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Will we continue to call violent racists, sexists and homophobic people 'alleged,' or will we accept the evil next door? The evil we let sit in our hearts because we believe that we know what others will do with their ideas.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Crystallee CrainI am appalled by the recent news reported on the racist activity that is happening in Portland and the surrounding areas. As a black woman, I am in a position of being constantly reminded that my life, and those who love me, are in danger.

It is a moot point to talk about the displaced timing of hate-filled behavior that only serves to isolate and permeate our hearts. We don't have to reminisce about historical and legal landmarks that have clearly not been enough.

Human beings are not meant to separate based on misinterpretations of discomfort or lack of knowledge.

The recent reports on students being confronted by racist individuals speaking hate to them isn't acceptable. Freedom of speech does not include threatening the lives of anyone, especially children. This is blanket harassment and depending on the way an individual is charged, could be grounds for assault if something did happen. Even with this level of involvement with the criminal justice system, does that leave the rest of us safe?

Where is the justice for people in marginalized groups in the Portland community? Do we have to wait for another incident on public transportation where the public sees it for the community to respond? Placing a black face in an article with a story of fear should not be the only response we can offer one another. Is there not something else that can be done?

I often am confronted with the realities that people of color, the queer community, immigrants and other marginalized groups face. In this vein, I wonder whether criminally prosecuting hate is enough.

What about the lack of protection in the workplace? How are we guaranteeing that the way we educate the youth and our families (of all ages) includes a narrative that is based in equity? If we continue to teach about colonization as nation-building and that slavery and internment camps were a sad part of our past that have no impact on today, we are asking ignorance to guide our ability to socially co-exist.

Justice doesn't also mean relying on the police, FBI or Homeland Security to respond. They have restrictions and some political and personal biases of their own. This does not mean that someone is wrong for contacting authorities. It can be a helpful step, but if it was working, then why is the escalation moving closer to our doorsteps?

Justice means that if the community does not respond, more people will die. This is not extreme; this is a fact. It is not the burden of those who are hated to change the hater's behavior. It is the responsibility of the peer groups of those who hate and perpetuate violence and fear to manage, report and talk to these people.

I'm confident there are people who are not filled with hate who knew the attacker who killed two and wounded one hero of humanity on public transit in May. I'm confident they didn't do enough. We can't blame the police for not responding sooner. But this person was groomed and trained. That takes time. The police will not save us. The police are only mirroring the problem that is next door.

What is happening to our communities here, and across the country, is on all of us. We need to stand up for what is right and keep all of us safe, even those who hate. They put themselves at risk when threatening others.

Will we continue to call violent racists, sexists and homophobic people "alleged," or will we accept the evil next door? The evil we let sit in our hearts because we believe that we know what others will do with their ideas.

Will we accept the passive silence and shallow responses shared on social media? Tweets and status updates are not enough. If this community lets any more of us die or continue to live in fear, nothing will change. There will be consequences some of us never thought imaginable. Where do you stand?

Turning up your rationalization music box and numbing your heart won't save you. And it most definitely will not save us.

What are you going to do?

Crystallee Crain, Ph.D, is a professor, consultant, author and former juvenile justice commissioner who lives in Southeast Portland. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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