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June 5, 2020
Oregon Commission on Black Affairs
Open statement to communities and policymakers statewide (PDF link here)

As many of you are, the Oregon Commission on Black Affairs (OCBA) is deeply saddened by the reckless death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. And, this moment of protest is part of a much larger movement as we consider the lives lost over the past three months: Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was killed in her own home by the Louisville (KY) Police Department. Tony McDade, a Black trans man who was killed by police in Tallahassee (FL). Nina Pop, a Black trans woman, was murdered in Missouri. Let us not forget the weaponizing of white privilege by Amy Cooper in Central Park (NY) against a Black man, Christian Cooper.

Our Black community includes LGBTQ, Trans and non-gender binary folks, our elders, people with disabilities, youth, immigrants and refugees. In recent events, all of these identities are present. For our collective Black community here in Oregon, there must be an understanding of all who are affected by the injustice that allowed the death of Mr. Floyd. We, as your OCBA Commissioners, represent all of our community, which includes intersectional identities, personal or adjacent - and we honor them.  It is important that we be clear and honest about who our community is.  We embrace and hold in mind all community members in our demand for justice and equity.

We also recognize this is happening in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken over 100,000+ lives and has disproportionately affected Black communities. While this moment is daunting, we lift up and support the vision and platforms of the Movement for Black Lives, the (Portland based) Coalition of Communities of Color, the Oregon Health Equity Alliance (OHEA) and other organizations that are seeking legislative and policy reforms. At the same time, this is an important moment to radically reimagine our criminal justice system. The legacy of criminal justice harm for Black people in this country demands approaches that go beyond incremental changes--convenient steps that still focus on pouring resources into the institutions that have resulted in the loss of life and liberty for so many. 

The time for a radical re-imagination is now. We must meaningfully pursue the divestment of resources from criminal justice and towards community resources.  We must support practices that build capacity in our communities through education, health and housing justice. 

Radical re-imagination calls for de-incarceration. We acknowledge that the confinement and supervision of our communities leaves contemporaneous and intergenerational trauma. The disparities we see in incarceration rates is unacceptable, yet it is predictable based on the inherent racism embedded into criminal justice systems and the disproportionate conviction and sentencing of Black defendants.

We call for an intentional reconciling of our nation's history and the relationship and role of our criminal justice system to the dehumanization of Black bodies. 

The OCBA supports any and all movements that are working towards justice.  We will advocate in the short term for community-centered and driven solutions, and we will elevate discussions around radical reform to protect our communities.

In solidarity,
OCBA Commissioners:
 
Chair, Jamal Fox 
 
Vice-Chair, Lawanda Manning
Commissioner Angela Addae, JD 
Commissioner Ben Duncan
Commissioner Djimet Dogo 
Commissioner Mariotta Gary-Smith
Commissioner Musse Olol
Commissioner Rep. Akasha Lawrence Spence

In mutual support,
 Hussein Al-Baiaty and Mohamed Alyajouri, OCAPIA Co-Chairs
Irma Linda Castillo, OCHA Chair
Robin Morris Collin, OCFW Chair

Links to resources & information:



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You will need to complete an Interest Form​ and send it to Executive Appointments in the Governor's Office. For more information: https://www.oregon.gov/gov/admin/pages/how_to_apply.aspx

The Advocacy Commissions hold public meetings every other month. For the list of OCBA's upcoming public meetings, click here​. For the list of all the Advocacy Commissions' upcoming meetings, click here​.​​

​As part of their statutory missions, the Commissions maintain an independent policy voice within the three branches of state government. They collaborate with the Governor’s office, Senate President's and House Speaker's offices, legislators, and judicial branch, in support of mutual areas of public policy concern, addressing long standing issues and lifting lesser known but important policy areas into prominence with advocacy, equity-focused policy research, partnerships and community engagement. 

