what hat do I wear to tell this story?
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
As I am coming closer to the end of this educational experience I am feeling a bit anxious. Where do I go from here? I feel that this program has brought me to a new place. I’ve been working for a long time in community organizing for justice in many areas. I’ve also been working for the funding of community organizing projects. Every once in a while I get a little video glimpse in my mind showing me the pattern God has created for me.
In a way, I’ve moved backward in the progress many people have made. I know many others who have also moved in this way but it’s not talked about a lot.
After graduating High School, the other kids in my family went to college. If I had gone to college first I may have developed an academic way of looking at life and how to serve those less fortunate than me. I may have missed the opportunity to “walk in their shoes.” Instead, I moved deeper into the world of all the abuses, sexual, physical and psychological. After years of trauma, at the age of 32, my life started moving in another way. I became a consumer/client of all of the systems, welfare, low income housing, DHS, the courts, social workers and police. And I felt like a victim of the system and everyone working in the system through my lens was oppressive and out to get me. Up until this point I had no voice, in fact, we as a sea of impoverished and disenfranchised people had no voice and no power.
My life changed forever in 1994 when I was a hotel worker with a broken back and exposed to toxic chemicals that people reached out for me and saw my value that I couldn’t see in myself and I became an organizer. After 33 years of silence and suffering I had a voice that would no longer be silent and I was taking every other victim to survivor status with me. I felt powerful and positive and proactive. There was and is a formula for changing one’s life and situation and part of that is organizing. There are also other pieces that are important.
God’s path for me has been poverty and oppression> organizing>government>academic>?
I’m now to the question mark part. I’ve learn so much, what is next? I am anxiously waiting to find out. The Bible says in: Philippians 4:6-7New King James Version (NKJV)
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
So, I guess I am saying that since I put my life in God’s hands I’ve slowly learned that “obedience is better than sacrifice.” 1Sam 15:22. I’ve learned to wait and to trust in him and when I do that my life has been an amazing journey. I have also been given many opportunities to be a witness and share my testimony to let folks know, that they too can receive these gifts of life.
So my map for right now is to complete and receive the “letters behind my name,” that Dr. Richard Twiss spoke over me in 2011 and to be prayerful and patient.
I do recognize a flurry of distractions coming my way, my injury in my knee, my father’s health scare and eventual passing, the grand children and their future.
I must say though whatever is out there for me has been prophesied by many and it will be great.
I’ll end with this from Psalms 3,
1My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
2For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
3Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
4So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
5Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
7Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
8It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
9Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase:
10So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
11My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:
12For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
Thank you so much for teaching us.
Jeri Sue Jimenez 8/15/2016
Benjamin Franklin Quote- https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/460142-if-you-fail-to-plan-you-are-planning-to-fail
Bible verses (I prefer King James Version.)
Philippians 4:6 – Be anxious about nothing
1Samuel 15:22- To obey is better than to sacrifice
Psalms 3- Lean not unto your own understanding.
I’ve done a lot of these MAPS goals as I’ve worked to increase exercise, lose weight ,study and focus on self-care. MAPS are the criteria for creating change, the acronym means: Measurable, Achievable, Positive and Specific.
I love this topic. I’ve been a socially and emotionally intelligent diverse leader here in Portland since 1994. During that time, I have met wonderful leaders like Dolores Huerta who worked with Cesar Chavez in the Farmworkers movement. She is a tiny woman, she is now 86 years old and she is the co-founder of the United Farm Workers, she is wise and so powerful! I danced with her in a club until late in the night. As younger organizers like me went home to bed, I guess she closed the club down.
In fact, I have met thousands of people of color and immigrant refugee leaders in the 22 years I have been an activist and community organizer and I have learned from the best. They possess what is now called “Emotional or Social Intelligence.” Like many other “Breakthroughs” that have been claimed by dominant society, who then wrote a book and trademarked the term,while the name is different, the practice is as old as the hills and twice as dusty.
