Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Reflections on PCC’s Whiteness History Month: ‘Black Girl in Suburbia’

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Whiteness History Month has been a point of contention to some in the community, but to others, the month-long event has been a place for reflection and sharing.

I found myself at an event on Friday, April 22, for a screening of the documentary “Black Girl in Suburbia.” The premise of the movie took a look at African American director Melissa Lowery who grew up in a Portland suburb. She discusses what it was like growing up in a city that is predominately white and juxtaposes her story with her two young daughters who she is raising outside of Portland proper.

Lowery’s candid presentation made me reflect on my own childhood. I was also raised in a predominately white neighborhood and never fully understood the micro aggressions that were exhibited by my fellow classmates and neighbors. I ignored them and kept my thoughts to myself, feeling unsafe to talk about them with my white friends.

Lowery explained that one of the reasons she made the movie was because there wasn’t one she could relate to as an African American woman that portrayed her story and I found myself agreeing with her and applauding her film for finding a voice for those who had not been heard before.

The screening ended with a lively conversation that made me feel like the people in the room understood our situation and that I was not alone. The event went 30 minutes past the scheduled time and when I left, there was still a large group talking outside of the classroom left. The camaraderie and the connection that many of the African American women made with each other in the classroom made me feel good because we had all found our “people” and together we were a community.

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