Posted on September 7, 2023

I Left DC for Oregon. I’m Moving Back Due to Racism, Rampant Drug Use.

Chandlor Henderson, Insider, September 5, 2023

I lost my mother in September 2007, and my relationship with my family became strained. After eight years without her, I left Northeast Washington, DC, in 2015 and took a Greyhound bus to Eugene, Oregon.

At the time, my knowledge of Oregon and the West Coast was limited, but my life in DC had become challenging. The aggressive gentrification of the city and my precarious 20-year career in the restaurant industry were two of the reasons I decided to find someplace new.

At face value, it appears I’m embodying the “American dream,” but I plan to eventually return to DC.


I was drawn to Oregon, in part, because of the progressive laws regarding cannabis. I chose Eugene, two hours south of Portland, because it was more affordable than DC.


I thought that I’d be able to fit right in because I’d always thought of myself as a hippie. However, that was not the case. When I got here, I was overwhelmed by the lack of diversity and the prevalence of cultural appropriation.

One of the most glaring examples of appropriation can be found in the reggae scene. White artists, born and raised in Eugene, make good livings performing in fake Jamaican accents, and are held in high esteem amongst the community. I’ve pointed this out many times, but my thoughts aren’t considered.


When I arrived in Oregon, I experienced a serious culture shock. Oregon, in many ways, offered much of what I sought and desired. But the absence of diversity, particularly Black and African communities, continues to be a challenge.

The unrelenting stares and intrusive questioning made me feel unsafe and unwanted within the community. I’ve experienced racism and gaslighting almost daily since I arrived. One thing that really gets me is when old white men try to “teach” me Black history, as if I don’t already know it. I feel there’s a constant state of white paternalism here, which leaves me constantly looking for a Black space.

I’ve also had “friends” make racist jokes and gaslight me when I object. Many of the people whom I’ve encountered in Oregon ardently object to hearing about the prevalence of racism in their community.


While Oregon’s progressive stance on drug decriminalization is commendable, it has inadvertently spawned a disconcerting culture of drug use. {snip}


My involvement in the community, especially the Black community, has been deeply rewarding. And while Oregon has provided me with invaluable lessons, for which I am profoundly grateful, DC’s vibrant diversity calls me home. {snip}