One of the first leaders I met were my parents. They were a biracial couple who met in college and married in the 1950’s. That was a challenge all in itself. It was actually against the law for non-natives to married native people in the State of Oregon. They got married in Reno and had 6 kids. I’m number 4 in the birth order, sometimes referred to as the “lost child’. Birth order is often believed to have a profound and lasting effect on psychological development.
My father was the first member of the Klamath Tribe to go to school beyond the 6th grade. My parents met at Southern Oregon College. I see them both as leaders. They both became educators and their values and standards of life affected us all very deeply as well as the thousands of students and athletes they inspired.
The ability to inspire someone else is one of the traits of a socially intelligent leader. My parents also mentored kids and my dad coached kids as well. Athletes recognize athletes, my dad had experience in playing all these games, he was an all-around all-star in college and was offered a football contract. His stories inspired many young people to dig deeper and reach further.
One of the largest traits is to be a good listener and to have the skill of empathy. Those are 2 and 3. You don’t have to be homeless to have empathy for the homeless. Number 4 is that you have to know how to address people in many different ways. Coming from grassroots community organizing I was in culture shock when I came to work for Government. I was invited to apply for this job because of my skillset and the ability I had to maintain good relationships with a very large diverse group of people. I felt like a square peg in a round hole. I wondered why on earth did they want me? Was I supposed to become white? That was not in the job description and yet I knew God sent me here and it was my job to obey, which brings me to 3 other skills, stick-to-it-iveness, patience and tolerance. You can’t give up and if you are a good leader sometimes you have to put up with a lot of challenges. Every good leader I know experiences challenges. For me, I love puzzles, so these challenges became puzzles that I needed to figure out.
Trait number 8- you need to love people and they need to feel that you value them, if you don’t then you’re not their leader! You might not be a follower either- you’re just alone.
Number 9 is definitely one of the most important traits I know and when I think of Jesus I think of this. You must operate with humility. When you see or listen to a good leader it is as if I have been humbled and am extremely grateful at the same time. This person has blessed me with something special and by that point I’m in tears. I can’t begin to count how many times I have been there in that glorious place weeping tears of joy.
I’m not sure exactly how I explain number 10. I will start by saying a socially intelligent leader approaches people with respect and caring, but they also understand that in order to move anything forward, we must know that we are a part of something bigger then ourselves and that it is our responsibility to lead in this way.
Jesus was a leader and a messenger as was Moses. Jesus knew that plan and as painful as it was he chose to stick his neck out for the future of humanity. Many people do this in Portland on a daily basis. For the last 10 years I have developed and implemented a capacity building grant program based on teaching diverse and historically under represented people of color and immigrants and refugees. None of this work happened alone, it was created by managing groups of leaders from these constituencies to form and engage in these programs.
My program started being funded in 2006 with a grant for $70,000.00. The goal was to find one constituency who wanted to train their leaders in Civic Engagement. In the first year we ended up funding a partnership of organizations who split the grant 3 ways. In less than a year, there was a request to grow the program to allow more groups in as they were also interested in seeing their leaders learn also. Another $268,000.00 was allocated to reach out to groups the first funding didn’t cover and the Diversity and Civic Leadership Academies were born.
It is an amazing program, so amazing that it was awarded one of the Top 10 Innovations in American Government by the Ash Center at Harvard University.
We have graduated over 800 leaders of color and immigrant refugee leaders in 10 years and I have met incredible Portlanders who have come from all over the world. Many people were never given the opportunity to engage with their homeland Government, many times that would not be a safe thing to do. Here they are welcomed to come and learn and to make their communities more livable through organizing.
In 2015, I authored a 66-page report called “Engaging for Equity.” It can be found at this link,
There was a time in my life, up until I was about 35 that I was a victim of Human trafficking, DV, Addiction and gangs. I was a shy person, an introvert who had no self-esteem. It had been beaten out of me. Organizing changed my life forever and I had made a promise to God in 1989 as I was running down Milwaukee Avenue, half dressed, bleeding and being chased by someone who was willing to kill me for my little bit of money. I told him If he saved me I would serve him for the rest of my life and these are a few extra qualities that make a good leader, honesty and integrity. Over the last 8 years I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most voiceless people on the planet, Human trafficking survivors first co-founding a sisterhood of survivor leaders and then training federal officials on how to identify and better serve this population of the voiceless.
