Today is the last day of Black History Month, and I want to use the opportunity to encourage US poker players—and those of us in Portland, particularly—to give themselves a little credit for being one of the unrecognized melting pots of American society.
Historically, Portland (and Oregon) has been a racially un-diverse city, one of the least-diverse in the nation. Only about one out of four residents isn’t white (less than one in five statewide). In a lot of places in town, you don’t see many African-Americans. They’re outnumbered even by residents and citizens of Hispanic and Asian ethnic origins.
But if you go into any of the poker rooms on either side of the Willamette, you’d never know how white it was outside, I’ve lived in Portland since 1987, and I can honestly say that even though I lived for several years with a woman who grew up in Compton, I’ve never brushed up against as many people of varying ethnicities as I have the past five years of playing in the city’s poker clubs.
That’s not to say that there aren’t racist remarks made at the tables or that everyone playing poker in Portland is some sort of “love thy neighbor” do-gooder. No, it’s just people. But they’re people who ignore their differences for a higher purpose: taking each other’s money. And really, isn’t that as good a reason as any?