By David Krogh
Portland has been identified by The Atlantic as “the whitest large city in the US.” US Census population information from 2020 places Portland’s white population at close to three quarters of the total, with a shrinking Black population (at about 5.9 percent) and a slightly higher Asian population (8.4 percent). There has also been a history of racism in Portland in terms of unequal treatment, gentrification, denial of property ownership, etc., some of which still exists today.
Co-authors of The Anti Racist Heart (A Self-Compassion and Activism Handbook), Dr. Roxy Manning and Sarah Peyton, are both trainers in nonviolent communication and wish to improve communication and understanding among all people. They wrote this book largely in support of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s concepts. The authors said, “Our audience is made up of people who are interested in a new take on racism and are looking for new tools to support antiracist work while illustrating how to have self-compassion in the process.”
This book, and a companion work by Dr. Manning (How to Have Anti Racist Conversations), introduce Dr. King’s concept of Beloved Community and a new term, “Global Majority.” Dr. Manning said, “To me, the Beloved Community is a compass in addressing racism and white supremacy. Drawing from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision, it’s not a utopian dream but an understanding of the world as a family interconnected by shared destinies. It’s a call for genuine dialogue and empathy, realizing our collective liberation is tied to every individual’s freedom.”
Global Majority, on the other hand, is a collective term that refers to people who are Black, Asian, Arab, Brown, multi-heritage, indigenous or otherwise racialized as ethnic minorities. The authors estimate that roughly 85 percent of the world’s population are part of the Global Majority, even though in Portland whites are a majority. Peyton said, “It’s so true that Portland, and Oregon as a whole, have a present day predominance of white folks, and a history of repression, sometimes even of violence against people of the Global Majority. But we are moving into a world that is becoming more and more diverse. The Global Majority population has more than doubled in Portland in the last 20 years. As we plan for the future, we need every voice to contribute.”
Dr. Manning indicated one reason she wanted to write this book was because, although many people are committed to the theories and principles of antiracism, they struggle with implementing them. Peyton added that she had watched and was concerned with “how many people I knew who were getting tired in the effort to take a stand against racism, and I thought that we all desperately needed self-compassion to be able to engage in antiracism in ways that were nourishing and connected people to their deepest values.”
This book, which is written by both a Black author and a white author, was crafted by the authors to respond to Global Majority members who are tired of the racism embedded in our institutions, “and to support white folks who are bewildered about how to help make the world a better place. Without this type of book and this type of thinking, the status quo will just be replicated, no matter how much migration and immigration happen.” In essence, the authors want to encourage something beyond integration and accommodation in line with Dr. King’s teachings.
Dr. King’s approach, according to Dr. Manning, “challenges binary concepts such as good vs. evil or right vs. wrong which are rooted in white supremacy culture. Instead, it moves us toward understanding our collective interdependence and shared human values.” The ultimate goal is to fulfill universal human needs. And Dr. King’s simple insight “enables us to articulate the harm we endure without vilifying others.”
The authors were also asked how this country could finally see equity among races/cultures. “We will need awareness, commitment, skills for clarity and self-compassion. We will need to be able to see the harm that is being done, and to inspire hope for positive change. Thank you for interviewing us, as this type of thoughtful questioning and education is of huge importance in awakening our world.”
Peyton is a Portland resident, a neuroscience educator and certified Nonviolent Communication trainer (sarahpeyton.com). Dr. Manning is a clinical psychologist and certified trainer and assessor for the Center for Nonviolent Communication (roxannemanning.com). She regularly leads workshops centered on nonviolent communication and social change.
The Antiracist Heart (A Self-Compassion and Activism Handbook) is published by Berrett-Koehler Publishers (antiracistconversations.com). The book, and others by these authors, are available to order online and at selected bookstores. The authors also plan on doing readings in Portland; visit bit.ly/RoxyBookTalkFeb19 for information.
Photo: authors Sarah Peyton and Dr. Roxy Manning.