blaring from cars, apartment
Jason Kim partnered with Awab AlRawe after his own traumatic experience as a member of the armed forces during the war in Iraq. The two meet regularly, sometimes over a meal at Red Robin, to find new ways to bring veteran and Arab groups on campus together. 66 | FLUX | ISSUE 23
Israel has broken off relations with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Israel also shares a tense relationship with the Palestine National Authority controlling the West Bank. Last October, violence between Palestinians
and Israelis had increased to 620 incidents, sparking fear of a mass uprising. Part of the dispute is over the holy site in Jerusalem regarded by Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and Jews as the Temple Mount.
*Source: Israel Security Agency, Shin Bet
complexes and frat houses on a Friday night is not uncommon. However, for Al-Rawe, such noises remind him of bombs exploding during his childhood in a war-torn Iraq, which caused him to change where he lived several times. Another issue for Al-Rawe is seeing littered bags on the street. “I think that there is a bomb underneath; I swear to you, that is the first thing that comes to mind,” Al-Rawe said, “but then I think, ‘I am in Eugene, it’s not a bomb.’” Transitioning to life back home wasn’t any easier for Kim. His experiences on 9/11 still shape his choices today. During the ensuing panic of the terrorist attacks, Kim was ordered to search every vehicle headed in the direction of a
nearby middle school and hospital. While coordinating with the F.B.I. Kim was told that there were vehicles with explosives in the area. “So, I’m 18, just got this training, and I am searching every vehicle thinking to myself ‘this one is going to blow up, this is going to happen,” Kim said. In the months following 9/11, the armed forces remained vigilant in protecting areas in the military district of Washington D.C. and Kim continued to search lines of vehicles for any potential threat. “There was a lot of tension in going in there, coming out, and thinking, ‘man, maybe I tuned out — what if this bus goes in there and explodes, and it is my fault,’” Kim said. It was during this time when Kim began
to notice that his fellow officers would single out Middle Eastern passengers during their bus searches and it left him disillusioned. “Since we had a public bus which would go through our base, whenever we would see people of Middle Eastern descent, we would always bring in the dogs, we would kind of interrogate them; we have a different procedure when we see Middle Eastern people on the bus.” Kim said. To this day, Kim chooses not to ride on buses as it triggers memories of his September 11 duties.
A Therapy in Friendship Al-Rawe also fought wartime triggers but at Al-Rawe also fought wartime triggers but at the UO, he took a unique approach to conquering them. For Al-Rawe, seeing members of the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) community wearing army uniforms on Thursdays set off memories of his past. However, Al-Rawe found hope in a single solution: Befriend the UO’s military community. Soon Al-Rawe would find himself in a green shirt emblazoned with “Oregon ROTC” as he performed physical training drills alongside them. He would also spend time in the Mills Center teaching Arabic to military veterans. “When you live year after year, and you are exposed to new things, you get a better perception. And so when I had this experience it made me grow in terms of what I think about individual people and their groups,” Al-Rawe said. “From then on, I was actually interested in communicating with those people who I thought were not on the same side as I was.” Fast-forward to 2015, Al-Rawe is now a graduate student studying Conflict and Dispute Resolution at the UO and is the President of the Arab Student Union (ASU). Since Al-Rawe started his term, he and Kim have spearheaded a bond between the ASU and the Veterans and Family Student Association (VFSA), and the
two groups support each other’s events: from hanging posters promoting them throughout campus, to standing alongside each other when one of the groups would request event funding from the student government. However, the relationship is deeper than that of simply a student group partnership — members from both groups have formed friendships that continue off campus. During Super Bowl 50, Kim and members of the UO’s veteran community held a watch party at his house and invited the students from the ASU and Muslim Student Association (MSA). Kim just made sure to remind his American guests not to offer the Muslim students any alcohol during the gathering.
