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Sat Oct 31, 2020, 06:38 PM

We Left The UK For Portland, Oregon Expecting A Liberal Dream; That Wasn't The Reality

'We left the UK for Portland expecting a liberal dream. That wasn’t the reality. 5 years ago, Candice Pires and her family moved to the ‘liberal, laid-back’ US city of Portland. Would the shockwaves of 2020 spell the end of their lives there? The Guardian, Oct. 31, 2020. - Excerpts, Ed:

It was Labor Day. We were having a barbecue in our back garden when gale-force winds started out of nowhere. As we scrambled to hold down plates and glasses, our neighbour’s horse chestnut trees swayed menacingly, their leaves swirling around us. In the next hour, smoke filled the air and the sky changed from bright blue to dirty grey. We moved everything inside and shut up the house. Soon after, the power went. We had no idea what was happening: rumours started online that protestors – some said Antifa, some said Proud Boys – were starting fires on the outskirts of the city.

We soon learned the truth: a “rare wind event” had caused wildfires to spread rapidly across Oregon, including to forests south of Portland. As the week progressed, the fires and smoke intensified and people were evacuated from neighbouring towns. Portlanders now had 3 reasons to wear a mask: coronavirus, police teargas and deadly smoke. Climate change was suddenly tangible, and it made our already small pandemic-lives contract further. Within 5 days, Portland had the most polluted air in the world, according to the air quality index. Our numbers exceeded the standardised scale. We were told to continue to stay indoors.

Five years ago, when we dreamed up our relocation from London to Portland, it went something like this: we’d land in the city where my husband’s mother lives, and which we knew to be a liberal, laid-back place, full of quirky, outdoorsy people (the Patagonia sort, not hunting). Whenever Portland featured on TV, it was mostly being sent up for its progressive earnestness, aided by the comedy series Portlandia, which skewered the city’s hipster tendencies..Our plan was to get a campervan and drive up and down the west coast under limitless blue skies. Obama was president and Oregon had just legalised cannabis. Where was the hitch?

We moved in August 2015, and some of the city lived up to the stereotypes. There were adverts for yoga with goats and yoga with weed, the popular 24-hr Voodoo Doughnut store..But there was a lot I didn’t know about the city- and living in America, too. The first surprise was the lack of non-white people. I later discovered that the 2010 census found Portland to be the whitest big city in the US. When our daughter started daycare, she came home and said she didn’t like her brown skin; she wanted to be white like the other kids. She was three. I felt like a fool for moving her out of a city where she would have been surrounded by people who look like her. Living in Portland was also the first time I felt noticed for being in a mixed-race marriage.

In rural Oregon, where you now regularly see Trump signs and bumper stickers, it’s become an unsaid agreement between my husband and I that I get out of the car as little as possible..I was horrified but not surprised when, during the fires, armed vigilantes set up “checkpoints” in small towns – claiming they were worried about “antifa looting”...


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Reply We Left The UK For Portland, Oregon Expecting A Liberal Dream; That Wasn't The Reality (Original post)
appalachiablue Oct 2020 OP
Thekaspervote Oct 2020 #1
appalachiablue Oct 2020 #2
area51 Oct 2020 #3
appalachiablue Oct 2020 #4

Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Sat Oct 31, 2020, 06:43 PM

1. One wouldn't think so, but Portland has a very racist history!

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Response to Thekaspervote (Reply #1)

Sat Oct 31, 2020, 06:51 PM

2. In the 80s and 90s I knew people of color who were

reluctant to attend work conferences in Oregon, PWN. I wondered about that but they knew more than I did at the time.

Also, this family moved at a very difficult time, during the Obama admin., all the postive media hype about the city and before the current white supremacist uprisings and political turmoil of the last 4 years.

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Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Sat Oct 31, 2020, 09:10 PM

3. I can't imagine leaving a 1st world country where healthcare is a basic right,

and moving here where healthcare is a luxury.

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Response to area51 (Reply #3)

Sat Oct 31, 2020, 09:18 PM

4. The writer found out about US 'heath care' and is now

back in London. Good thing, the Portland move was a challenging experience and a marriage stressor to day the least.

>"I decided I needed to leave over the election period. The paralysing fear of the unknown outcome became too much, in a country I can’t even vote in. I am in London now, quarantining in my old bedroom in my parents’ attic. I usually regress to teenage ways when I stay here, but this time I feel I am unfurling. We’re spending our days doing online school, and for the first time since the pandemic began, I’m able to give over enough of my brain to help my daughter learn.

Of course, the UK has its own problems, too. But I am physically and mentally relieved to be distanced from white supremacists carrying guns on the streets, the threat of pandemic-related medical debt, and the specific cruelty of the Trump administration. We have a return ticket booked; we just have to decide if we’ll use it."
"I write all of this as a brown person and a recent transplant. Racism for black people in Portland is far more pervasive and damaging. It’s visible in housing policy, police brutality and who gets to work where. In 1859, when Oregon joined the union, it was the only state to explicitly ban all black people living there.

That legacy of racism has cast a long shadow. As recently as the 1990s, lenders in the state engaged in redlining (not giving people loans and mortgages because of where they live – which mainly affected the city’s small black population). There continues to be de facto racial segregation in schools. But, until this summer, Portland’s white population didn’t talk about it much."

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