The controversy over a now-canceled Trader Joe’s store at MLK and Northeast Alberta has hit the big time. Conan O’Brien took a jab at it Tuesday night in his opening monologue.
“In Portland, Oregon, a group of African Americans are protesting a Trader Joe’s because they say it will attract too many white people,” O’Brien said, “which is ironic because Portland is the Native American word for too many white people.”
Trader Joe’s pulled out of the deal a few days ago. The Oregonian says local African American leaders blasted the Portland Development Commission as much for the process that resulted in the proposed development as for the store itself. The Portland African-American Leadership Forum’s letter to the PDC never said the store would “attract too many white people,” but it did demand that the property benefit the historically black neighborhood and that affordable housing be part of any future development.
The neighborhood has changed dramatically since the ’90s, when three-quarters of the people there were African American. By 2010 that number had dropped to only one-quarter.