Monica Salazar

Monica Salazar is a writer and journalist interested in amplifying stories from immigrant and marginalized communities. For the past two years she has volunteered for the Portland based nonprofit The Immigrant Story, and is working as writer and producer for its podcast, Many Roads to Here.


The sound of dance across borders

"The Way Out," Portland violinist and composer Joe Kye’s latest single, brings dance, Zoom, and social justice together to address the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border

It all started last Spring in a Zoom meeting. Joe Kye, a Portland violinist and vocalist, listened with perked ears as high school student Diego Garita described his vision of creating a dance piece that would tell the story of the current crisis at the United States-Mexico border. 

“I knew immediately I wanted to work with him,” recalls Kye. 

Composer, violinist, and vocalist Joe Kye. Photo: Jason Sinn

The two were on the Zoom call as a part of a program run by New York City’s Young Dancemakers Company, an organization that pairs professional composers like Kye with high school students in New York to collaborate and produce original dance pieces. In the past, only composers based in New York participated, but with the pandemic Kye was able to join from across the country. 


Telling Oregon’s Hawaiian story

'DISplace,' a new virtual exhibition at Five Oaks Museum, explores the long history of the Hawaiian diaspora in the Pacific Northwest

Why are you where you are now? What history shaped you into the person you are today? 

Five Oaks Museum in Washington County has launched DISplace, a new digital exhibition exploring what these questions of personal and communal history mean to the Pacific Northwest’s seldom-recognized Hawaiian diaspora, which extends back as far as 1787, when the first Hawaiian, a woman named Waine’e, came to Nootka Sound, British Columbia, on a merchant ship. The exhibition opened on Thursday, Nov. 12, and will continue online through June 2021.

Following the first contact, a steady stream of Hawiian laborers came to the Pacific Northwest to work in the booming fur trade, logging industry, and in building the infrastructure of new towns developing in the region. Today, the driving forces bringing Hawaiians to the Pacific Northwest are better educational opportunities and cheaper cost of living as housing prices continue to increase in Hawai’i.

DISplace curators Lehuauakea (left) and Kanani Miyamoto.

DISplace curators Lehuauakea and Kanani Miyamoto, mixed Native Hawaiian artists, find themselves in the Pacific Northwest for some of these reasons. Both have spent nearly 10 years in Oregon, and the two have had to  grapple with finding a sense of belonging, place, and identity while being members of a diasporic community whose history has been largely ignored.


Reckoning, and walking, with Portland’s past

In the 1960s Kent Ford helped found the city's Black Panther Party. Now he leads walking tours of the Albina District, linking past and future.

“I can’t tell you where we are going,” Mr. Kent Ford proclaimed while walking down the streets of North Portland’s Albina District followed by an attentive tour group, “but I can tell you where we’ve been.” 

Mr. Ford, 77, moved into Portland’s Albina District in 1961, when it was the heart of Portland’s Black community. In the ’60s he was a founder of the city’s Black Panther Party. Now he serves as a link between Black Portland’s past, present, and future, keeping alive what’s happened and teaching new generations through his walking tours.

We don’t always get the chance to engage history in the more intimate sense. More often than not we go about acknowledging history’s constant knocking on our front doors by sitting in a classroom or reading books and news stories. 

Mr. Kent Ford, bringing the history home. Photo: Brandon Chadney

Sometimes, though, we are lucky enough to experience history in the more intimate way— to not just acknowledge it, but also to open our doors and invite it into our home. When we invite history in, often by visiting hallowed grounds or listening to someone share stories about surviving a historic time, we invite an emotional connection with the past, not just an intellectual one.