My life has placed me at the feet of many amazing leaders. I think when you see a good leader you should allow them to be an example of what you may want to add to your life.
Handout -Social intelligence and the biology of leadership by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatziz
As we destroy the earth, we are destroying ourselves. J. Williams 10/6/14
Our society’s vulnerability to natural hazards with a focus on my experience and needs.
From my first memories as a child I remember believing in God and always knowing he made nature and everything beautiful. I grew up in Oregon with five brothers and sisters and two parents who taught school. Every summer we camped and fished and swam in clean lakes and rivers and for the lack of a better word worshiped the creator or everything good.
I remember hanging out on my maternal grandmother’s farm every summer. Those grandparents in Yoncalla would today be a wonder of sustainability with their creeks, orchards, garden and cattle. Making butter and cream allowed them to barter with the neighbor next store for eggs and chickens. While these foods sustained their bodies both with sustenance and the incredible amount of work it took to grow and gather them keep them physically lean and fit. A body could use some blackberries in cream after doing all the picking the berries all over the hillside and the milking and prep work it took for such a delicious dish.
There wasn’t a lot of garbage either, everything had a second use. Scraps went into a bin for fertilizer, as did eggshells and coffee grounds. Paper containers were burned in the fireplace and jars once emptied of their deliciousness were cleaned and canned with some other wonderful fruit or vegetable. Everyone worked and everyone ate and because of that we all felt good. The little ones would take a little red wagon and walk up and down the mountain collecting cow pies for grandma to fertilize her garden doe a dime a bucket. The bigger ones would do harder work. We would all go home with baggies full of shiny coins so proud of ourselves.
None of my grandparents owned a computer or a cell phone, these things were before their time. I don’t know if my mom’s parents ever hand more than one phone. I know they had a party line meaning they shared a line with their neighbors not that they did any partying or even talking much on the phone.
Both of my grandmas had a very active social life. Both attended church a lot, my dad’s mom attended many different churches. It wasn’t until I was an adult right before she passed that she told me something I have never forgotten. She said she was 12 when she saw her first white person. She and her sister were sitting along a lake and when they saw this person they thought he was a ghost because they had never seen anyone that pale before. It was a missionary and they took her and her sister Helen to the Williamson River Indian Mission and they burned their tongues on radiators every time they spoke their language. I don’t think they ever forgot their first language but what an awful way to be forced to speak a different language was that? Still today when I hear some person saying to someone whose first language is not English like “This is America, speak American!” I get this twinge of hurt run through me. I’ve been on this earth for 53 years and while the pain is momentary, I don’t internalize it and let it ruin my day but it’s still there.
Both of my grandmothers had their challenges to deal with as women living in that century and for one as a woman of color. They both were great blessings to their families and their larger communities living with beliefs that mandated them to love others, do no harm to people or the environment and whenever they could, to do well. And they also gave birth to my parents and shared their worldviews and values with them. And my parents of course shared them with my siblings and myself.
When I came to work today I received an email from an environmentalist asking me to send a letter of support for the Portland City Council to pass the new Climate change plan for the City. I know this person as someone who has dedicated his whole life to restoring the areas nature and with that, the intrinsic value it holds. And despite the fact that 20 years ago I saw him as a very loud and pushy privileged white man I gravitated to that piece of him I could relate to. His love for the earth and keeping it healthy.
I’ve made a career for the last 20 years educating and developing leadership in those people in Portland with the least amount of voice.
Some may say they have the least amount of voice because they have the least amount of land, or money or possessions. Others may say that communities of color and immigrants and refugees and the homeless and victims of domestic violence have the least amount of intelligence.