Community Partnerships:
The Oregon Commissions on Asian and Pacific Islanders Affairs, Black Affairs, Hispanic Affairs, and the Commission for Women work with their constituent community partners to grow the voice of underrepresented and marginalized communities in public policy statewide. Together with community partners, the OACs plan legislative advocacy, host joint legislative days at the Capitol, co-host community forums, and study longstanding community challenges.

Departmental Partnerships:
The Oregon Advocacy Commissions engage with state departmental leadership to plan and conduct equity-focused joint policy research; develop partner research/data sharing agreements; present research outcomes; advance equity-focused legislation and administrative rules, and access to granular data and equity-focused analytics.

Governor's Initiatives Partnership:
The Oregon Advocacy Commissions have a long history of working with Oregon governors to bring community voice and equity focus into their strategic initiatives to build a more equitable Oregon. This has included voter registration, supporting key initiatives around family leave, affordable housing, home ownership, diverse work forces, access to higher education, excellence in schools, and diversion from prisons, mental and behavioral health services.


Legislative Partnerships: 
The Oregon Advocacy Commissions build policy partnerships with legislators during interim around emerging issues and policy considerations, with OAC presentations to legislative committees, joint policy research, legislative partner discussions, issue forums, shared listening sessions, and OAC workgroup engagement. 

Research Partnerships:
The Oregon Advocacy Commissions develop ongoing collaborations and partnerships with interested universities statewide for equity-focused policy research with the Advocacy Commissions.  This may include research with graduate/PhD students or faculty, jointly writing grants, and co-authoring research articles impacting equity in the OACs’ constituent communities.​


Interested in learning more about partnering with the Advocacy Commissions? See our Partnerships page, and you can email us at OACO.mail@oregon.gov​. Please include "Research Partnership" in the subject line.​​​​​

Research Internships and Externships with the Advocacy Commissions

The Oregon Advocacy Commissions (OACs) provide Masters, PhD, and 3L Law students with for-credit public policy internships addressing their strategic priorities. The equity-focused, applied policy research is conducted jointly with state data and policy partners, the Governor’s Office, and legislators serving on the Advocacy Commissions, to study data, best practices, effective policies, literature review, analyze gaps, suggest remedies and produce reports, which are used by the OACs and their partners to inform new or revise existing policies and statutes, develop strategic approaches and craft legislation that improve the success of the Advocacy Commissions constituent communities statewide.

Graduate students and their major professors may propose a research topic to the Advocacy Commissions or explore current recruitments for policy research internships being conducted by the OACs by contacting the OACs Office at OACO.mail@Oregon.gov with “Research Internship Request” in the subject line.

Explore the OACs’ current and past research internships and related applied policy research here:
OCBA Policy Research and Recommendations

Leadership Development opportunities may include scholarships from individual Commissions to attend culturally-specific leadership training and development opportunities. The Advocacy Commissions and Governor Brown also encourage community members to participate on Oregon's 200 + Boards and Commissions.​

​Commissioners are volunteers, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. Contact the Oregon Advocacy Commissions Office at OACO.mail@oregon.gov​​ with the date, time, location, length of speaking time and which Commission you are interested in.​​

Proclamation and Celebration

The Oregon Advocacy Commissions historically work with the Governor’s Office to celebrate the contributions and leadership of Oregon’s Communities of Color and women statewide.   Together they have hosted History Month proclamation signings, community gatherings with the Governor, and Women of Achievement awards.   The Oregon State Capitol and the Oregon Advocacy Commissions also join with community partners for open weekend celebrations at the state capitol, with historical exhibits, capitol tours, interpreters, festivities and cultural presentations.

See the most current Governor’s proclamations here for:​
Black History Month

The Advocacy Commissions are a registered 501(c)(3) entity. Donations may be 100 % tax deductible​.​ Click here​ to donate to the Ore​gon Commission on Black Affairs.

If you are seeking a personal advocate or are experiencing problems or issues associated with government services, please call the Governor’s Constituent Services Office at 503-378-4582.​​



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