If you’ve been holding your breath waiting on reparations, it may be time to head to Oregon. Activists in Portland are throwing a Reparations Happy Hour where black attendees get $10 in cash as reparations, funded mainly by white donors.
The ongoing event, which just kicked off its inaugural gathering this week, is the brainchild of social justice organizer Cameron Whitten, who started the initiative through his new group Brown Hope.
“It’s exactly what it sounds like,” Whitten says. “What I want to do is end the cycle of exploitation. For black, brown, indigenous people you face so many barriers, whether it’s tokenization or straight-up poverty.”
Whitten has no qualms about cashing in on white guilt and says plenty of white people have already donated and signed up to be monthly donors. He’s even gotten some generous donations from black people, who believe in his vision and feel they want to give back as well.
“I felt so good. That was my best part of the night, just giving out that money,” Whitten said. “I feel like Oprah—like, f*ck I’m Portland’s Oprah right now. And I want to give more than $10.”
Whitten was recently fired from Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement and is planning to file a lawsuit because he believes racism played a hand in his dismissal.
“In Portland in general, when they say ‘people of color’ they mean light-skin, white-passing Asian and Latino,” he explains. “Very often we don’t see black people in charge of things. And we see a lot of anti-blackness.”
He is hoping that through programs like his Reparations Happy Hour he can help black people in his community find a safe haven in the their overwhelmingly white city.
“This is a hostile environment,” he says, noting that’s why so many of his Black friends have left the area altogether. “They don’t die physically but they leave Portland because they’re not getting what they need to nourish their spirit here.”
If you want to know more about the Reparations Happy Hour or wish to make a donation, you can do so here.