portland in color | 012: jonny sanders

Untitled


On the Sunday before "Thanksgiving," it's important to acknowledge that this city exists on stolen land. The same is true nationwide, and in countless places beyond our country, but living in Portland today means we continue to witness this pattern of colonialism and displacement. 

This city was founded on theft and racism, and with the influx of gentrification we're seeing it further still. There are countless articles and discussions happening around this subject, but we ask Portland residents: if you've moved to here and/or you live in an area that was historically indigenous, black, or predominantly another marginalized group, what are you doing to give back to the community you now inhabit? What are you doing to justify the space you're taking up and the space you've taken to displace someone else?

This isn't to restrict where you live or what you call home, but be cognizant. It isn't enough to be a nice neighbor and maintain curb appeal. Give your money to the people, businesses, and communities you've welcomed yourself to. Understand the racial wealth gap that's allowed you be where you are and patronize the local businesses that are still standing despite everything else changing around them.

To that end, I'm excited to introduce this week's guest-- a musician and Portland native, Jonny Sanders. As Portland continues to change, I hope this city will proactively reach out to and support artists like Jonny who are still here, still taking up space, still thriving.

Untitled


Name: Jonny Sanders 

Pronouns: Jonny Cool Star Gazer 

Background: Egyptian/Native American, born and raised in Portland, Oregon. The youngest of 5 kids. Mom was a soul singer, and my father is a keyboardist. I started my music journey at the age of 20.

Untitled
Untitled


Medium of choice: Laptop and Keyboard, Microphone and Beat machine 

Karaoke jam: Too High by Stevie Wonder 

Tell us about one of your favorite Portland memories: My favorite Portland memory is when NE Portland was considered a black neighborhood. It was a time when it felt like a community and felt welcoming. There weren't a lot of apartments, people of color lived in houses. 

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled


Please share a time it was difficult living in Portland: This time is difficult to live in Portland, the cost of living is so high, it's hard to see so many people struggle with finding living space. Also, the roads are so full of cars, it makes the trees and I sick. 

How can Portland support you and/or your community? Portland can support me by supporting my art, keep communication open, spend less money on the Trail Blazers and Timbers, put that money into the art scene. My community is full of artists and healers, support their grind.

See more of Jonny's work on Instagram, Twitter, and www.jonnycool86.com

Portland in Color is a self-funded project. If you enjoyed this feature, please consider donating to keep the series going.

Untitled

portland in color | 011: soleil ho

Untitled


Today's feature is unique in that the portraits were taken over the course of a few days and not in Portland but in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. 

In the fall of 2016, I attended Feast Portland where I met a photographer and editor who boasted of the impoverished countries he visited and the photos he took that were "completely unposed." He described Senegal as "a cross between Jamaica and India" (whatever tf that means) and when I asked how he decided to visit these countries, he said he just went "wherever [he] felt like going."

As a photographer tired of the homogeny and classicism in food media yet still struggling to find work, I, like the mighty of my generation, turned to Facebook to vent. I was immediately validated by POC peers who pointed out this photographer's problematic white gaze, the "poverty porn," and white savior complex of visiting these countries under the guise of empathy but who instead, perpetuated poverty tourism by exploiting the images of locals (i.e. photos taken without context, consent, or compensation).

This is where I met Soleil, and I call tell you that our conversations after a year, two podcast episodes, and endless tweets have helped shape my consciousness as an activist today.

If you're not already listening to this critical conversation, Soleil is a cohost of Racist Sandwich, a podcast that discusses food as it intersects with race, class, and gender. Somehow, on top of posting biweekly episodes, she's also a chef and a writer. I would say that her pieces on Assimilation Food and "A Guide to Avoid Cultural Appropriation" are my favorite, but the truth is I love everything she does because she's consistently a voice of reflection and change.

Soleil only lived in Portland for a year (and has since moved to Puerto Vallarta to open Bonito Kitchen with her mother), but her impact and voice are still here. 

Untitled
Untitled


Name: Soleil Ho

Pronouns: she/her

Background: Vietnamese American, Brooklynite

Untitled
Untitled


Astrological signs: Virgo sun, Libra moon, Libra rising

Medium of choice: Food, writing, podcasting/audio

Karaoke jam: “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5

Untitled


Tell us about one of your favorite Portland memories: Probably the apex of my Portland life was performing at the YOUTHHOOD event at the Holocene in fall of 2016. I was terrified, and I didn’t know why anyone would ask me to do such a thing, because I have heaps of social anxiety. I puked on a tree just outside of the venue before I entered. I kept telling people, “I’m gonna die, this is gonna be awful, why am I doing this,” and pacing around the room in a frantic haze. When I couldn’t put it off any longer, I got up to the mic and told a story to the beautiful, diverse crowd about a time when I failed to be an advocate for myself, when I let someone else decide who I was. Having that opportunity—and hearing people echo my feelings and applaud my vulnerability—was an amazing feeling.

Untitled
Untitled


Please share a time it was difficult living in Portland: In order to afford to live in Portland, I worked a lot, in addition to pursuing my side projects. There was a period of time where I was working 60 hours a week managing two restaurants on top of doing the podcast biweekly and completing freelance writing assignments. I barely saw my husband and my roommates and I was so frustrated with my inability to have a social life, though I valued my time spent on the podcast because that was time that I truly felt was my own. I felt like I couldn’t cut back on any of that work when we had to pay rent, bills, and student loans—and we had to fucking eat.

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled


How did you stay inspired in Portland? I found people who understood me, validated me, and wanted to help me make the best work I could. And vice versa. I went on endless coffee dates and reached out to any and all folks who inspired me.

How can Portland support you and/or your community? For starters, check out the Racist Sandwich’s PoC food directory as a jumping off point toward being more intentional with the money you spend when you go out to eat. It’s a small step, but it does more to help close the racial wealth gap than going to BORC would.

Follow Soleil on Twitter or via Racist Sandwich on Facebook, Twitter, or racistsandwich.com. You can support her work by donating on Patreon or visiting her bombass restaurant Bonito Kitchen in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Listen to Celeste's cameos on the podcast here and here.

Portland in Color is a self-funded project. If you enjoyed this feature, please consider donating to keep the series going.

Untitled

portland in color | 010: mercedes orozco

Untitled


It's been a great week for connecting with likeminded publications. This past Tuesday, I spoke with Freelancers Union about balancing freelance and passion/social responsibility. On Friday, I got to drop in at Pacific Underground, a local radio show by and for Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs), talking about freelance life and of course, this series. Sometimes working in a predominantly digital sphere can seem isolating-- it's often difficult to know who reads and finds value with this medium.

After last month's Street Roots feature and this weekend's Pacific Underground cameo, I'd hope to be more intentional about connecting with likeminded people outside the digital medium. I don't know exactly what that looks like, but I'm putting it out there! A pop up gallery, a panel-- who knows? 

This desire to hold space and connect beyond the internet ties in eloquently with today's guest, the director of a local gallery that prioritizes work by marginalized artists/communities. In a town prone to a homogenous perspective (read: the white gaze), it's critical to know and support spaces like UNA Gallery, who centers their work around POC, queer, and femme voices.

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled


Name: Mercedes Orozco

Pronouns: she/they

Background: Born and raised in Mexico

Medium of choice: I value the conceptual value of art so much that I couldn't possibly single out a medium. But I personally tend to mix media by collaging with illustration and photography.

Untitled
Untitled


Karaoke jam: I keep it safe with screamy stuff like Violent Femmes, but have recently decided that next time, I'm going to do Smash Mouth's "Rock Star"

Tell us about one of your favorite Portland memories: Probably the very first fall season I experienced here. I am still in awe every day, even after 5 years, of the beauty that is the fall. But that very first one... wow. 