A New Gap to Bridge The relationships Al-Rawe established with Kim and the veteran community inspired him to branch out towards a new goal — to build relationships between Muslim and Jewish students. Al-Rawe joined the recently established “Manzil Midrash” (a combination of Hebrew and Arabic words to form “House of Study”), program run by the Oregon Hillel Center, Jewish Student Union (JSU), MSA and ASU, and he facilitates discussions where Jewish and Muslim students meet to talk about topics such as fashion, food, views on relationships, famous figures, and stereotypes directed at their identities. Students share personal stories and perk up as they discover similarities shared in their experiences. After a while, the more regular attendees would start to form close friendships. Through his work, Al-Rawe began to cultivate a fascination with Jewish culture and attended Shabbat festivities, even cohosting one with Jewish and Muslim student group leaders in February. However in May 2015, Al-Rawe wanted to put the developing bonds between members of the Arab Student Union and Jewish groups to the ultimate test — to pepper these interactions
There are currently around 4,850 U.S. troops in Iraq for the purpose of advising and training Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces. The US-led coalition forces have conducted over 6,300 airstrikes over Iraq, which has caused ISIS to lose 40 percent of its territory. However, according to the Iraq Body Count, 845 civilians have been killed from coalition airstrikes. *Source: Reuters
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Awab Al-Rawe and Lev Silberstein, the Student Body President of Oregon Hillel, host a discussion addressing stereotypes directed at both groups. Behind is an anti-Semitic cartoon that was published by the Qatar-based newspaper Al-Watan in 2002.
with conversations on the controversial IsraelPalestinian conflict. Initially, things got off to a rocky start. When Al-Rawe and the Arab Student Union suddenly hosted a conversation about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, many of the Jewish students felt that the ASU had not reached out to them and that the event was an attack on their views. “A lot of Jewish students came in very angry and a lot of Arab Student Union members there were also very angry,” said Erin Horwitz, the President of the JSU, regarding the event, “so a bunch of people came ready to argue and defend their beliefs instead of learn from each other.” Horwitz and Drew Williams, the President of the Muslim Student Association, had worked together with Al-Rawe on Manzil Midrash; they knew that his intentions were only to strengthen their relationships to each
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other through conversation and not convert anyone to either side. “It was a little heated,” Williams said, “but that really showed us that people are interested in talking about this, and it is something that we should talk about, but we just need to tweak a few things.” The three met up with other Jewish and Muslim student leaders and introduced guidelines to make the conflict talks more about learning the opposing perspectives instead of fighting them.
There is only “I” Today, when students engage in one of AlRawe’s Israeli-Palestinian conflict discussions, they find themselves immediately face-to-face with a sheet of house rules. One of the rules instructs they use only “I” statements. “A lot of people feel like they have to speak on the behalf of all of Israel, or all
of Palestinians and don’t,” Horwitz said, “because my beliefs are very different from someone else’s beliefs and from the beliefs of the government.” Once the conversation starts, students will find themselves in an environment of ardent inquirers — the attendants will share compelling research that they have stumbled across for others to compare with their own to attempt to make more sense of the conflict. As Muslim, Jewish, and community members of other faiths pursue a solution, the turbulent region almost comes to life in the room, as the attendees paint a picture of what a peaceful conclusion to the conflict might look like. Al-Rawe, his face lit with passion, spurs the participants into thought as he paces the room; a lively personality who can always inject humor into a difficult subject to understand. “Imagine two football [soccer] stadiums in
Iraq does not recognize Israel as a legitimate country and therefore, does not have diplomatic relations. During Israel’s military offensive on the Gaza Strip in 2012, Iraq called on all Arab nations to sever ties with Israel. Meanwhile, Israel supports an independent Kurdish state. *Source: Reuters
"Without exposure to reality, you just have an idea." - Awab Al-Rawe Jerusalem — one Arab, one Jewish playing” said Al-Rawe during one event, his voice gradual and soothing, “We can’t have two big stadiums in Jerusalem, so one big stadium for Arabs and Jews, or two states.” The bemused crowd gradually stirs into laughter at the thought of soccer determining the fate of what has been around 50 years of violent conflict. Al-Rawe sits in his office in Oregon Hall. It is several hours before his movie screening of “A Bottle in the Gaza Sea,” a film about a friendship between a 17-yearold Frenchwoman living in Israel and a Palestinian man residing in Gaza. Al-Rawe receives a lengthy Facebook message in his inbox from a friend who had recently enrolled at the UO from the Middle East. He’s hesitant about the invitation. Back home, it was common place to boycott Israel but since coming to Eugene and meeting Al-
The US provides more military aid than any other country in the world. However, the Obama administration has tangled with Israel’s leaders over its calls to halt Israel’s construction of settlements into East Jerusalem and move borders back to where they were before the Six-Day War. *Source: BBC
Rawe, he’s not so sure. And it’s confusing. Al-Rawe smiled and typed back, “No worries, I understand, it’s not about Israel, it’s just about a relationship, a relationship of hope.” The student finally concluded that he was not going to attend the event. “I think that we will continue to talk in the future, so we can learn from each other and be exposed to reality, because without this exposure, you just have an idea,” Al-Rawe said. “The same goes about the veterans and the Arabs — you can have an idea, that the veterans are invaders, that they are soldiers who want to destroy Arab countries like Iraq and Syria, and that they are usually right wing, hawkish people, who are interested in a war. These are all ideas that you can grow up learning about through stories, but that is not reality. It could be reality, but you would never know unless you see it.”
