Erica Morrison, OPB, October 18, 2018
In Portland, Cameron Whitten leads the local racial social justice nonprofit Brown Hope. Earlier this year, he drew national attention for the organization’s unique approach to redistributing wealth to people of color: the Reparations Power Hour.
The event takes place every month or so with the goal of helping people of color in not-so diverse Portland gather, organize and feel part of a larger community.
“This event is for y’all to claim the space and claim the money and claim the agency,” Whitten told the crowd at the August gathering.
The event is paid for by white donors and each attendee gets $10 just for showing up and being a person of color. Hence, the reparation.
“I’m about shifting civic capital,” Whitten said. “And so what I said was, ‘White folks, we’re already putting in our effort. Where’s your effort? Will you donate to make sure that this can happen monthly? We put up a donation page, and we said, ‘Hey, we’re giving $10 to every black, brown, indigenous person who shows up because they’re putting work in, and they are building that community that you say you so desperately want in Portland.”
The formal organizing portion of the event happens during the 10-minute “stir fry.” It’s a 10-minute period for announcements for organizations, individuals and events.
At the August power hour, the stir-fry leaned political — it included a declaration of support for the Portland Clean Energy Fund ballot measure and promotion for a support group for families who have lost loved ones to police shootings.
Organizers say they call this a “power hour” — rather than a “happy hour” — because of the information that is shared and the community they’re trying to build and empower.