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled


Please share a time it was difficult living in Portland: It is often difficult living in Portland, unfortunately. I'm often drawn to seek out bigger cities with more diversity.

How do you stay inspired in Portland?: "An art a day keeps self-loathing away!"

How can Portland support you and/or your community?
By $upporting UNA Gallery and helping us stay open with fund$!

@UNAgalleryPDX on PayPal & GoFundMe, or $morozcob on Squarecash. Or by sharing this information with your rich friends or your boss.

UNA is currently hosting an exhibit celebrating Día De Muertx. For more information on upcoming exhibits, visit www.UNAgalleryPDX.com and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Portland in Color is a self-funded project. If you enjoyed this feature, please consider donating to keep the series going.

Untitled

portland in color | 009: carlos the rollerblader

Untitled


There were many factors to beginning this series— the lack of diversity and POC visibility in creative industries, the tokenization/racism in the little representation we do have, and ultimately, creating a space with agency to tell our own stories. But as I come up on four years in Portland, I remember that these goals and intentions were inspired by an even earlier, simpler sentiment: feeling alone and unseen in this town. 

I think most, if not all POC here experience this. Which is why today, it hits hard to remember that I began as such a lonely person here but now find myself surrounded by a community that feels limitless in its creativity, love, and fight for one another. These spaces are direct result of that isolation. They were born as a response to the overwhelming whiteness. And they continue to exist because our survival here depends on it.

Today's guest is an integral part of creating and maintaining these spaces. Not only do they consistently organize potlucks and community spaces, their presence and voice overflows beyond their own circles, breaching the whiteness responsible for these spaces in the first place. From managing a free advice hotline to hosting intersectional stand up comedy shows, Carlos the Rollerblader is here to keep the party going.

Untitled
Untitled


Name: it’s Carlos the Rollerblader to you, Big Daddy

Pronouns: they/them

Background: Black Queer Punk Painter Speaker Rollerblader Big Brother Marylander

Medium of choice: Ideally, oil painting or anything using my voice

Untitled
Untitled


Karaoke jam: "A Milli" by Lil Wayne & "Tear You Apart" by She Wants Revenge

Tell us about one of your favorite Portland memories: Something you should know about me is that I’m all about The Party. All of my favorite memories include friends, old & new. Many of favorite memories here involve dance floors, visits to the bar, loud music and late nights. Just as important are the groggy mornings-after, complete with big sunglasses, breakfasts from a kitchen not my own, retracing my steps & piecing my day together. Being a stand-up comic also brings me joy (sometimes) when the shows have great lineups where people gel, like when I perform with my partner-in-comedy-crime Jen Tam, on Dirty Angel Showcases or with Lez Stand Up. Give me good company and any night can become a favorite memory.

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled


Please share a time it was difficult living in Portland: Y’know, this time around is actually my second bout with Portland. The first didn’t go so well haha. I originally moved here in 2013 from Maryland with little knowledge about Portland— I came here on a lark, moving in with an internet friend whom I’d never met in person and her (now ex-)husband with basically no knowledge about the city. In those first two years, almost everything was hard. From dealing with the hasty move from city to city, to family struggles, to the city’s seemingly-accidental yet totally unapologetic whiteness, to the culture shocking differences between the DC area & Portland. It all hit me at once too. I remember having the hardest time trying to figure out just HOW to communicate with people here, it seemed impossible because our styles were/are so different.

I unexpectedly ended up going back to Maryland for 10 months to reset and recuperate before returning in 2016. Things became easier as I learned how to better navigate Portland’s culture, along with building a better network of mostly POC. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still hard! Just less so – it’s much easier now.

In this series, the sequel is better than the original.

