Author's Note: Since posting this video, one of the panelists, Pharoah Bolding, reached out to us to let us know that the fairly rosy picture I painted of the event only told a small part of the story. In reality, the panelists dealt with a deluge of micro-aggressions and general unwelcoming, anti-POC behavior during their time in LO. Bolding details some of these incidents in a blog post that is a MUST READ. For my part, I would like to apologize to Bolding and the other panelists for helping to reinforce the idea that because groups like RtR exist, that LO doesn't still have lots of urgent work to do when it comes to anti-racism. Hopefully this incident can be a humbling reminder that we need to do a better job of centering the needs of marginalized people and that self-examination, no matter how painful, is a requirement of doing this work.
I'm a strong believer in the idea that if you really want to be an effective white ally, you need to make a point to listen to people of color's experiences on platforms where they get to dictate the tone of the conversation. If you say you want to advocate for us but you can't make space for our authentic, sometimes messy selves, then how serious are you really?
With that in mind, I'd like to applaud the Lakewood Center for the Arts and all the organizers behind the 2019 Lake Oswego Festival for the Arts for putting on a great weekend of events celebrating diverse artists and voices that don't often get space or recognition in this town. In particular, I'd like to highlight a panel they hosted titled "Comics Activism" that featured a group of BIPOC creatives from all different sectors of the comics industry, including Brian Parker, Ben Passmore, Clara Emiliana, Nicole Robinson, Pharoah Bolding, and Sean Wynn. These opportunities for people in LO to engage with these creatives, not just to hear their racism horror stories, but to also get exposed to all the great work they're doing, is incredibly important. The arts are one of the most powerful tools for connecting us and promoting the work of people of color in places where it doesn't often get promoted is essential to those efforts. Check out the full video of the panel below: