Oregon Bill would make it easier to remove racist language from acts

  • A bill in the Oregon state legislature would make it easier to remove racist language from home records.
  • A version of the bill passed in 2018 was criticized for not completely removing the language.
  • Local residents who testified in support of the bill said they were uncomfortable signing documents with racist language.

A bill introduced in the Oregon legislature last month would make it easier for homeowners to remove racist and discriminatory language in deeds, many of which date back over 100 years.

The law was introduced last month and a public hearing on the bill was held this week. It is the second attempt at a bill with that intended purpose, as a passed 2018 version was criticized for being inefficient and not getting rid of language entirely, KPVI reported.

The new bill would create an archive for old versions of property documents so they could be fully replaced with new versions that do not contain the offensive language, KVAL reported.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that the offensive clauses were used by developers in the early 1900s to ban people of color from their neighborhoods.

“No Negro, Chinese or Japanese shall own or occupy property in this neighborhood unless they are laborers or servants,” reads a clause in a deed discovered by a real estate agent in 2018, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

While the language can no longer be legally enforced because of the Fair Housing Act passed in 1968, residents who testified for this week’s hearing said they were not comfortable signing documents using the language.

“The distinction I would make is that the racially restrictive language that remains in these documents is not just a lingering racial stigma, it is a legal document that will require my signature if I want to buy my home,” he wrote Oregon resident Gerrit Koepping in his testimony.

He continued: “I am adding my name to a statement about horrible racism. Not only do I do that, but also the people who buy my house from me and the people who buy their house from you. This language of racial hatred will last forever.”

Koepping told The Oregonian that he and his wife were stunned to find a clause banning people of color from owning real estate in their neighborhood while signing documents for the house they bought in 2018.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Daniel Nguyen, said at the hearing that the legislation is not a legal requirement that every racist clause be found and removed, but it is an option for homeowners who want to remove the language from documents that associated with them at home, reported KPVI.

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