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RACISM CALLING Oregon’s racist roots and their ties to the KKK in the era of Trump and Trayvon. Personal essay by Caitlyn May
They didn’t knock on the door. Instead, last fall the residents of West Linn, Ore., found their “literature” stuffed into clear, plastic bags with a piece of candy held to their stoops by a rock. The police captain would later tell local news outlets he thought it was a prank; until house-by-house clear, plastic bags showed up. Each one the same. A piece of candy, a rock and a note: “Save our land, join the Klan.” I have no idea what race I am. There’s a family rumor of a clan in Ireland. Generations of bone structure ailments have been blamed on some
Illustrations by Allie Witham
mysterious Russians. All I do know is that my mother was born in Juarez, Mexico. A DNA kit (hocked online) said her blood reads Mayan and a psychic once told her that her hands spoke Tarahumaran. But I have no idea what I am other than it’s not completely the privileged pigment that drives a Mercedes without being stopped. It’s more like something a faction in this country is demanding go home. At least half. The other half is the skin tone that hid under white hoods. I’ve always been half of something. None of that bothered me until I moved from New
York to Oregon by way of Nevada. I had been under the impression that it was a blue state. Safe. But a neighbor called my family mixed-race the day we arrived. The clerk at the local gas station was extremely helpful—always right behind me. And still, none of this really bothered me until Trayvon Martin died and a curtain came down on the country’s founding creed that all men were created equal. In the months after that boy lay bleeding in his hoodie, I felt distinctly “other.” When Donald Trump stood before a cheering crowd promising to rid the country of Muslims
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and Mexicans, I knew there was suddenly no distinction between me and someone here illegally. And then the Klan started recruiting an hour and 37 minutes from my house. What I didn’t know was why. Why, after Hitler, after Martin Luther King, after Trayvon Martin, in a blue, liberal, hippie-infested state like Oregon, anyone could believe, speak, think and act on racism in 2016. And then I thought, someone should ask them. I found a phone number for a KKK leader online. There’s a sluggish heartbeat of a pause between the beep and the breath. A huge gasp like an engine revving at the starting
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line, readying for the long, rounding laps between it and the checkered flag. “Are you tired of immigrants coming into our country?” His voicemail. It plays with the hum of a needle to vinyl. In my quest to find out why, I went back to the source and dusted off an old boogie man. He says his name is Will Quigg, and he’s the Grand Dragon, King Klegale of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He claims to head over a dozen states, including Oregon and he says the candy grams left in West Linn were his doing. They were part of a recruitment effort, like rush week before pledging begins. Internet sources say his real name is
William Hagen and 17 years ago he was released from prison. All he’ll say about his crime is that there was a black man who was hitting on his girlfriend. A onesided fight ensued. All he’ll say about his name is that it’s Will Quigg. “We are not supposed to mix,” Quigg says. It’s against God. “He said, ‘I will scatter you and garble your speech.’ He didn’t want us to mix. Mixing races is creating mongrels.” Mexicans, he calls them. Coloreds. The pejoratives flow with the practice of someone who’s been using them as long as they’ve been believing them and they leech out from Quigg’s scratched, smoke-filled voice. It builds and builds until it fills my head
and then retreats like a Marlboro drag blown out the car window. And just when I think the smoke clears and it’s my turn to speak, Quigg takes another long puff. “The Jews and the government are trying to mongrelize our heritage, our race. I mean they’re trying to make it seem that it is ok to race mix when in the bible it surely says multiple times, ‘You shall take a wife of your own nation.’” Since 1970, the number of mixedrace children has increased nearly tenfold, according to the latest Census data. It seems the “mongrealization” is in full effect and the statistics would lead me to believe that Quigg’s beliefs are singular and without roots in a fast-changing
America. Except across vast swaths of the country, and here in Oregon, that’s just not true. “The pop culture of Oregon, at least from the 1960s on, is that it’s kind of this liberal place. There’s hippies, there’s the Oregon Country Fair, there’s marijuana, and not that, that’s not true, but it’s obviously just one piece of what Oregon is,” said Kevin Hatfield, a UO professor of history with a focus on social and environmental history of the American West. I asked Hatfield why Quigg would suggest that Oregon was ripe for recruitment and that the Klan was “getting new members” in the state every day.
