Portland Activist Launches Reparations Happy Hour For People of Color

Two people hold $10 bills at a Reparations Happy Hour, hosted by Brown Hope in Portland, Oregon. White donors were able to contribute $10 to people of color for food and drinks. Cameron Whitten/Facebook

A nonprofit in Portland, Oregon, is now giving out reparations to people of color at a Reparations Happy Hour event.

Every person of color who attended the May 21 event at Backyard Social in Portland was given $10. White people were told not to attend the event, but to give donations in support. A total of 40 people attended the event and $400 was distributed at the event.

The happy hour was created by social justice organizer Cameron Whitten through his new nonprofit organization, Brown Hope.

"It's exactly what it sounds like," Whitten told Raw Story. "What I want to do is end the cycle of exploitation. For black, brown, indigenous people you face so many barriers, whether it's tokenization or straight-up poverty."

Whitten, 27, told Newsweek that after living in Portland for most of his life, he wanted to create a space for black, brown and indigenous people living in his community. He started the nonprofit Brown Hope to create "community-grounded initiatives to make justice a lived experience for black, brown, and indigenous people in Oregon," according to the website.

"With the reparations happy hour, the whole idea is to how do we feel from this trauma of racism? We talked to folks, we engage folks. They said we want a space for our community, and we said we can do better than that. How about we do some reparations?" Whitten said.

"For every black, brown and indigenous person we give them $10 to acknowledge the history of everything," he continued. "By doing this event, we are creating a space of empowerment and a safe space for black, brown and indigenous people to see each other," said Whitten.

Whitten has raised $5,000 for future events and said there already plans for another Reparations Happy Gour event.

"We are in a day and time where thanks to technology and thanks to our moral capacities that when we see something, we can take action," Whitten said.

A chef in New Orleans hosted a similar experiment in March. Chef Tunde Wey, a chef at the Nigerian restaurant Saartj in Louisiana, gave his diners a lesson in race by conducting a social experiment that allowed people of color to pay $12 for their meal, while white people had the choice of paying either $12 or $30 for their meal.

Profits from the $30 meals were redistributed to people of color who wanted it, regardless of their income.