White supremacy is unconscionable, and that is what compels me to protest. It’s an ugly term that brings about strong emotions and may have different meanings for people. Our heritage includes race-based slavery and, because of that, we have practices and systems that are biased against people of color.

This does not mean that white people do not experience discrimination. But, institutionally, there are areas of bias that need to be addressed. We certainly can disagree on the ways and seriousness of how our past influences the present, but we must not pretend it does not exist.

Peaceful protests in Pendleton are used to promote solidarity for Black lives, speak against white supremacy and race-based violence. When the county commissioners say our demonstrations have been disrespectful to the police department, I think there is a misunderstanding.

Our police department is an integral part of our community. They have shown their commitment to our care and safety for this cause through their presence at the rallies. What you see as dark days, I see as the turning point toward a renewed commitment of justice for all. I beg you to consider the worldwide nature of these demonstrations to be something to reflect on.

You are our leaders. Even if you have not seen racism or been directly affected by racial injustice I hope we can keep talking about and working toward a solution for all. Police protection and social programs both matter and there should be a way to support both.

"We as a community can listen, we can ask each other questions, and we can observe ourselves. Look for the 'blind spots' we may have that could be causing or allowing potential harm to others," the director of my International School shared with me recently. "We are surrounded by systems and ways of thinking that are putting people at risk, and which many of us may not be fully aware of. I hope that we can take the first step together as a community by saying we need to know and do more."

Let’s educate, let’s lead the process and get Umatilla County on the map for looking deeper on the issues of humanity.

Wishing you well, during this time of change and opportunity.

Cristin Childress


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