Brown Hope was born on March 16th, 2018 from a deep sense of urgency to overcome the vicious cycle of wounding caused by historical and ongoing racial trauma.
Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities have survived centuries of racial trauma, which has passed emotional, psychological, and material injuries from generation to generation. The history of racism in Oregon is long and troubling. Originally founded to be a Whites-only utopia, some of the most devastating violations of humanity included state exclusion laws, tribal genocide and termination acts, internment, and and mass displacement. We are still seeing the ripples of how Oregon’s racist past impacts our communities to this day. Brown Hope embodies the philosophy of trauma informed activism, launching initiatives that inspire hope, collective healing, and the grassroots momentum needed to dismantle systems that perpetuate harm against our communities.
Photo from 2018 launch party for Brown Hope.
Our organizational priorities were shaped directly from feedback received from Black, Brown, and Indigenous Portlanders. In a 2018 survey conducted during our strategic formation, respondents shared that they yearned for solidarity, community, restoration, healing spaces, and collective activities. These conversations directly influenced our current organizing strategies to create connection with Black, Brown, and Indigenous leaders through the heart, mind, and voice.
Brown Hope’s inaugural program, Reparations Happy Hour, was launched in May 2018 as an intentional space for Black, Brown, and Indigenous Portlanders to build community and heal from the impacts of racism. 40 community members attended the first event, and Brown Hope was thrust into the public spotlight by media outlets like the New York Times. Our second program, Blackstreet Bakery, was launched in July 2018 as an economic empowerment program that strives to reverse displacement by reclaiming commercial space for Black Portlanders in their historic home of North and Northeast Portland.
Despite Brown Hope’s early visibility and demonstrated demand for its programs, we -like many culturally specific organizations - lacked institutional access to funding to hire staff and sustain our momentum. Until recently, Brown Hope survived as a completely volunteer-led organization.
Brown Hope’s story changed dramatically in 2020. Fueled by George Floyd’s murder, Portlanders led more than 100 days of direct action in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Community members across a diversity of backgrounds turned to Brown Hope as a place of bold vision for collective healing.
We launched the Black Resilience Fund on June 1st, 2020, and in 28 days, more than 11,000 Portlanders came together to invest over $1 million in tangible relief for Black Portlanders grappling with the dual storms of racism and a global pandemic.
Brown Hope has embraced this window of opportunity for racial justice. We are committed to researching, implementing, and evolving new, paradigm challenging strategies that help inspire a national movement on racial healing and hope. Together, we can reimagine what is possible.
This an urgent call to action. In the face of centuries of injustice, our solution is Brown Hope.