Article by M.F.

Something happened in 2020 or 2021 that got your attention, and got you to our website. It could have been what caught my attention: the killing of Black persons by police in incidents that could have gone differently, could have gone better, without the death of anyone. It could be the various problems brought by Covid-19, or even the slow economic decline that you’ve noticed over the last few years, or it could be your personal reaction to the divisive politics of today. 
Members of the Bandon Inclusivity Group were impacted by the deaths of Black citizens in 2020, and you can see by our quotes on this website that we responded by demonstrating on the corner of 101 and 42S. And as you know, we have chosen to go further, to create this website, to create opportunities to learn more about why those deaths happened, and to lay a foundation for change. 
During this process we are learning that systemic racism is not a person or even a group of people. In the words of Ijeoma Oluo, author of “So You Want to Talk About Race”: “Systemic racism is… an economic, cultural and political system…. a collection of decisions we are making every day…. where we spend our money, how we vote, what we expect from our elected officials, what we deem as professional or unprofessional, valued or unvalued.”  

She goes on to say: "This collection of everyday decisions we make turns into a system of race. It upholds a system of race that in the end, even if we don't know why it is that we're participating in it, has a hefty payout for a very select few. And it is in their interest that we never stop and question what race actually is in this country and what racial oppression is in this country." (Excerpts from Ijeoma Oluo's Talks At Google)

Does this seem confounding? How is it that systemic racism can be affecting and diminishing the well-being of nearly everyone? 
Think of a pyramid scheme, in which the bottom rows are composed of the lower-wage earners, who for various reasons are caught in lifestyles that seem unable to improve, they are unable to purchase a home, to send their children to college, to maintain good healthcare. These days they have high levels of food insecurity. 
The upper rows of the pyramid are for the wealthy, who are benefitting from the very system that keeps the lower rows stuck in the lower rows. They prefer to not raise minimum wage, to not provide healthcare to workers (by keeping workers at a part-time status), because those business expenses mean less in the pocket of the owner / CEO.  In recent years, large businesses have chosen to relocate into rural areas, because the owners can purchase land, build their warehouses, and hire people at a lower wage. While this creates jobs, they don’t provide a sustainable lifestyle.

These issues often hit rural communities very hard, even when the majority of residents are not persons of color. What kinds of helpful tax rules and economic supports exist for rural small businesses? How are our small town school districts equipped to prepare students for college? What programs exist in our small rural towns to help people gain home-ownership? How, in our daily activities, do we support a change away from poverty? Can occupations that rely on seasonal work successfully support families? Can we make Bandon a town that welcomes diversity, and provides greater opportunities in business, housing, education and healthcare?

Learn more about systemic racism and how it affects all of us below. Here’s two links to hear Ijeoma Oluo, speaking on the Daily Show and to a Google audience. Also information on how to find her book “So You Want to Talk About Race”:

So You Want to Talk About Race Video 52 min.

On the Daily Show with Trevor Noah 9 min. 

Book available as a loan through the Bandon Public Library (Coastline Library System). Also available at Winter Books here in Bandon $16.99

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