On my street

2 Jun

When I first moved to the home where I now live, I noticed a patch of asphalt that had writing carved into it. It was a little hard to read, but it was a memorial  to someone who had been killed.

Yesterday, as I was walking home from Whole Foods, I looked up and noticed that the signcaps on top of the street signs had Amharic writing. I stopped. How had I never noticed this before? Were these signs new?

I was a little surprised to find that the signcap at the top of my street was the same. How is it that I never looked at the sign? I have a vague memory of noticing that signcaps had been installed a few years ago, but I had never bothered to read what they said.  Most of the signcaps in this part of Portland, just say the name of the neighborhood, so I never looked. I just assumed.

Once home,  I did a little research. I learned that the signs were put up on November 13, 2018 to commemorate the 1988 murder of Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian immigrant, by white supremacists. That was a Tuesday, so I would have been at school and missed the ceremony that occurred.  And I put two and two together and realized that the section of asphalt I’d never been able to read must have been about Mulugeta Seraw’s murder. After doing my research, I went back out to read the asphalt.

It had been paved over.

So here I am, putting together a lot of things we’ve all been thinking about these last few days.

What are other things I have seen but never looked at?

What other things are being paved over?

How can I do better?


16 Responses to “On my street”

  1. arjeha June 2, 2020 at 7:46 am #

    I think so many of us are guilty of not seeing what is actually in front of us but rather assuming it says what we think it should say. Your post is a clear reminder to me that we need to open our eyes and look at what is actually happening not what we think is going on.

  2. jumpofffindwings June 2, 2020 at 8:17 am #

    I am out of words about this. Thank you for some education today, Adrienne.

    • jumpofffindwings June 2, 2020 at 8:21 am #

      I just read the Willamette Week article. These words say it all:”‘His murder shocked a portion of our community, but it didn’t shock every Portlander,’ Eudaly said. ‘It certainly didn’t shock our black neighbors, who had been living in fear of what happened to Mulugeta happening to them.'”

      • Adrienne June 2, 2020 at 8:24 am #

        The story, combined with what is going on has really rocked me.

      • jumpofffindwings June 2, 2020 at 8:41 am #

        You are NOT ALONE.

  3. Kathleen Parker June 2, 2020 at 8:29 am #

    This is an awesome post, Adrienne. Thanks you for the enlightenment.

    Sincerely, Kathleen Parker 💕


    • Anonymous June 2, 2020 at 9:53 am #

      Thank you, Adrienne. I think those are all excellent questions white folks should be asking themselves.

  4. jaclynfre June 2, 2020 at 9:29 am #

    Beautifully observed and captured. Thanks for sharing on how you dug deeper. This feels like the same revelation that many felt in November 2016–suddenly seeing our neighbors for the first time (for many reasons and in different ways). It’s shocking, but also requires action, which you’ve demonstrated here.

  5. Fran McCrackin June 2, 2020 at 10:44 am #

    Wow, what a punch this has.
    I feel as if this piece should travel farther than twowritingteachers.
    I urge you to think of another way to send it out/get it published, to a wider audience.
    Maybe a newspaper opinion section?

    • Adrienne June 2, 2020 at 10:56 am #

      Thanks. I will think about it.

  6. Diane Cherry June 2, 2020 at 12:12 pm #

    Did you see on Facebook a few months ago that Mamo had attended a memorial for him? Hearn had seen it on the news and posted it on Facebook. Hope you are doing well as things [start to wind down] [get crazier than ever] as the school year ends. I started to write “wind down” but realized that might not be the case! Diane

    Sent from Diane’s iPhone


    • Adrienne June 2, 2020 at 12:15 pm #

      I don’t recall seeing that. This is a big week for grading. I am watching kids’ video presentations. It’s nice to see and hear them.

  7. Lisa Corbett June 2, 2020 at 6:10 pm #

    When I read your last 2 lines, I immediately thought of this e. e. cummings poem/saying: “Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.” I think this would make a lovely mentor text to use with your students!

  8. Diane Anderson (newtreemom) June 2, 2020 at 6:50 pm #

    Seen but never looked at … that question is one for these times…

  9. rdicarne June 2, 2020 at 7:41 pm #

    Your words resonate with me…so much I have seen but not looked at! Thank you.

  10. Elisabeth Ellington June 4, 2020 at 7:28 am #

    Wow! Thank you for this piece. It’s a powerful story of what we miss when we have the privilege of not looking closely at what is right in front of us. It’s extraordinary how much we miss, isn’t it? I appreciate the call to action in your final question.

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