About Us . . .
To educate and empower Lake Oswego residents and institutions with the tools to combat racism in all its forms and make LO — and Oregon — a better place to live for residents of all races and ethnicities.
Who We Are
Respond to Racism is a neighborhood effort to interrupt racism in Lake Oswego, Oregon. We hold monthly meetings to give concerned citizens the opportunity to come together and discuss how to respond to racism in all its forms—overt, institutional, and systemic.
Our work rests on three legs:
Learning—about the history of racism and how it continues to operate in the present.
Dialogue—sharing our stories and learning how to have difficult conversations with neighbors.
Action—community organizing and directly affecting policy and behavior change.
No matter where you fall on this spectrum, we invite you to get involved and be part of making LO the town we want it to be.
A Little History . . .
Respond to Racism formed in the summer of 2017 following a racist incident involving an off-duty Black police officer in Lake Oswego. Detective Nathan Sheppard told a story on his blog of a road rage dispute with a white man who called him a nigger, peppered him with familiar euphemisms such as, “You don’t look educated,” and questioned how he could live in LO because of his skin color. Several local news outlets picked up the story, which eventually sparked a debate on the social media network Nextdoor about the existence of racism in LO.
Inspired by those debates, resident Liberty Weaver reached out to others in the Nextdoor group to continue the conversation in person. Willie Poinsette, a longtime LO resident, was the only person to respond. The two met, shared their stories, talked about their experiences organizing around racism, and professed a mutual desire to affect change in the town. From there, they reached out to others and organized the first Respond to Racism meeting at Lake Oswego United Church of Christ on July 10, 2017.
The group now meets monthly, packing the LO UCC dining hall and bringing concerned citizens together with members of local government, news media, and the LO school district, among others, to tackle overt and systemic racism in the town.
The group has received growing attention both inside and outside LO, including the Pamplin Media Group naming Respond to Racism as one of the 10 most important stories to come out of LO in 2017.