“I would submit that there is a pretty strong continuity in history of this kind of movement to construct a white utopia in Oregon that you can see reflected in many different ways,” Hatfield said. Segregation, exclusion and misogyny laws for one. A history full of Klansmen in prominent positions for another. The Southern Poverty Law Center, however, disagrees with Quigg’s recruitment numbers. “I will say this for the record; Will Quigg is utterly full of it,” said Mark Potock, a Senior Fellow at the SPLC, an organization with roots in the Civil Rights Movement of the ‘60s that now tracks hate groups nationwide. Last year, the center estimated that there
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are 190 active Klaverns nationwide, which is up drastically from the 72 KKK groups active just the year before. But Potock said those figures don’t tell the whole story. “The numbers make it seem like they grew much more than they have. We count groups and not people and so what happened was two large Klaverns disbanded and formed new groups,” he said. “But the numbers aren’t completely deceptive. The Klan did grow last year.” As Quigg winds down another longwinded answer to a question on why the Klan is still around, I consider telling him.
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My ego and evolution nearly demand I tell him that my mother, brother and I could outread, write and earn him. I think about it. Do I tell him that my father wasn’t “brainwashed by the Jews” into believing it was okay to love a Mexican? That my mother is one of the “border hoppers” that seduce white men? I think about it. For about three and one half seconds. But in searching for “why,” I found the why not. Why Quigg’s biblical justifications for the Klan are not so many degrees from the Oregon bakery owners who used biblical justifications to refuse making a wedding cake for a same
sex couple in 2013. Why there’s no sense in trying to understand why he believes that the Klan “has no hate in their hearts.” They, “only have love for their race.” Why some conversations about race will never find resolution and why, in the liberal blue state of Oregon, I can still be defined by a label slapped on me based on the color of my skin and my parents’ marriage. Because ignorance lacks reason and hate never needed one. I don’t tell him. Instead, I do my journalistic duty and ask if I can call him again with any questions. No problem. He’d be happy to help, he says. Happy.
