Last Updated: September 20, 2020

The Southern Oregon Coalition for Racial Equity (SOEquity) was formed in direct response to the murder of George Floyd and the protests that erupted in our local communities and around the world in June 2020. We started as a small group of concerned citizens meeting weekly over Zoom to develop values and policy recommendations to help focus and unite the already incredible work of local organizations and grassroots movements. Over the summer of 2020, our member base expanded and our leadership team grew from one person to five talented and caring individuals who are whole-heartedly invested in uniting and growing our community.

 

On August 29, 2020, a spotlight was shown on us as we stood up for racial justice in Rogue River, Oregon after an organized effort to suppress a family-friendly barbecue for children of color was unfortunately successful. Though we did not have the barbecue, our members and supporters answered the call to action and stood in front of Rogue River City Hall to make sure our voices were heard and our freedom of speech expressed. We stood our ground and remained nonviolent, even as we were outnumbered 2 to 1 by self-proclaimed “patriots” who gathered across the street from us, yelling hateful slurs and threats directly at us. The silver lining of the disappointing actions of Rogue River leaders and residents was the platform our brand-new organization was granted. We were excited to continue mobilizing and working towards our mission of creating an anti-racist Southern Oregon.

 

Less than two weeks after the events in Rogue River, wildfires rampaged our Southern Oregon community. Once again, our members and supporters answered the call to action and began organizing supplies and donations and volunteers to ensure our community was as supported as possible. Though SOEquity was not created to provide direct services, we are dedicated to creating an environment in which all members can live a life with dignity and shifted our focus to meet the needs of our community. We partnered with the Living Waters Church in Medford to serve as a donation and distribution site for essential supplies. We used much of our donated funds from individuals and from the Rogue Relief Fund to provide hotel accommodations for those who do not have anywhere else to go. We organized a delivery dispatch system to support those who lost their cars and are unable to access our supplies. And we continue to provide these services for as long as they are necessary and we have the funds to do so.

 

Now, less than two weeks after the start of the fires, we are again shifting our focus to meet the needs of our community. As people in power provide top-down support that is inaccessible to many Spanish-speaking, undocumented and/or chronically houseless members of our community, we are mobilizing to ensure that the services we help provide and distribute prioritize our most marginalized neighbors. In addition to our above efforts, we have worked around the clock to help translate services and materials so that they are available and accessible in Spanish. We have helped coordinate Spanish-speaking volunteers to be on-site at our partnered distribution site. And, as we look forward, we will offer culturally-sensitive and trauma-informed volunteer trainings so that everyone is treated with the care and compassion they deserve. This is only the beginning of our efforts to rebuild our community and ensure that it is done through an equity and antiracist lens. We are in this together. Estamos juntos en esto.

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