Photography by Celeste Noche
November 19, 2017
Name: Jonny Sanders
Pronouns: Jonny Cool Star Gazer
Background: Egyptian/Native American, born and raised in Portland, Oregon. The youngest of 5 kids. Mom was a soul singer, and my father is a keyboardist. I started my music journey at the age of 20.Medium of choice: Laptop and Keyboard, Microphone and Beat machine
Karaoke jam: Too High by Stevie Wonder
“Spend less money on the Trail Blazers and Timbers, put that money into the art scene.”
On the Sunday before "Thanksgiving," it's important to acknowledge that this city exists on stolen land. The same is true nationwide, and in countless places beyond our country, but living in Portland today means we continue to witness this pattern of colonialism and displacement.
This city was founded on theft and racism, and with the influx of gentrification we're seeing it further still. There are countless articles and discussions happening around this subject, but we ask Portland residents: if you've moved to here and/or you live in an area that was historically indigenous, black, or predominantly another marginalized group, what are you doing to give back to the community you now inhabit? What are you doing to justify the space you're taking up and the space you've taken to displace someone else?
This isn't to restrict where you live or what you call home, but be cognizant. It isn't enough to be a nice neighbor and maintain curb appeal. Give your money to the people, businesses, and communities you've welcomed yourself to. Understand the racial wealth gap that's allowed you be where you are and patronize the local businesses that are still standing despite everything else changing around them.
To that end, I'm excited to introduce this week's guest-- a musician and Portland native, Jonny Sanders. As Portland continues to change, I hope this city will proactively reach out to and support artists like Jonny who are still here, still taking up space, still thriving.
Tell us about one of your favorite Portland memories: My favorite Portland memory is when NE Portland was considered a black neighborhood. It was a time when it felt like a community and felt welcoming. There weren't a lot of apartments, people of color lived in houses.
Please share a time it was difficult living in Portland: This time is difficult to live in Portland, the cost of living is so high, it's hard to see so many people struggle with finding living space. Also, the roads are so full of cars, it makes the trees and I sick.
How can Portland support you and/or your community? Portland can support me by supporting my art, keep communication open, spend less money on the Trail Blazers and Timbers, put that money into the art scene. My community is full of artists and healers, support their grind.
See more of Jonny's work on Instagram, Twitter, and www.jonnycool86.com.
Portland in Color is a self-funded project. If you enjoyed this feature, please consider donating to keep the series going.