Untitled
Untitled


How do you stay inspired in Portland? By surrounding myself here with people who fight, who laugh, who create, who sustain. My life now is close to an ideal by Portland standards; out of my inner network, I think I only now have three white friends. The rest are people of color. Artists, writers, comedians, photographers, tastemakers, dancers, DJs, educators, librarians, facilitators, implementers, etc. etc. etc. Being able to indulge in such a wealth of creatives has enriched my life almost to the point of nonchalance. Almost. It’s a catch 22! I’m often really insulated, in my friendships, from Portland’s whiteness but it’s that same force puts a fire under our asses to excel, create and break out in ways that is downright mind-boggling sometimes. We as individuals are remarkable, but the power of the networks that we’ve built here has not ceased to amaze me.

Untitled


How can Portland support you and/or your community? The general community trust aspect of Portland has gotten me a great many things and I’m very grateful for all the time, energy, money saved on kindred person-to-person exchanges. As long as that continues, I have a future here. Also, open up a bit and listen to one another. If there’s one thing that running the Free Advice Hotline has taught me, it's how closed off people have become from each other. Beyond that, financial support for/to myself and other queer, trans people of color is always appreciated. Especially from allies with (more) privilege. Thank you in advance.

Follow Carlos on Instagram and Facebook to see more work and info on upcoming comedy gigs!

Portland in Color is a self-funded project. If you enjoyed this feature, please consider donating to keep the series going.

Untitled

portland in color | 008: carrissa paige

carrissa paige


This week I'm really thinking about intention. Being wholehearted and relentless about the decisions we make, the collaborations we pursue, and work we put into the world. I'm so honored that Portland in Color was the cover feature of last week's Street Roots, and is now available to read online.

It's particularly significant that PIC's first media coverage was with this publication, because Street Roots' whole mission is to fight homelessness and poverty in the city. Its articles are only available in print for the first week, incentivizing readers to pay to pick up a print copy before making the material available online a week later. There's so much thoughtfulness and intention behind this publication― it's refreshing when we've grown accustom to media wrought with perfunctory or performative work.

Today's guest is equally wholehearted and intentional about the work they do― in every capacity.  They are both relentless yet vulnerable, putting themselves constantly at risk for the hope and insistence of a better future for their community. Please welcome poet and sex worker Carrissa Paige.

carrissa paige

Name: Carrissa Paige

Pronouns: they/them/your royal highness

Background: an overly outspoken non-binary/black/queer/polyam/chronically ill femme poet, health advocate, and sex worker

Medium of choice:  I write poetry and perform visual art through sex work online. Poetry is my ultimate love affair. It helps me through grief processing and allows me to connect with my actions while understanding their artistic implementations. I am passionate about writing about my experiences with kink, sexuality, and brutality. Somehow they all connect, and they all have been affected by the stereotypical Portland straight/cis/white male. Getting my words out and lashing forward with my sexuality is always a heavy conversation. I’m thankful my dedication to poetry and writing can help break that barrier.

carrissa paige
carrissa paige


Karaoke jam: Bodak Yellow, among many MANY others. One of my partners hosts a POC karaoke about once a month at VoiceBox so the list is always evolving. However, the way Cardi B has risen really inspires me to keep going. That song is for every person (read: all women/femmes) that has ever felt like all they could do was be their body and rise through trauma related to oversexualization and abuse. I never thought that empowering your own sexuality could lead to respect and profit. It’s not something they teach you about in the standardized public school system. Cardi’s ability to reclaim her own sexuality, make her money moves, and squash anyone who gets in her way (cough Taylor Swift cough) is my absolute favorite thing.

Tell us about one of your favorite Portland memories: My favorite memories of Portland pretty much all run together. I have found so much refuge in my community over the last few months, especially since the election. I was lucky enough to join a group of Portland creatives directly after Trump was named the next president. The group has taught me patience, confronting racism― even racism perpetuated by other people of color, allowed me access to a large number of friends, and shaped me as a person in general. My favorite memory of Portland will always be the community I’ve created around me.

carrissa paige
carrissa paige
carrissa paige


Please share a time it was difficult living in Portland: Living in Portland has been extremely cut throat for me. From getting punched outside of Holocene at a safe-space queer party to being asked to move out because of “reverse racism” to being constantly approached by men on the MAX― I’ve had my share of terrible experiences. 

