Seeing Past Portland’s Whiteness / Hyperallergic

Still from Julie Perini’s video “The White Lady Diaries” (2013) (image via julieperini.org)

Still from Julie Perini’s video “The White Lady Diaries” (2013) (image via julieperini.org)

LOS ANGELES — In journalism, Betteridge’s law of headlines states that any headline ending in a question mark can be answered with the word “no.” Such is also the case for the Safe & Sound?, a video project by Portland-based artists, activists, and community organizers Julie Perini, Jodi Darby, Erin Yanke, Amelia Cates, and Christopher Hamann. The group’s one-hour documentary considers the relationship between police brutality and the criminal justice system in Portland, particularly as it impacts people who are not white, affluent, gender-conforming, or with a home. It’s one of two projects by Perini that investigate white privilege and critical race theory by turning the camera on whiteness in all of America, not just Portland.

I didn’t mean for my trip to Portland to have such a focus on race. My initial Facebook status posts consisted of quips like, “Everyone is so attractive in Portland. How is this possible?” But upon making the observation, I quickly received responses from friends both in-person and online about the city’s overwhelming whiteness. Taken aback at first, I decided to pay close attention to how many non-white people I saw. As someone who reads as white, although I didn’t think of myself that way until recently — my father is an immigrant from Turkey and my mother is Jewish, so while I’m not “white” ethnically, I am understood as such by most people I encounter — it’s normal for me to coast on by in most situations without being questioned, hassled, harassed, or even noticed. This is one of the points that Safe & Sound? drives home.

Read the full story on Hyperallergic: http://hyperallergic.com/114595/seeing-past-portlands-whiteness/