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Delve Summer 2020: The Case for Oregon Reparations

August 6, 13 and 20th
6:00-8:00 p.m. (3 sessions)
online via Zoom

“The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most culturally-relevant examinations of America’s tradition of systematic economic exploitation, particularly of Blacks. Published in 2016, this Atlantic article, which veers into being a short book in length, looks at the foundational policies of the land: 400 years of slavery, decades of Jim Crow and separate but equal that have set the scene for the massive disparties found in the coutry today. The real human collateral of America’s plunder sets the scene for the question of Coates’ question: why hasn’t the country made a serious attempt into, at the very least, examining reparations.

We will pair this reading with Portland State University professor Dr. Karen Gibson’s cutting delve into the effects of racist policies from 1940-2000 systematic disinvestment in of Blacks in N/NE Portland following the Vanort floods, “Bleeding Albina: A History of Community Disinvestment”.

Finally, throughout the seminar we will use lyrics from select songs off of Pulitzer-prize winning rapper, Kendrick Lamar’s 2016 into Black life manifesto, “To Pimp a Butterfly”. Released at the height of a growing national uprisings, this album confronts America’s demons through raw first-person tales of race, legacy, money and heritage.

These works paired together will make for a conversation anchored in our city and state’s racist realities, while providing an artistic and literary springboard for readers to grapple with the Black America in our own backyard.


“The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Delve Access Program

We want Delve seminars to be accessible to everyone, regardless of income and background. We understand that our tuition structure can present obstacles for some people. We are happy to offer an Access Program which provides reduced tuition to qualifying participants.  Contact Susan Moore at susan@literary-arts.org if you would like to take this Delve at the Access Rate.

Donovan Smith

Donovan Smith is a leading award-winning writer, producer and multi-faceted creative serving the greater Portland community. He’s penned nearly 200 articles that have appeared in The Skanner, Oregonian, Travel Portland, Portland Observer, Oregon Humanities, Gresham Outlook, Portland Tribune, Street Roots and more.  His “Gentrification is WEIRD!” project, emerged organically from his clothing line Ignorant/Reflections which uses provocative images to push critical thought. Additionally, the Gentrification is WEIRD! project has evolved through the years from a t-shirt statement, into a leading multimedia platform pushing important conversations about Black culture, policies and place in Oregon. In collaboration with Laquida Landford, Community Cycling Center, Living Stages Theatre, Black Sun, and Vanport Mosaic he’s co-curated the semi-annual GiW bike ride, touring  the lost city of Vanport, and ties issues of race, blight, and housing into the states current stitching.  His co-produced 2016 short documentary on development in East County with Sika Stanton, “The Numbers” is often used throughout the city by government, schools, NGOs, community groups and others to converse about  strategies to mitigate cycles of gentrification and was screened at the Portland Airport and Hollywood Theatre.
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