During my apartment search, an older male full of white privilege literally accused me of having a credit score of under 500 when I inquired on an arbitrary form of credit check based on their housing association's rules. He had no basis for this, he didn’t exactly greet me or make me feel like I deserved to even share the same space with him. I felt really terrible about that entire interaction. That man felt the need to berate me before even checking the facts. It left me wondering if he treated those who looked like him in a more respectful way as he didn’t exactly greet me when I entered his for rent space to see if it was a proper fit, and when I had a single question, he was dismissive and inappropriate.

The racism in this city is so grossly and apparently real, and the majority white people here are too busy being allies instead of accomplices. They want to scream “woke” and wear pink hats, but do nothing to break up what is actually happening to people of color and at risk communities. The people in this town are so worried about making money in the booming market. It makes me incredibly sad to see that the city of Portland is incapable of cleaning up the housing crisis many are facing. This combined with infrastructure issues, rent increases, and systematic racism creates a very hostile space for people of color to navigate. 

carrissa paige


How do you stay inspired in Portland?  I stay inspired in Portland by going out often, smoking a lot of the devil’s lettuce and staying safe with pals, eating at the many delicious establishments Portland has to offer, and by connecting with friends online.

Overall, I try my best to stay out and aware of what’s happening in the city. I am easily one of those people that takes bad experiences and shares them. I think that being vulnerable to yourself and (your) community is incredibly important to staying inspired. A lot of the situations I find myself in seem to be spaces to learn and navigate systematic white supremacy and misogyny. Dismantling those oppressive forces is my number one goal, so allowing myself to be vulnerable and aware of the presence of these forces helps me write, contribute to spaces online, and protect myself and other femmes and people of color.

carrissa paige
carrissa1.jpg
carrissa paige
carrissa2.jpg

How can Portland support you and/or your community? Portland can support me and my community by being more active in creating long lasting relationships with queer, chronically ill and disabled, and black and brown people. I find that their are a lot of flaky folks plaguing this city. A heavy amount of passive aggressiveness, fetishization and tokenization of black, brown, and queer identities, and cultural appropriation is what Portland continuously reeks of. All of those things are terrible and should be combatted. As a chronically ill, busy as hell, black femme― it’s difficult to navigate this without the help of white hands. If you aren’t standing up every time, you are complacent. You don’t have to be, but you must be willing to be uncomfortable to combat these realities.

I’ve also become familiar with members of Portland communities willing to blacklist domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. I know that this isn’t specific to Portland, but I hate watching those I love struggle through outing and interacting with those who hurt us. I encourage those in Portland to hear survivors out instead of talking over us. There are so many resources that I am personally willing to share, but it takes establishing a real relationship. It cannot be beneficial to only one side.

Next, if you’re in a space to donate to me or other femmes of color and we have performed emotional and/or educational labor, donate! If you are in a space to speak up for sex workers, speak or forever hold your complacent peace.

Ultimately, it takes so much more than reading articles online of folks with stories adjacent to mine. If you aren’t appalled and in the streets walking with me/us every time we lose a black and/or transgendered person at the hands of a police officer or white terrorist, you aren’t for me or my community. If you are happily sitting in your high-rise office with extra money and not giving back to impoverished folks in this city, you are complacent in gentrification and upholding systematic racism, classism, sexism, and injustice. I would prefer Portland to put its money where its mouth is -- support the weirdness you beg to keep in the city and understand that people of color are people too. We are here and we are here to stay.

Follow Carrissa on Instagram or support them directly via Squarecash or Venmo. For safety, their sex work isn't posted but you can get in touch with Carrissa to learn more.

Portland in Color is a self-funded project. If you enjoyed this feature, please consider donating to keep the series going.

carrissa paige