Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The theme for Black History Month this February has been African Americans and The Arts. I have really appreciated this theme because Black history is vital to our understanding of our county and nation and our ongoing struggle for equity and justice. The arts are also vital to how humans experience the world and communicate about that experience to and with each other. Through the visual, literary, and performing arts, people can communicate what is beautiful, painful, mundane, and fantastic about our world - often all at once. I hope this Black History Month has been an invitation for you to connect with the arts, explore the contributions of Black artists, and continue that connection throughout the year.     

One of the Black artists I have learned from since I was in my 20s is Audre Lorde. Lorde described herself as a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” She dedicated her life to addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. I wanted to share with you one of her best known poems, in case you haven’t read it for awhile or it is new to you.

A Litany for Survival

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children’s mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours;
For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.
And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid
So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive.

Wishing you connection with history and the arts throughout the year,

Jennifer McGuirk
Multnomah County Auditor

Apply to serve on the Board’s Audit Committee

Audit Committee 2024

We have an open seat on the Board of County Commissioners’ Audit Committee; apply through March 15 to serve on the committee. The Audit Committee's work is focused on the county's annual financial reports. The committee is a liaison to the Board of County Commissioners, county management, and the external financial auditor. The committee usually meets twice per year. Please note that this particular committee is not advisory to my office, but my office staffs the committee and I serve on it in a non-voting capacity.

You can submit your application here.

Recommendation Status Evaluation Pandemic Response Contact Tracing
Photo credit: Motoya Nakamura

County needs to complete recommendation related to reassigning workers during disasters

My office regularly follows up on the status of our recommendations to help keep government accountable to you. This month we published a report about the status of recommendations from our 2022 audit of COVID-19 contact tracing. We found that the county needs to complete five recommendations related to working with community-based organizations and to reassigning county workers during disasters. You can read the report here.

Internship Openings: College to County Program

Multnomah County College to County Internship Program

We're hiring 2 interns in the Multnomah County Auditor’s Office! The College to County (C2C) Program provides professional development for college students from underrepresented communities and first-generation college students with paid summer internships. There are a range of possible projects, including working on already planned projects and may have some flexibility to tailor projects to match interests or provide opportunities to develop specific skills.

The C2C internships opportunities are:
- Communications & Engagement Intern
- Ombudsperson Community Engagement Intern

For more information and or submit your application here

Community Engagement: Celebrating Oregon's Cultural Traditions and Understanding Remembrance

Photo: On February 17, Portland Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) hosted "Threads of Remembrance" at Portland State University, with a panel of redress activists, including moderator Mira Shimabukuro, the first person on the left, and panel members left to right, Peggy Nagae, Frank Abe, and Chisao Hata.

On February 3, I attended the Chinese New Year Cultural Fair at the Oregon Convention Center. I was fortunate to follow behind the dragon as it entered the fair and was inspired to join with so many others to recognize the enduring traditions of Chinese New Year. It was a joyful time as families gathered to welcome a new year of good fortune, health, and an expanding wisdom.

2024 Chinese New Year Cultural Fair
Photos left and right, 2024 Chinese New Year Cultural Fair hosted by Oregon Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA), at the Oregon Convention Center.

Raymond De Silva, Constituent Relations and DEI Engagement Specialist, and I attended Threads of Remembrance: 45 Years of Activism, Community, and Reparations, which commemorated the first Portland Day of Remembrance 45 years ago. At that first Portland Day of Remembrance, community members came together to publicly recognize the 125,000 Japanese Americans who were incarcerated in the U.S. during World War II and call for redress. Redress activists Frank Abe, Chisao Hata, and Peggy Nagae, along with moderator Mira Shimabukuro, shared their recollections from organizing the first Portland Day of Remembrance and the threads that continue as they continue to fight for civil rights.

Portland Art Museum Black Artists of Oregon gallery
Black Artists of Oregon exhibit at Portland Art Museum featuring "Isis", mixed media textile art by former Portland artist Charlotte Lewis (1934 - 1999) who was influenced by Egyptian symbolism and her African roots.

This month, Mical Yohannes, Management Auditor and Raymond De Silva, Constituent Relations and DEI Engagement Specialist viewed firsthand the Black Artists of Oregon exhibit at the Portland Art Museum. It was curated by Intisar Abioto to be "grounded in Black American practices of listening, keeping, and passing on each others' stories." The exhibit features 69 Black artists and 200 objects. The diverse intergenerational Black art gallery will be available for viewing until March 31.

If you’d like me and or staff to attend or speak at a meeting with your community group, simply fill out this form.