A Message to PFLAG Portland from Patt Bekken, Board President

Dear PFLAG Portland Family,

Without a doubt, by now everyone reading this has watched in some way, and maybe has even participated in, the protests that began March 26th in Minneapolis, in Portland on May 28th, then spread across the country and the world in response to the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. However, the callous circumstances in which Mr. Floyd was murdered is clearly the result of the chronic illness of racism that is pervasive not only in law enforcement but our entire criminal justice system, as well as social systems influencing education, healthcare, employment and housing.

These demonstrations are bringing direct and irrefutable attention to police brutality and consequently the domino-effect when people feel they are not safe in their homes and communities, because the perpetrators are the ones who are supposed to keep them safe.

The impetus for the founding of PFLAG was a mother also walking in protest during a 1972 march against police brutality and bigotry. Almost 50 years later our mission remains relevant; we stand and raise our voices in support of one another, we educate ourselves and our communities to speak up as advocates not only for the Queer community, their families and allies, but in solidarity with those who are being marginalized, abused and killed because of their race. We have now found ourselves living in an unprecedented time in history when an extraordinary number of Americans of all races and generations are rising up in grief and anger to protest.

As you will read below PFLAG National is part of a growing number of LGBTQ organizations have signed on to a joint Letter of Committment.

The PFLAG Portland Board of Directors has unanimously agreed to also join this list of organizations stating unequivocally that we stand with the Black Community and that Black Lives Matter.

We are asking you as a member of the PFLAG community to take the three objectives of PFLAG’s mission of support, education and advocacy to the next level with deliberate actions:
1. Begin by educating yourself about the pedagogy of racism in our country and how it has affected each and every one of us. - start with Jane Elliott (https://janeelliott.com/) . Download Victoria Alexander's booklist.
2. Learn about the historical perspectives of the people who were already on this land we are living on and the people who were forcibly brought here - consider reading “A People’s History of the United States”, by Howard Zinn.
3. Seek out and purposely expose yourself to the difficult and challenging conversations about racial bias against the Black Community. And when you find those conversations discipline your mind to not start comparing your own personal experiences of hurt with what our Black community members are willing and needing to share. Listen more deeply. Be willing to be uncomfortable.
4. If you identify as white please seek out your white family and friends and keep the conversation going. Take risks.
5. Commit to change by supporting Black leadership, particularly youth and young adults, who are the largest number of protestors and who are our future leaders. Stand next to, or better yet, behind these individuals. And when you have the microphone be conscious of who you pass it to.
6. Donate your time and/or money to organizations and committees whose objectives are to begin the dismantling of the systems not properly serving communities of color. Be a part of creating the new paradigm.
7. Seek out and support Black businesses. Yelp now has a search attribute giving businesses a way to identify themselves as Black-owned. Spend your money strategically and generously.
8. Speak out against racism, especially if it’s a family member or friend. Never be a “safe space” for bigotry by being silent.
9. Research your local leaders and determine where they stand on the issues at hand. Call your representatives and ask them to seek justice for the murders of Black citizens.
10. Vote accordingly.

Allyship saves lives. Through our commitment to being allies and family I believe we have the opportunity to profoundly influence this nation and the world.

In solidarity and with respect,

Patt Bekken
President, PFLAG Portland Board of Directors