By Tonya Jones
I was shocked last week as I scrolled my Facebook newsfeed and saw farewell comments to
Carmen Anderson. What?! As I read further, my fears where confirmed. Carmen had passed
away a couple of days before. I stared at the screen in disbelief.
I meet Carmen a few years ago. I was taking post-back classes at Portland State University
(PSU). At the time Carmen was working as a graduate student at PSU’s Women’s Resource
Center (WRC). She was the Empowerment Project Coordinator. One of her roles was to lead
workshops for the group “The Sister Circle.” It was an opportunity for women of color students
on campus to get together and network. I attended one meeting and liked Carmen right away.
She was blunt and funny and always had her cute daughter with her.
A year later, I found myself applying for Carmen’s position as she prepared to graduate with
her Master’s degree. The WRC decided to open the job up as an AmeriCorps position. Carmen
encouraged me to apply. After a couple of months of the interview process…I did get hired as
the next Empowerment Project Coordinator. Carmen gave me all her contact numbers. She said
to call her at any time if I ever needed support or help with my new job. She also wrote me a
letters of recommendations for scholarships (as I prepared for graduate school).
It’s hard to believe Carmen is gone. After she graduated from PSU, Carmen decided to try her
hand at a lifelong dream…to be a comedienne. She soon began performing at local clubs in
Portland (often wearing her signature boa) and became a big hit. I had the opportunity to see
her a couple of times to see her work the stage. She was great. You could tell she had found her
Carmen passed away after struggling with cancer. She had created a one woman show “Helloooo
Cancer” a few years ago, tackling the serious issue with her warm comedy. I had hoped to
interview Carmen for a zine. Carmen was just one of another Black woman comedienne (Rissa
Ris) in Portland. I had wanted to hear her thoughts on being a woman of color performer in a
genre that tends to be dominated by men.
I will miss Ms. Carmen.
The Carmen T. Anderson Memorial Fund has been established for the support of Carmen's
children, Derric and Mae Gayle. Donations can be made at the memorial event or via any
OnPoint Credit Union branch or the PSU Women's Resource Center.
Broadous Entertainment and Blackstar Comedy Productions is having their first All Black
Comedy Line Up on July 27th at 8pm. it will be at Vertigo Theatre on 34th/SE Belmont. Carmen
Trineece will be a part of the show and a portion of the proceeds will go to her children's trust