WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT DIVERSITY?

Mayor Charlie Hales. Photograph: Steve MorganEarlier this summer, articles, comments and compliments abounded after Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Chief Police Mike Reese attended a race diversity conference for white men in Welches, Ore., that cost an estimated $56,000.

There are more than two sides to this coin.

Critics complain that $56,000 of taxpayers’ money was spent to have a select group of white men meet for a few days in a remote location to hear and feel the message of being comfortable with diversity.

On the other side of the coin, some people of color were in an uproar as to why the conference only included white men.

Let’s face facts: Portland and Oregon are among the “whitest” cities and states on the West Coast. It’s nothing to be ashamed about nor anythiing to brag about. The secret here is how both public- and private-sector leadership know how to be inclusive rather than exclusive.

The demographics of Portland and the entire state is changing, even as I am writing this article. This is not your grandfather’s Oregon anymore. You can’t use the same methods in today’s game.

Mayor Hales, Chief Reese and others are on their first steps in a journey that will help make our entire community better. Read More 

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African American Chamber is a private for profit organization that is affiliated with the African American Chamber of Commerce | O. Matthew Thomas, President