While these assumptions are not true, some people benefit from continuing to spread them. What I will do with what I’ve learned in this class is add the knowledge I’ve gain to what already exists in my head. Almost 8 years ago I changed jobs from grassroots non-profit environmental justice work to Government work. The culture shock between these 2 jobs sent me to therapy.
As an activist I wasn’t what Coach described as activist on out first day i.e. “unintelligent people who are rude and loud and don’t know what they are talking about.” And while I do admit there are many out there who do fit the description of demonizing their adversaries and telling lies to attempt to win their case that not me. Those tactics turn me off as well. But many times it is not just compromise that needs to happen it is bringing the different issues together, these things that are many times seen as “False dichotomies” like “Jobs vs the Environment.” There is more than one truth and more than one set of values that need to be considered.
When it benefits us not to think of lessons we know from the past, like not wanting to pay our share for cleaning a river that we dirtied we forget them. When the benefits are monetary we like to say “the end justifies the means.” I got into this life of activism because I was a low wage woman worker of color being exposed to toxic chemicals that were making myself and my co-workers sick. I was one paycheck away from poverty and homelessness and was afraid to speak out. Who would care anyway?
I was off welfare living in subsidized housing and working every day, minding my own business keeping my nose clean and raise my kids and never let them be taken again. I had escaped years of DV and worse so should I just be grateful that I was working a job where the cleaning supplies were making our hands crack and bleed and we felt like we had some sort of forever flu? And yet what if I became so sick I wouldn’t be there for my kids?
There are a million reasons why people step out of their comfort zone and speak out for a more just way. For me, becoming an organizer gave me the opportunity to listen quietly to those reasons from hundreds of people dealing firsthand with injustice. Their reasons are always based in love and the desire to live and to make sure that even though this bad thing happened to them they didn’t want it to happen to someone else.
` From the very beginning of my journey for justice I knew about the importance of environmental science. We must all have a basic understanding of how this mixed with this causes this.
We have to know what poison is and at times we have to weigh out our values with the risk. In the US most the time the values are not determined by the people who will inevitably be the same as the person who is exposed to the risk. I honestly can’t know how any human being could think it would be ok that their actions to making them a profit pollutes someone else’s drinking water and makes it flammable, or causes earthquakes. Wouldn’t you stop if you knew your actions were causing this?
And yet it is the people in positions of power that are profiting from this action. It is those folks who don’t have to drink the poison water, who are not living with the earthquakes that are setting the value. They are the same groups who have enough money to pay for scientific reports to deny the realities of the others. Sometimes they are in political positions and they’ve never had to live through the horror of their children dying too young from being exposed to carcinogenic substances where they live, learn and play. Or having to move out of the only place they’ve ever called home because they are being forced off their land.
To complete the circle of what I’m saying is that there is the potential for justice and injustice in environmental science. I believe we could be happier if we reviewed the less than a century old lifestyles and implemented them today. I believe we can turn all those tax dollars that we give for destruction into recreation. We can all have a better life, we need to stop consuming so much and start living healthier lifestyles for all. We can do it through responsible science and political willingness.
This wooden plaque hangs in my living room, a gift from a friend, it says “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14King James Version (KJV)
God’s word is true, he is faithful and he cannot lie~ it is a good word for all to live by.
Justice Journal 4
More personal and not for the faint hearted.
You’re never given more than you can handle?
If you looked at these situations through the lens of a psychologist you could identify clearly the model of the dysfunctional family. There are 3 players in this model, the abuser, the enabler and the abused. Here historically the police are the abuser, the City and their policies and their union and its negotiated bargaining agreements enable the abused, or victim, child or survivor to be abused once through the initial assault and again through a broken system created to exonerate the abuser and further traumatize and damage the abused.
