Lake Oswego group tackles issues with racism following incident at junior high

Nearly 100 people attended a Respond to Racism meeting in Lake Oswego on Monday, March 5, 2018. (KATU Photo)

Gathered inside a meeting room of a Lake Oswego community church Monday, people came together to discuss a very difficult issue facing their community: racism.

More people have been attending the meetings organized by the group, Respond to Racism. after an incident at Lake Oswego Junior High School. A student's mother told KATU News her son's classmates wrote a note calling him a racial slur. Days later, students organized a walkout in protest of racism, discrimination and bullying.

Respond to Racism started in July 2017, following a racist incident in Lake Oswego. The group's been hosting monthly meetings to tackle issues of race in education, housing and law enforcement. At a late February meeting, over a hundred people showed up. At Monday's meeting 93 people signed in.

"It's not a school problem, it's a community problem, and it takes all of us to do it," said Willie Poinsette, a leader in the group.

The organization's goals are to educate people about the history of racism in the city and how to respond to overt, institutional, and systemic forms of racism.

James and Pat Walker have lived in Lake Oswego for 42 years. Pat Walker said her children dealt with racism in school.

"Not much has changed. We have to work on it. There's still a lot of work to be done." Pat Walker said.

She said she hopes in five years her grandchildren won't have to deal with the same thing.

"I would hope that I have some grandchildren that could attend school in Lake Oswego and live here without hearing all this and having to go through what our boys went through," she said.

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