Breaking News: Racist, Biphobic, inflammatory stickers found on TriMet

Racist, biphobic, inflammatory sticker found on TriMet

Racist, biphobic, inflammatory stickers found on TriMet. Thank you to Keller Henry for this photo.

Just in: Keller Henry, a Portland resident and TriMet user, took a quick snapshot of a sticker found on TriMet.

My thoughts are all in a jumble about this, but I will try and make sense of it the best I can. I am a white, queer European who has been an anti-facist and anti-racist activist since I was a teen. And I love Portland. I love this city. I care about this city, and I care about the things I see on bus stops.

A couple of things come to mind when Portland is mentioned. One thing is bikes. One thing is sexual diversity. One thing is green living. One thing is open-ness, a rich DIY culture, non-mainstream, independent, liberal thought. Queers. Counter-culture.  And part of this idea is our use of public transportation.Public transportation often works as a kind of microcosm of society at large: people collide here that whose lives pass each other without touching. The homeless, the rich, the students, the factory employees, the single mothers, the office workers, the hipsters, the church ladies, the bikers, the skateboarders. African Americans. Asian Americans. Bisexual people. Hispanics. Whites Americans. Drug users. Native Americans. HIV positive people. Immigrants. Visaholders. People with Aids. Citizens. The bus is the one thing we all use.

Any grumbling about TriMet aside: It’s part of our city, and we love to hate it sometimes. We hate it in the rain when the #8 doesn’t come, we love it when the papers write about our great transportation system.  But one thing not often mentioned by Portlanders and often touted by the media is our city’s overwhelmingly white population. A couple of rapidly gentrifying N/NE neighbourhoods aside, inner Portland is overwhelmingly white. So much so that most portlanders I know seem to carry a secret shame about being, as one friend put it, “so fucking white.” So what are we going to do about it?

Whilst there is nothing wrong with being white per se, the lack of ethnic and racial diversity does put the onus on white people to start combating racism that appears in our city. It’s time for white people to stand up and pay attention to racism and discrimination by white people in our city, institutionalized or not, public or not. It’s time to combat tokenization, inverse racism, white guilt, and offensive fucking stickers at the fucking bus stop. Nobody, regardless of who they shag and the colour of their skin, should have to deal with being confronted with this bullshit when they are trying to take the bus. It can’t be just up to people of colour to combat racism. White people can’t just pretend that this shit does not exist. That racist white people don’t whisper racist things under their breath to you, expecting you to not say anything because you’re white. That sometimes, as a white person, you do think in racial stereotypes and you don’t want to admit it. And maybe, as a queer person, you are anti-straight and don’t want to admit it. Or as a dyke or a fag, you’re anti “bisexual” and don’t want to admit it.

Portland’s marginalized communities of immigrants and people of colour must be supported by Portland’s white majority. We *must* form alliances. Between genders, sexualities, ethnicities. Stand up and let your voices be heard. Tell the national alliance that white people want them to fuck off and stop spreading inflammatory propaganda on the fucking bus. I want it to be clear that i want white people to start seeing racism – as opposed to start tokenizing black people. Don’t tell me that “Black people can be racist too”. I know that – anybody can be a racist. Anybody can be anything. But white people, as a group, don’t realize often enough that we’re the default in this city. White people don’t have to deal with stickers on the bus stop.

Discussion please. Stay mindful of your intentions so we can have a real discussion. Thank you.

9 comments to Breaking News: Racist, Biphobic, inflammatory stickers found on TriMet

  • Ok, so I'm obviously still processing with intelligent things to say but over on Facebook a commenter said "take them down" and I'm all for it. It reminded me about signs the other day at one of my favorite bars in town, the Bye and Bye. (Nowhere NEAR the same level or anything just made me think of it)

    Anyway, so they have 2 restrooms which have remained gender neutral for a long time and the other day they taped distinct male and female signs up. Why? So I tore them down. If any of the bartenders are wondering who did that, yeah, it was me…

  • Amy

    Ever heard of the National Vanguard? I went to the website address on that despicable sticker and found out it's the same folks — National Alliance (white supremacists). But the last issue of the Vanguard was Nov/Dec '07. Curious. These are the people who have called for "the White Race" to be placed on the endangered species list since "all relevant laws are working against the continued existence of Whites."

    The website,, also offers a sticker (alternately, the ubiquitous magnetic ribbon) that says: "Bring our Troops Home and Put them on the Mexican Border."

    Despicable. I am sure TriMet will be removing the stickers, if the patron don't first. Any you're right, Perry ~ it is a WHITE person's responsibility to combat racism of any variety, particularly in an overwhelmingly white majority populace.

    Good posting.

  • Keller

    i think people are completely missing the point.

    it's not enough just to take down the stickers. it doesn't make it go away. while we're patting ourselves on the back for being so damn progressive we are providing unchecked, and fertile recruiting grounds.

    go to the website, read what these kind of people are talking about. their rhetoric is very different than you might expect. they take an evolutionary path to justifying inequality.

    we all know how to answer the bible-thumpers when they start hating. but are we ready to take on that armed with "science?"

    sticking your head in the sand will not keep your ass from getting blown up!

  • Brazil

    blerg! thanks for sharing this. this makes my blood boil.

    i wonder why they just said "bisexuals" and not "homosexuals" or something else derogatory…

    "It’s time for white people to stand up and pay attention to racism and discrimination by white people in our city, institutionalized or not, public or not."

    THANK YOU! i couldn't agree more. it's hard to be an ally and stand up for marginalized groups that you are not part of… and it's not easy to recognize your own internalized racism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, ableism, etc… but really, as allies, it is our responsibility to do this. and if we don't, then are we really allies?

    once we start admitting these prejudices and all that internalized bullshit that has been fed to us by an oppressive society, we will be able to free ourselves of our guilt and shame and be able to build alliances across communities. we need to be unified to fight oppression and to fight for social justice. it just won't work otherwise. oppression loves to keep the oppressed folks fighting, it distracts us from actually changing the system.

    and, Alley, way to go with taking down those gendered restroom signs. 🙂

  • EcoCrafty

    It goes beyond just simply *seeming* "so fucking white". Portland has beat Salt Lake City Utah as the whitest city in the US during several Census years. We are consistently within the top 4. It's a factual quantifiable thing. Portland is WHITE. We are also overwhelmingly secular, which I find interesting, if not wholly surprising.

  • WCM

    Has anyone reported this to Rose City Antifacists? This article should also be posted to

  • National Alliance started with a Physics professor at University of Oregon named Pierce. They moved near Washington DC and got listed as a "hate group" by the Southern Povery Law Center.

    Pierce is dead.