I’m sure many of you have been spending the last few days monitoring the results of the election. You’re not alone. As I write this month’s Director’s Desk, many races across Oregon and the U.S. have yet to be called, but I am reminded of the importance that every voice of each person be heard through the ballot they cast. Anything less would be an affront on our fundamental right to engage in our democratic process.
In Oregon, we are fortunate to have mail-in ballots, but for too many of our friends in other states, voting isn’t as easy as dropping your ballot off with your overdue library books. Discriminatory practices to intimidate and suppress the voices of eligible voters, especially voters of color, have been far too common, even in recent history. The right to vote unencumbered by systemic obstacles is more than just access to the democratic process, it’s access to discussions on economic justice, on access to safe, stable and affordable homes, on criminal justice, and on so many other issues that can show up on the ballot. When those rights are infringed upon, important voices, especially voices of color, are removed from these critical discussions.
This year has brought about unprecedented change and challenge, it has also given us a glimpse of the potential and possibility that is unleashed when economic and housing justice work emerges from communities. Our challenge will be to imagine and implement new ways to do our work that center those most impacted, and to uplift the solutions and work that has already been happening in communities, particularly in BIPOC communities. Now more than ever is the time to come together and address the root causes that have been created and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and address systemic racism.
That is why I am pleased that Neighborhood Partnerships will be hosting the all-virtual RE:Conference to continue these important conversations. We have a great lineup of community leaders who will share their insight and vision to support economic and housing justice. It will also be an opportunity for us to think about how we work together to continue to help uplift and support the leadership and work within our communities. I invite you to join us to have these necessary discussions with your fellow housing and economic justice advocates at our upcoming virtual RE:Conference 2020 to talk about the concurrent pandemics and crises, and the housing and economic justice solutions that our communities need.
Our future is built upon everyone having a voice and all of us coming together as a community to solve shared problems, to keep each other safe, and to help each other prosper. Now is the time to get engaged and to envision a future that ensures housing and economic opportunity for all of us.