In July, I will be heading to Portland, Oregon for the 2022 American Cheese Society Conference. I’m on a panel with excellent cheese friends and we will be discussing mental health in marginalized communities. The Cheese Culture Coalition will also have a table at the conference and I’ll be joining several board members to spread the curd word. I’m excited to reconnect with friends I haven’t seen in a while, and to finally meet those friends I formed bonds with online during the height of the protests of 2020. While I’m excited about the conference I have to admit that I’m nervous about being in Portland. Oregon has a long history of racial prejudices that start with the founding of the state, and continue today with rural hate groups becoming nationally visible in populated areas.
To work in the cheese industry as a Black woman I must know how to navigate spaces I wouldn’t inhabit if not for my job. So how do I navigate spaces where I’m not necessarily welcome?
When I travel to places I’m not familiar with, the first thing I do is search online for bloggers and other content creators of Colour who live or travel in the area. I read what they have to say, watch their videos, and send questions through their DM’s. This little bit of research allows me to not only identify places where I might not be welcome, but helps me find places where I am. Next, I look for national brand lodging. I’m less likely to have challenges, or be turned away at the DoubleTree, Hilton, or Marriott than I am trying to stay in an Airbnb. Finally, I shop with intention as often as I am able. For me, that means I look up small businesses that are run by Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour and I do what I can to support those businesses and communities while I’m in town.
There are too many restaurants, and boutiques to list here, but there are three businesses I know I’ll be supporting on my trip to Oregon.
I’m going to get some wine from Abbey Creek Vineyard. In 2008 Bertony Faustin—a first-generation American with Haitian ancestry—became the first recorded Black winemaker in Oregon. Bertony plants the vines, tends them, harvests the grapes, and makes the wine. You’ll find hip-hop playing in the tasting rooms, and nods to the artists and the culture in the naming of the wines. (Photo from Mercatus)
912 SW Morrison St., Portland | 503.389.0619
You’re going to need a cup of coffee to get your day going. Black-owned Deadstock Coffee roasts their own beans and they’re committed to crafting “snob-free” coffee. The owner used to be a designer at Nike, so they are seriously into sneakers. Wear your freshest kicks and bond with your fellow sneakerheads, artists, and creative community members over a cup of excellent coffee.
408 NW Couch St. Suite 408 | 971.220.8787
If you prefer your coffee with less Adidas vs. Nike conversation, Bison Coffeehouse is the only Native American-owned coffeehouse in Portland. They’re committed to supporting Indigenous Peoples both locally and internationally, and are very intentional with their bean purchases.
3941 NE Cully Blvd. | 503.288.3941
To learn more about some of Portland’s history, check out this article from National Geographic.