The discussion around a culture of sexism, misogyny, and harassment in the Capitol must also address the intersection of race and the institutional culture of racism. It is important that we believe women and survivors of sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace. It is equally as important that we take an intersectional approach in rooting out all forms of harassment, hate and misconduct.
It is remarkable that BOLI, an agency charged with protecting the civil rights of Oregonians, would further a racially-motivated, defamatory smear about me. It also defies logic that in the course of the investigation conducted that they never asked to speak with me about my experiences – which have included racism, bullying, threats and harassment by those who started and fueled the smear to silence me after my strong stances on civil and immigrant rights. Instead, the report published hearsay and gossip about me and subsequently the media reported the gossip and hearsay, playing right into the hands of those who sought to target and harass me. The agency meant to protect my civil rights, ironically perpetuated the harassment and racism I experienced and re-triggered the traumas from those experiences.
Sexual harassment, sexism, misogyny, transphobia, racism and all isms must end. We can’t just focus on gender and whiteness, we must also have a racial equity lens and an analysis that includes different intersectional and multidimensional identities. I believe that there is a lot of work that remains to be done to ensure that the Oregon Capitol is a safe and healthy environment for everyone. We must end this culture of harassment and be proactive and swift in our efforts to rid the Capitol of this toxic working environment.
-Rep. Diego Hernandez, MSW