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My Turn

by Dmae Roberts

From The Asian Reporter, V29, #24 (December 16, 2019), page 6.

Holiday picks

While growing up, my family’s idea of enjoying holiday events was to go shopping at a discount store. Because we were isolated in a small Oregon town, there really weren’t community gatherings we felt welcome to attend. Luckily in Portland, there are many ways to spend time during the holidays, with some even offering free or low-cost tickets. Below are some cultural events I recommend that are friendly for people of color.

December 16 — I always want to support arts events by the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO). Its new show, Oh Brother, Mother!, features two young men, a Nepali and Vietnamese, who perform a show written by IRCO’s Asian Immigrant & Refugee Youth Council (AIR-YC). Through the hidden stories of their mothers, the two friends take the audience on a journey discovering heritage, identity, and the immigration experience. Described as a play about "bromance and strong women," the show also includes famous Asian musical numbers and original artwork by Asian youth in Portland. It takes place at Milagro Theatre (525 S.E. Stark Street, Portland) on December 16 at 7:00pm and tickets are only $5 (proceeds benefit AIR-YC). To learn more, visit <>.

December 19 — Another IRCO event is "Wax and Gold," a visual poem of a film hosted by Stumptown Coffee. In the spring of 2019, Stumptown, the Farm League, and director Britton Caillouette travelled to Ethiopia to learn about the country’s history as the origin of coffee and the birthplace of humanity. The short film weaves a narrative portrait of Ethiopia through shared histories and traditions as well as interviews with coffee producer Haile Gebre and jazz icon Mulatu Astatke. A suggested donation of $5 is collected at the door with proceeds benefitting IRCO. The 30-minute film is shown every half hour between 6:00pm and 9:00pm at the Clinton Street Theater (2522 S.E. Clinton Street, Portland).

December 21 — Indigenous Come Up is hosting a Portland Indigenous Marketplace for last-minute shoppers from 2:00pm to 7:00pm at the Leaven Community Center (5431 N.E. 20th Avenue, Portland). In addition to vendors selling indigenous-made and -designed art, crafts, and jewelry, the event also includes free face painting, storytelling, and music. The marketplace is open to the public. The direct entrance to the marketplace (with stairs) is located on the corner of 20th and N.E. Killingsworth Street; the ADA-accessible entrance is on N.E. 20th close to the parking lot. To learn more, visit <>.

Below are some holiday plays I suggest readers attend. Many theatres offer "rush" tickets, which are available at lower prices usually 10 minutes before the start time of the show, and most Portland theatres participate in $5 "Arts For All" tickets for low-income attendees. In addition, a majority of theatres accept volunteers to usher their shows. To find out about discounted ticket options, visit <>.

Through December 22 — Maya Malán-Gonzalez’s A Xmas Cuento Remix, a modern-day Latinx take on the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, is currently playing at Milagro Theatre (525 S.E. Stark Street, Portland). The world premiere of the new adaptation casts a Latina as the Scrooge character who finds redemption through visits from three ghosts from the past, present, and future to reunite her with her family and make positive change. It also features plenty of fun bilingual holiday songs. The show takes place Thursday through Sunday. To buy tickets, call (503) 236-7253 or visit <>.

Through December 29 Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, is a reimagining of the Bennet sisters in 1815, two years after the end of Pride and Prejudice. The racially diverse cast highlights sisters who are black, Asian, and white, and stars Portland favorite actress Lauren Modica, who is delightful as Mary, the most neglected sister in the original book. If you’d like to see Mary finally receive attention and find love, as well as enjoy costume comedy, this is a holiday treat. Check out ticket specials and discounts at <>.

Through January 5Matilda the Musical, based on the book by famed children’s author Roald Dahl, is lighting up the stage at the Northwest Children’s Theater (NWCT). The smash hit musical has a racially diverse cast of young female students who learn how to empower themselves amid villainous adults. NWCT always puts kids first in their productions and the play is family friendly. Shows begin at noon and 4:30pm. There is an American Sign Language interpreted show on December 21 at noon, and on the same day at 4:30pm there is an audio described show for blind and visually impaired attendees. To learn more, or to buy tickets, call (503) 222-2190 or visit <>.

I hope you are able to take a night off from Netflix and Prime Video to attend some of these events. Happy holidays!

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Opinions expressed in this newspaper are those of the
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