Guest Blog Post by Natasha Luepke, Chehalem Cultural Center Arts Programs Assistant
WE ARE OREGON: BLACK HISTORY MONTH
An Interview with Bryce Coefield
1. How would you like me to describe you — eg “Bryce Coefield, Newberg City Councilor” or something else?
Hi! My name is Bryce Coefield (he/him), and there are many identities I hold and ways in which I describe myself. The most salient ones (in no particular order) are: father, life-partner, Friend, seeker of liberation, Christ follower, City councilor, Ph.D. Candidate, and Lakers fan.
2. Do you prefer the term Black, African-American, or something else?
I identify, and prefer Black.
3. What do you like about living in Oregon?
Coming from Los Angeles, I LOVE the vastly reduced amounts of traffic! Lol I also really like the seasons. I mean this literally and figuratively. Quite literally the seasons are beautiful. Fall, for example, brings some of the most beautiful colors on trees I didn’t even know excited until moving here. Figuratively, I believe the seasons also bring changes of pace to life. Coming from Los Angeles where it’s seemingly always sunny, life felt like go-go-go all the time. I love the “shifting of gears” that comes with changing seasons.
4. What’s a piece of Black culture you think everyone should experience? (Movie, food, book, etc).
Oooo this is a really interesting question. Black culture is incredibly rich and diverse and while there are lots of movies, books, food, etc. that I think folks should experience I am going to go a different direction. To me I think everyone should experience/engage in Sankofa. Sankofa is a metaphorical concept used by the Akan people of Ghana. It is represented by a bird with it’s neck craned back retrieving an egg. It symbolizes a sacred journey of going back into one’s histories and legacies and retrieving what has been lost or forgotten. This journey of reclamation allows for a moving forward that is informed by the wisdom and experiences of ancestors and those who have come before us.
5. What do you wish people knew about the Black experience?
I wish people knew that the Black experience is incredibly diverse. As Chimimanda reminds us, there is no single story of Blackness. We are fully human. Yes, there are particular manifestations of racism as anti-blackness that require unique forms of resilience and power in the Black community. AND we are human. Our humanity requires a recognition of the multiple intersecting identities we hold, and the richness of our human experience. Often times, especially during Black history month, dominant narratives about the Black experience are preoccupied with stories of slavery & the civil rights movement. While of course these are parts of our history, the underlying assumption is that Black folks only exist in relation to white power structures, and that just not true.
6. Anything else you’d like to share!
Thank you for the opportunity to share some of my thoughts :)
Bryce is also the co-founder of Brave Space Consulting, which educates organizations and institutions about racial diversity and equity.
ABOUT ‘WE ARE OREGON’
The Chehalem Cultural Center believes that understanding other cultures makes us more tolerant, and diversity makes our experiences richer and that learning about cultural and historical origins is the best way to understand who we are now, and in the future preserve what’s best. As Oregonians, we share so many things: a love for the outdoors, an appreciation for diversity, a spirit of tolerance and inclusiveness, a commitment to justice. No matter where we were born, the color of our skin, or who we love, we are all Oregonians.
Each month, the CCC will highlight a segment of Oregon’s population. By sharing our history and culture with one another, we can build a beautiful future. See the full exhibit in the Founders’ Lobby or enjoy highlights online! Tell us about yourself in our survey.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR—NATASHA LUEPKE
Natasha Luepke grew up in Georgia and attended college in Nebraska before making a home in Oregon. She enjoys bringing her background in education, history, and literature to her work at the Chehalem Cultural Center as the Arts Programs Assistant. She currently lives in Newberg with her husband and four cats.