It’s the same model that occurs in sexual abuse to children. First is the initial crime and the threats that if you report it even worse things will happen. So when you get older with the damage still sitting in your soul and you have no insurance and no medicine and you end up medicating yourself you’re looked upon as less than a citizen of Portland and it is assumed that you chose to live this way and there so you are entitled to any treatment someone wants to give you because by now you yourself believe you are worthless and when you try to kill yourself and you don’t die you go back to medicating yourself again. And a small percentage of people succeed in their suicide attempts- over 200 in Portland last year. And a very large percentage get stuck in a vicious cycle of houselessness, hunger and no place to lay your head increases the depression and anxiety, and try to get help but the City you live in has a history of racist policies and doesn’t prioritize your ability to get the help you need . They don’t see that all these things are a human right. They don’t know that you sold your body to get food in your stomach or drugs to relieve the pain from a life of not being cared for in a way everyone should be cared for.
So you’ve become a person who needs to be dealt with but the issue is that the first responder is a person who was sent to deal with you, to remove you from the neighborhood or pick you up when you are alone and are acting strange because all of your hierarchy of needs as a human being, a child of the creator have not been met for a very long time. You could be angry or scared, exhausted or inebriated so when the police pick you up you’re not happy. And then you get the beat down, when you wake up in a cell with a knot on your head and a busted lip and contusions all over your body you blame yourself. And when someone who cares convinces you to stand up for your right you do it- not because you believe in the process but because someone who cares about you encourages you. You get interviewed by some cop over the phone who is supposed to interview you and instead interrogates you and you hang up because you are now triggered back to the traumatic experience, and the fact that the cop has no idea what he has just put you through, he has not had the training to speak to folks with mental illness and besides he already prejudged you, the odds are on his side and he belongs to a culture of “protect and serve”. What has always been in the back of your head is now reality~ it was never meant to “protect and serve you”. You the community member, Portlander, son, brother, father you all one hundred and five pounds of you hogtied and beaten with a spit sock over your head in the backseat of a patrol car until you were crying and begging for them to not kill you. The day before you were hanging out with your cousin, not a scratch July 9th, not only do you arrive in my office at City hall
Looking like a truck hit you but telling me you have to go to court because you were charged with harassment for spitting on the officer and when we get there we find the charges were dropped. I stupidly convinced you to stand up and fight for your rights not knowing how corrupt and dishonest the entire process. SIX months without hearing much of anything. With being told you could have a person to person interview which the interrogator refused to do despite the fact his supervisor told him to do. We received the letter with the decision from the Police that exonerated then Police. The fox said with feathers around his mouth and flesh in his teeth the he did not eat the chicken. I will never again in life tell someone to enter into this disempowering process ever again. It is designed to remove your rights from the word go and the abuser has all the rights and the enablers are in place to continue abusing the victim. What blows me away it that they act like they don’t see the inequity of this process and in fact are getting ready to get another 26 million taxpayers’ dollars to figure it out how not to do what they claim they are already not doing? And a Federal Judge is coming to hear from us Monday morning.
This stems out of the decision by the DOJ ruling a while back that said the Portland Police do not mistreat people of color more than the rest of the population but that they do have a problem with their treatment of the mentally ill. My 105 lb., Native American son suffers from intergenerational trauma, depression and PTSD. The police knew his history and dumped him unconscious and beaten on the floor of a cell. He received no medical attention because if they took him there it would be evident he needed care. And according to the police report that was fabricated after he filed his claim it states he came in with now injuries. Surprisingly there is no mug shot available for his July 9th arrest.
In conclusion, I would like to mention that there is another percentage group of folks with mental illness and oppression from being treated different as a person of color in Portland. It is the percentage that I belong to and they are the survivors and overcomer who somehow by the grace of creator. We are the ones who got help, got clean, got radicalized and when we did , we didn’t forget where we came from and turn back, not to look but to put out our hand to help others have what we have. We become activists and organizers and social workers, artists and advocates~ we wouldn’t have it any other way. Throughout this whole process with my son both IPR and the Police said “you can’t advocate for him- he has to do it himself. Knowing what I know both about the illness and Bullies is that Bully tactics allow abusers to stay abusers they know and we know it. I really don’t get how anyone see the existing process as fair. It can’t be fair being so one sided. It can’t be fair without dialog from both sides. You cannot repair a process looking through only one lens and you can’t achieve an equitable process in a silo. And you can’t expect people to know what they don’t know, they can’t decide their training needs in a bubble.
