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Why Minneapolis

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This is a great piece, interviewing five different scholars and activists, about the racist history of policing in Minneapolis and just the racism there in general. There’s so much one could pick out of this for an excerpt. Here’s one good part.

Taiyon J. Coleman, assistant professor of English literature at St. Catherine University in St. Paul: After I moved to the state, I wrote an essay, “Disparate Impacts: Moving to Minnesota to Live Just Enough for the City,” which appeared in the anthology “A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota.” At the end of the essay, I say, “There are Confederate flags everywhere, even if you can’t see them.” That’s what I would say about Minnesota. There are good people here. It’s a good place to live: There are parks, and recreation, and this notion of public interest for the public good. But there’s this undercurrent of Minnesota niceness that is very homogenized. You see that in housing, in education, in employment, in net wealth, in incarceration — we have the largest racial disparities in the nation. And with those disparities, there’s a culture that people don’t want to look at it.

You can’t imagine how frustrating it is. I have all the degrees, all the things that U.S.A. society has said I need to have in order to access citizenship — what I loosely call whiteness, because whiteness is a constructed identity — but that is still never enough. That still never protects you. And that’s what the paradox is. You’ve achieved all this, and you have these things, but it doesn’t make you safe. Even with my privilege, I still don’t have access to that.

Green: People are surprised by the depth of anger and grievance when a police officer abuses an African American or kills an African American and there’s a human cry in the community. Many people in Minnesota and even in Minneapolis are surprised at the intensity of the anger. What that tells me is that to a large extent, even though this is, for the most part, a progressive/liberal city, it’s also a city in which the races live in parallel universes. It is possible for white people to have no contacts at all with blacks unless they have kids in the schools, or at my university, or they’re in the military, or prison.

Kirsten Delegard, co-founder of Mapping Prejudice, which tracks racial housing covenants in Minneapolis: In the early part of the 20th century, Minneapolis was not trying to market itself as a model progressive metropolis. It was quite the opposite: In 1946, the city was named the “anti-Semitism capital of the United States.” It actually had a profound reputation for intolerance, and there was a very powerful group here that brutally repressed all labor organizing.

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