Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Et tu, Eugene?

That bastion of liberalism, Eugene, Oregon (home of the University of Oregon) finds the shoe fits on the other foot:

Marilyn Mays, the city of Eugene's first-ever diversity coordinator and the local NAACP's high-profile president, said Monday that she's resigned her job and is leaving town.

Mays, 38, said community denial around issues of racism, and the fallout from an allegation of racial profiling made by her nephew, Cortez Jordan, contributed to her decision. She said she's also grown frustrated with resistance within city government to some of her work.

"People stay in jobs sometimes for the wrong reasons," she said. "When I start feeling like I'm not being heard and not being valued, it's time for me to move on."

Mays is the latest in a long line of minority professionals who've left the Eugene area in frustration, minority advocates said.

"It just shows how this community chews up people who are trying to make a difference," said businessman Henry Luvert, who will succeed Mays as president of the Eugene-Springfield branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "This community is just as racist as a lot of other communities, but it hides behind facades, and those facades wear people down."

....Mays said most every minority leader in the Eugene-Springfield area is familiar with the "eXit Files," a semi-tongue-in-cheek list of professionals of color who've left the area over the past dozen years.

The list was created by Anselmo Villanueva, currently principal at Adams Elementary School in Eugene.
Villanueva said he stopped adding to the list after the number of names exceeded 100....

Most everyone on the list, he said, cited similar reasons for leaving - workplace hostility, a "glass ceiling" that blocks job advancement, an expectation that they'll take on diversity work in addition to their regular duties, and a "cultural void" brought on by the community's lack of ethnic diversity.

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