Dear Port Townsend people
Are you a person of color? Do you identify as white? Do you have a personal story about race? Is that story set in the communities in and around Port Townsend? If so, I’d love to hear from you!
Concept: One small, mostly-white, community on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula shares its stories about race. Scroll to the bottom to submit questions, comments or refer the author to resources.
12/3/2018: As of today, I’ve interviewed two people who may want to share stories on this topic. We all want to work together to decide how to share difficult stories in a way that is safe, respectful, honest and powerful.
10/14/2018: I reached out to author Jerry Gorsline, author of “Shadows of Our Ancestors: Readings in the History of Klallam-White Relations” (1992). Mr. Gorsline’s book came up when I was searching the Port Townsend Library for information about the first interactions between white and non-white people in Port Townsend. I enjoyed his book because he took the time to describe multiple interpretations of the historical documents he used. In my mind, it only seemed right and fair to begin at this city’s origins when initiating the Storyborne series of stories about race in Port Townsend. Mr. Gorsline very generously provided suggestions about who I might reach out to with my questions. With many irons in the fire, it may be a week or two before I initiate contact with those community members.
10/13/2018: I put the following message out on Facebook and received two replies so far: If you are white-identified or a person of color who would like to open up about the subject of race as it relates to your life in Port Townsend, please send me a personal message. Your curiosity will not be seen as commitment. I will regard all communications as confidential. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Author’s starting point: The title of this series, “Dear Port Townsend people,” is a reference to the 2014 film, “Dear White People.” As Wikipedia sums it up, that film focuses on escalating racial tensions at a fictitious, prestigious Ivy League college from the perspective of several black students. However, I’m not saying Port Townsend has escalating racial tension. What I am saying is the some 600 people of color living in Port Townsend might have stories to share about living in a city where their physical features make them stand out. I would like to hear them. I also want to hear from people who identify as white about their thoughts and experiences on the matter of race. Through hearing these voices, I am hoping this community will develop a greater understanding of one another, and maybe learn some ways to make our interactions with one another even more thoughtful and respectful.
Check back for updates as this story develops.
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