A statement from Do Write PDX. Formerly, Write-in Teressa Raiford for Portland Mayor.
We want to thank our supporters, our donors, and our volunteers. Our impact has shown that we do not have to work within the systems that continue to oppress us. While these were not the outcomes we expected, this movement has created undeniable change.
The purpose of Do Write PDX, formerly known as Write in Teressa Raiford, was to empower ourselves and others to elicit change and for Black Lives Matter. The pursuit of Black liberation, Indigenous sovereignty, and to uplift all those oppressed by systems built upon white supremacy and exploitation.
Let’s be clear, the election results are underwhelming. Do Write dared to challenge the status quo and couldn’t be more proud of the work seen each of you take. A group of BIPoC folks and youth-led the campaign, working each day to create radical change in Portland.
Together, we succeeded in showing that community action matters. When we take the time to understand and learn, we can create change.
It shouldn’t take civil unrest for white candidates to give up their platform. If this was not about personal, political careers, they would have fought for true justice. Long before this election, marginalized folks had been declaring “We protect us.” What this election has shown us is that white folks, specifically, think that voting for someone to do their work is progressive, nominating “Another White mayor wins Portland” would be a better headline than “Portland elects their first Black mayor via a write-in with help from their allies.”
Instead, this movement was villainized, scrutinized, all while the Black and Brown folks helping facilitate are dealing with the world as it exists. Our hope is for you to know that we wouldn’t have risked all we have if we didn’t truly believe in Black liberation in Portland.
Before people gathered together to advocate for democracy via a write-in, people felt they were not represented by either candidate on the ballot and their vote was not guaranteed to any one candidate. The write-in engaged and inspired voters, largely youth voters and disenfranchised voters so there is no one to blame for a lackluster result except two lackluster candidates. Neither candidate truly engaged the voices demanding accountability because neither could truly meet these voters at this moment. Remember, we owe nothing to white saviors that uphold the systems we seek to dismantle. The idea that our votes are owed to a candidate upholds white supremacy. That these same candidates believe they deserve things from the BIPOC community instead of giving their resources to Black and brown folks. Until White folks see this as their problem to alleviate, they will continue to weaponize against us the same systems they oppress against us.
Accountability is asking if we are ok with this result regardless of which white savior was elected. If this type of system is for tangible change representing the people or for personal clout. If systemic oppression makes us uncomfortable do we take our own action? Or do we pass the action onto someone else and put a BLM sign in our yard? Do Write made this conversation of performative allyship unavoidable. Do Write PDX presented an option for folks, to uphold the same systems that have gotten us to this point, or to do the work we have demanded in the streets for over 120 nights now.
This has always been about more than one election and the work does not end! We started as a group of inspired artists, organizers, and youth. Through bureaucratic red tape, we now exist as a PAC. We were forced to navigate financial and legal systems that are difficult to understand without a classist academic background or legal resources. Hundreds of donors and volunteers turned out, thousands of texts and phone calls were made. New, accountable, and leadership that represents us an unavoidable demand. This demand lies outside of the standard campaign and financial systems that uphold oppression.
Our campaign raised just upwards of ~10,000 and only spent ~2,000, mostly on software and t‑shirts. Other campaigns loaned themselves 150k or used taxpayer money to the tune of 1.2 Million. The OAE system exposes that it largely equates to wealth and proximity to existing power structures. Campaigning is an extremely time-consuming and financially straining activity — two things that marginalized folks looking to represent themselves can rarely accommodate. We have to strip down the systems that have purposely excluded folks outside the status quo. The implicit nature of raising money in a predominantly white community — specifically from a Black-led campaign — is not lost in how people scrutinize a write-in campaign and not the upheld oppressive systems. This rhetoric is invested in downplaying and ignoring Portland’s long upheld systemic racism. We believe in finance reform, but not to the detriment of our communities during the midst of a pandemic. The values of capitalism will never save those it seeks to exploit.
“I think the importance of doing activist work is precisely because it allows you to give back and to consider yourself not as a single individual who may have achieved whatever, but to be a part of an ongoing historical movement.”
—Angela Davis, American political activist, academic, and author
The government won’t save us, we protect us. The results of this write-in are what that looks like. Our collective actions add up to a bigger impact. High school magazines wrote about us, hundreds of people made their own yard signs, banners and we received national recognition to ensure Black lives matter was more than just a yard sign. We are inspired more than ever and we hope to see you continue to Do Write.