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getrungum.com SPRING 2016 | FLUX | 75
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76 | FLUX | ISSUE 23
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ohnny Lake’s grandmother never made it passed the fourth grade. Education, though, was important and so while raising Lake on 135 acres, she made enough to send him to the fifth grade with rolls of quarters in his hand. Fifteen years later, he stood in a classroom at Laurel Elementary School in Junction City, Oregon and spoke about slavery. In the student’s eager faces, Lake found his calling. His mission is simple. Create safe spaces to discuss matters of race in a time when politically correct, fearbased rhetoric is so afraid of saying the wrong thing, it says nothing at all. And he’s not alone. “We don’t have the option of privilege of silence,” Donna Maxey says. She holds monthly discussions, like Lake, in community centers around Portland known as Race Talks with the direct purpose of cultivating conversations about race. If you come to one of her discussions, she says, you talk. It’s as simple as that. But talking race in America is anything but simple. In an August 2015 poll reported by the Pew Research Center, 59 percent of Americans said the country needs to continue making changes to achieve racial equality. Thirty-two percent said we had done enough and 50 percent said racism was a “big problem” in America. The conversations surrounding race reflect the
numbers—often two-sided, confusing, subjective and messy. It’s a concept 19-year-old student Natalia Leckey understands but is attempting to overcome by participating in Maxey’s Race Talks where, much like Lake’s conversations, participants are given a safe space to learn how to talk about race. Because they believe communication is the key to progress. “I try and make it a learning experience. I think that’s the only way you’re really going to have a positive affect on anyone,” she said. And learning how to have those positive affects, even with the lessons she learns at Race Talks, is a slow process according to Natalia. But she’s willing to try. “The lack of conversations about race is the biggest problem. The whole idea of, ‘Oh, I don’t see color,’ well that’s a lie. Nothing’s going to happen if you don’t do anything about it,” she said. “Start the discussion and move from there but you have to at least do step one.” It’s that first step, according to Lake, that’s the hardest. He always starts his conversations by asking participants to share their dreams, their fears, to talk about their families and friends. When the room begins to buzz with conversations, he asks them to stop. He invites people to join him in the middle of the room and places a hand on their shoulder.
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have those voices, but it gives people a free pass not to participate,” she said. While Lake and Maxey try to create safe spaces and Hanna and Franklin-Phipps doubt it’s possible, Regina Lawrence thinks there’s a compromise. As the Executive Director of the Turnbull Center in Portland, Lawrence conducts the master’s program in strategic communication and understands that quite is a “constant effort.” Not far from where Maxey holds her Race Talks and Natalia strives to absorb the lessons there, Lawrence thinks about race conversations too. And how to improve them. “Who can we draw in? Who’s not getting represented at this table? Who do we need to be contacting and drawing into this discussion?” She asked. It’s about inclusion for Lawrence. And while she subscribes to the same notion that fear is currently dictating our national discussion on race, she thinks the answer to that is in classrooms like Hanna’s. Like Franklin-Phipps. It’s in places like the safe rooms in the community centers Maxey lectures in and the workshops Lake conducts. “Where else in society do we get a chance to get a group of people that have different life experiences, and get them talking about a common topic on a regular basis? It’s phenomenal.”
minority conversation, these students often face a dilemma, she said. “In my experience, it’s the white students that are going to go after other white students harder and the students of color are typically more understanding,” she said. Adding, “it’s calling out versus calling in. White students think they can become validated by calling out other white students and showing how “not racist” they are and that can derail thing.” But defining who may and may not speak out in race discussions based on race may become more difficult in the future. Currently, Pew estimates 6.9 percent of the adult population in the United States would choose two or more races when identifying themselves. However, the study also notes that race is becoming fluid with three out of 10 adults that consider themselves mixed-race changing which race they most identify with throughout the years. For now though, many educators like Franklin-Phipps are noticing the racial divide in the conversations. Erin Hanna teaches a gender, media and diversity course at the University of Oregon and while she encourages all of her students to confront uncomfortable topics, it’s often the same students she hears from. “Generally, the people that want to participate and want to talk tend to be the same people. Which, is great to
“When you break down physical barriers, you’re going to break down the psychological and emotional boundaries. It’s easy, then you’re dealing with people,” he said. But what about dealing with students? Maxi and Lake’s techniques don’t always translate to an overcrowded lecture hall. Grad student and education professor at the University of Oregon, Asalia Franklin-Phipps teaches a course on how the current racial climate relates to students and the discussions we have in academia. “Discussion is a difficult thing to facilitate in a course that’s 10 weeks with a bunch of students that don’t know each other,” she said. The expedited timeframe and other obstacles force Franklin-Phipps to detour from the Maxey/Lake approach. She says that in order for real conversation to happen, participants can’t be afraid of speaking up for fear of being shouted down. “You have to offend people, that’s how you can know a different perspective, but they’re (students) so afraid of offending someone and being labeled a racist,” she said. As a woman of color, Franklin-Phipps says that, unfortunately she understands white students are put in that uncomfortable position more times than not. As the majority in a
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