This attack on my son retriggered my own PTSD, anxiety and depression to a level of darkness I never thought I would ever go. It had me shaking so bad and crying that I missed a lot of work and had to file fmla to preserve my job. I was prescribed 3 additional drugs. Imagine, if you can that your child has been abused and his abuser was your co-worker and every day you were expected to walk into the belly of the beast whose policy protected the abusers and prevented you from getting Justice for the victim and that your own job there was to increase the voices that had historically gone unheard due to previous racist and exclusive policy, could you do it?
Justice journal 3
Jeri Williams –Mother, Grandmother, artist, writer, prayer warrior, enrolled member of the Klamath Tribe, activist, trainer, city employee
My name is Jeri Williams and I have lived in Portland for 25 years and was raised in Oregon. Throughout those years I have filed 2 formal complaints with the Police. The first was race based with Internal Affairs and at the end I was told the officer was given the highest level of discipline he could receive. This was in the mid-nineties when an officers screamed racial slurs at my 9 year old African American daughter and got right into my face yelling about Native people like me.
I didn’t want discipline~ I wanted change~ I wanted him to learn why what he did was wrong and how he didn’t have to repeat his mistakes. I didn’t want my children to grow up fearing the police.
The 2nd incident resulted in a letter of apology for the officers that neglected to write a report on threats from a pimp threatening to kill me for helping get a teenager away from him. The pimp was waiting at my front door with a gun. I went to the station and the police followed me home. I gave him the threatening note the pimp had left on my door. When the girl pointed him out sitting in a car down the street. They followed after him, he ditched the car and ran. While examining the car they found a pistol and pictures of child porn under his seat. He was a registered sex offender. He called me threatening me several times a day which I recorded. As I waited for 30 days to pass to get my stalking order I lived in fear, I had to send my kids away.
I went to court with my recordings and there was no police report, so I wasn’t able to get my order but the judge gave him a stern warning. Checking back with the police I found these two officers not only never wrote a report but they also lost the note I gave them for evidence. This time I took my complaint to the Mayor’s office and received a sorry note from the then Chief.
I was told later that the officers said they thought he was my pimp and because women always take them back they didn’t bother to write a report. Because of this I lost my right to obtain a stalking order from a very violent person.
Again, I’m not looking for discipline –were they ever even notified of how their actions put my children and I in danger?
When I first heard that the DOJ determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove their mistreatment against people of color but did find they had a problem treating the mentally ill I almost fell out of my seat. My husband and I had been pulled over several times for driving while colored. WE were searched always asked about drugs. What could we do? We lived in the hood. Some neighborhoods had beautiful parks or other amenities, we had cops everywhere. I’ve had friends beaten by the police, I’ve seen folks beat up beyond recognition, noses and arms broken mostly Black males from young teens to old men. But race isn’t an issue. I heard that not enough folk of color talked with the DOJ to prove race was an issue. Having folks come and snitch on the police with no witness protection program? That’s as bad as police that tell 13 year old victims of prostitution “you’re a victim if you turn in your pimp~ you’re a criminal if you don’t.” And yet they offer them no safety if they tell, no incentive even though they know this young victim has been brainwashed to believe she’ll be dead if she tells. What did the DOJ expect to hear? When they went around asking, what was their outreach strategy, what did they offer, did they realize our general mistrust of Government? Did they study the historical racist policies put in place to steal from the Indians and kill them and not allow other colors to live here? Did they feel the weird racism, latte liberal PCism that is Portland?
And yet on Monday morning at 9am we are going to decide if we are going to give 26 mil for them to work on this.
The accountability for this effort is two-fold. First there must be a process in place that is agreed to by both sides to have integrity, honesty and true independence and not the current situation. History has always taught us that when the fox guards the henhouse the chickens get sacrificed. Secondly, we must recognize that this is tax payers’ money and should not be wasted and it should be accounted for understanding the seriousness of our goals for correction.