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Josie Stanfield is pictured at Bend City Hall. Stanfield wrote a Black Lives Matter resolution and submitted it to the Bend City Council in fall 2020. Through a miscommunication, Stanfield was left out of the editing process, after which the proclamation was released last week.

A Black History Month proclamation made by the Bend City Council has upset some people of color in Central Oregon, including the author of the proclamation, who says the council changed it so much the original message of the document was lost.

Last week, the City Council read a proclamation for Black History Month that outlined racist practices in Oregon’s history and called on the people of Bend to join the council “in honoring Black History Month, learning about the history of Black people in Oregon, and combating racism and white supremacy.”

But Josie Stanfield, the leader of the group Central Oregon Diversity Project and original author of the proclamation, was stunned to learn how the proclamation did not resemble what she submitted to the city months prior.

The original submission was a Black Lives Matter resolution, Stanfield said. It was written in a way to focus around Bend specifically, and to call on the Bend City Council to have a lifetime commitment to stand up for Black lives.

Stanfield was inspired to write the proclamation after Donald Trump supporters and racial justice activists clashed on Oct. 3 in Bend, an event that came on the heels of a summer full of local and nationwide protests against racial injustice after the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by Minneapolis police. His death brought much higher visibility and awareness to the inequities Black, Indigenous and people of color face.

Shortly after the event, Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz gave what Stanfield considers an inadequate statement, so she decided to write something for the whole city to acknowledge Black lives matter.

But it ended up just being focused more on history instead, Stanfield said.

“You can say all day Black lives matter … but if you are actively silencing and taking the work of Black women, do you really mean it?” Stanfield said Friday.

The altered proclamation drove Luke Richter, the leader of the activist group Central Oregon Peacekeepers, to announce his run for mayor next year, according to Richter’s Facebook page.

Kerstin Arias, a former leader of the diversity project, characterized the changes as a “watered down” version of what Stanfield wrote. Instead of standing with Black Bend residents, the city created a history forum, she said.

“That’s not what we asked you. That’s not what you were supposed to be held accountable for. You were supposed to be held accountable for actually representing the BIPOC and the Black people in this community that has been failed for many years,” Arias said, using an acronym for Black, Indigenous and people of color. “It is hurtful to be played, in a sense. For still not being seen as enough and still not being seen as we matter.”

On Monday, Councilor Gena Goodman-Campbell, who edited the proclamation into the version that was read last week, said the issues surrounding the document are a product of unfortunate miscommunication.

After receiving Stanfield’s proclamation in the fall, Goodman-Campbell said the plan was to present it sometime in January. But the council schedule got full, and it was moved to February, a month that Goodman-Campbell realized was Black History Month.

So Goodman-Campbell proposed to Stanfield to change it to be a more educational piece about Black history. Emails obtained by The Bulletin show Stanfield calling the idea “wonderful,” saying that her document was a framework from which to work.

But when Goodman-Campbell sent the edited copy to Stanfield, she never received it. Due to some internal conflict within the Central Oregon Diversity Project group, Stanfield said she was locked out of her group’s email account the days before the proclamation was read.

Goodman-Campbell said she didn’t realize she wasn’t receiving emails, and didn’t have Stanfield’s phone number to call, though she recognized she could have found someone to try to call Stanfield for her. She felt bad that Stanfield was excluded from the editing process and attending the meeting at which it was read.

“It wasn’t my intention in the editing process to change it so drastically so she wouldn’t see the main ideas she wanted conveyed,” Goodman-Campbell said.

She regrets changing the title of the proclamation from her original edit, which read “A resolution honoring Black History Month and declaring that Black Lives Matter in Bend, Oregon,” to just “Honoring Black History Month”. Goodman-Campbell said she only changed it to help fit words on a page and to make the heading make grammatical sense.

“I should have left it in the title and that was my mistake,” Goodman-Campbell said.

Goodman-Campbell said she thought it was important to include history about Oregon’s previous racist policies and laws, such as laws preventing Black people from owning real estate or voting, to provide context to white people who likely weren’t taught this history in school.

“But that’s what I thought was important,” said Goodman-Campbell, who is white. “I do feel badly that I missed what they felt was important in this. I definitely want to keep working with them to make sure we get it right next time.”

