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An Oregon activist has created a 'Reparations Happy Hour,' asking white people to donate money — as a symbolic gesture — to be doled out to people of color.
'Reparations Happy Hour' creator Cameron Whitten, 27, of Portland, Oregon, threw the inaugural event on May 21 at local bar Backyard Social.
The event's invitation, which was shared on social media, stipulated 'Reparations for black, brown and indigenous people. Paid for by whites folks.'
The 'Reparations Happy Hour' was thrown by local Portland, Oregon, activist group Brown Hope. About 40 people were said to have attended and more than 100 people donated money
According to event organizers, $10 cash would be given out to attendees as 'reparations,' paid for in part by the donations of white people who were specifically not invited to attend the happy hour.
'White people can show up and support by GIVING reparations. Instead of physically attending, your presence will be felt through your active financial support for healing, leadership, and community building within Portland’s black, brown, and indigenous community,' the events listing stated.
Local activist Cameron Whitten, 27, of Portland, Oregon, is the brains behind the 'Reparations Happy Hour'
'It was only $10, but when I saw them I saw their eyes light up,' Whitten told the New York Times. 'What I saw there was that people felt like they were finally seen.'
Forty people attended the happy hour, which was thrown by local activist group, Brown Hope, according to The Oregonian.
Whitten also tapped seven white people to help defend the event against any potential interference from alt-right groups in the area.
The desire to limit the happy hour's attendees to people of black, brown and indigenous descent was based on the notion of creating an 'intentional' and safe space for them.
While $10 might not seem like much in reparations — the idea that money should be given to black people for generations of trauma suffered and the continuing impact of slavery — it's just meant to be a symbolic gesture.
'How often do we actually recognize and acknowledge someone's suffering? We're so used to being denied any sort of justice that $10 is a respite,' Whitten said.
The $10 in reparations were meant to be a symbolic gesture, acknowledging the suffering of people of color, according to the event's creator
Interest in May's happy hour has led organizers to plan a second happy hour to be held in June
The 'Reparations Happy Hour' was met with skeptical reactions on social media
Although the 'Reparations Happy Hour' was warmly received by those who attended, the event was met with skepticism on social media, with people taking umbrage over the seemingly flippant association with the idea of reparations.
'This belittles the whole argument for reparations. It’s not a joke or a happy hour. It’s a legitimate demand of an oppressed people who were ENSLAVED,' wrote @MsChaunceyKR on Twitter.
'What in special hell,' wrote tweeter @Keedinah. 'Reparations Happy Hour? Really?? How about addressing inequalities in pay, housing and education? You know, something that'll make a meaningful difference. How about stop shooting/arresting us for just going about our business trying to live our best life?'
Whitten said that more than 100 people — white and non-white people alike — donated money for the 'Reparations Happy Hour' and that it would become a regular event.
A second happy hour is being planned for June 20 at Portland bakery Back to Eden, where, in early May, a black woman was apparently denied service after closing time, even though bakery employees continued to serve several white people who also entered the establishment after closing. The two employees were since fired.