Both Goodman-Campbell and Councilor Megan Perkins, who was involved in initial discussions about the proclamation, said there were lessons learned about the situation, and emphasized the importance of committing to action, not just words, to make Bend a more equitable place.

“This is a prime example of … the intention was good but the impact was harmful to members of the community that this proclamation was intended to support,” Perkins said Tuesday. “The best thing we can do now is show our commitment by action, rather than continuing to talk about proclamations.”

Reporter: 541-633-2160,

bvisser@bendbulletin.com

(10) comments

COCContheROCK

As a person of color, I’ve witnessed that same pose and expression at many a family reunion, minus the fur (faux or otherwise). I’ve long respected the hard-scrabble lifestyle and traditional work ethic exhibited by so many Prineville residents, and it pains me to see the Les Schwab legacy overshadowed by a nasty community agitator with an Anglo-Saxon surname who adds little to the conversation but divisiveness couched as diversity. Skittish, I denounce Black Supremacy and will light a candle this Juneteenth in remembrance of Kwanzaa - and in the hope for world peace.

Skittish

It should be easy for the majority of people to denounce racism and prejudice in all forms. Not only is racism and prejudice destructive of the subjects, but also indicates predatory and weak individuals by those who are practitioners, eg, the highly biased author of the history statement. Anyone who is competent, confident, fair and competitive will recognize what being racist really implies about those individuals, including the "white allys" on the Bend City Council. Just because someone has similar skin as I do, doesn't mean we are on the same team. Conversely, those who "don't look like me", are some of the best people I know.

COCContheROCK

Besides the fact that I love alliteration, I must acknowledge that one who correctly uses “conversely” in a sentence is indeed a scholar. Well done.

ReimagineBend

This is a serious issue and discussion that we need to continue having in our community. However, I don't think an email snafu is worthy of front page news. Maybe instead report on the substance of the proposed and modified statement so we can have a productive dialogue?

Gary Mendoza

Spot on; once again the Bend Bulletin shows poor editorial judgment to promote racial division.

Goodman-Campbell made a clearly good faith effort to solicit Ms. Stanfield’s perspective. Because Ms. Stanfield has problems with her own organization, Goodman-Campbell gets accused of marginalizing Ms. Stanfield’s concerns.

For the perpetually aggrieved, no good deed goes unpunished.

kindergentlerbend

It does sound like an honest failure in communication. Since this will go down in city history as one of our founding documents for the new era, let's revise it to more reflect its original intent.

Janus81

This woman was not "the author" of a statement issued by the city council.

She DRAFTED it. She did not issue it. The Council did and he suggestion of language gives her no right to control what others say.

Long ago I was a speechwriter for a powerful official in California. I drafted the words,. but he spoke them, issued them. I had no "ownership" of my draft any more than this woman does of her's.

Thom

Liberal pc on full display from the same people who block busses and say nothing while liberal groups loot and burn cities. Go figure.

Skittish

Dear BiPoC,

I am a cis-gendered, straight, Euro-colonial nonfemale.

Please forgive me for my white complicitness. I pledge to do the work and be a better person. I no longer want to live in a zero sum world where I do better because of my whiteness and you do worse because of your blackness. We have been failing you for too long - how will you ever live life to the fullest when white people are ignoring your needs and wants. I did not realize that I should be looking at everything through the lens of racism. I will lower myself in the hierachy of power so you may rise. Whenever I commit a microaggression or even a micro-microaggression, I will apologize profusely and self flagellate for the humiliation it will bring. I will understand and support your macroaggressions, no matter the financial cost and lives ruined - you need to know and feel like your oppression has been heard. The pain and suffering prove I care about you. I now fully accept responsibility for my failures and behavior.

Your friend and white Jesus - amen and awoman,

Skittish

PS - please acknowledge that all forms of racism are wrong and clearly denounce black supremacy so I can be your white ally.

PSS - be careful of those whites who falsely profess Black Lives Matter - sometimes they have ulterior, selfish, white motives to capitalize on your blackness: victimhood can be quite powerful. You need to have a special test for them to put their words into objective action: have them ask for permission to get on the canoe/boat/ship etc. publicly.

crispb

Give it a rest man

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