Racism in Minnesota

We have to stop lying about Minnesota. We love to brag about our exceptional high school graduation rates, our overall good health, our low unemployment, but “our” success is almost exclusively white. Every time we fail to acknowledge that our state reliably churns out some of the worst racial disparities in health, education, employment, and wealth, we are dehumanizing People of Color.

We are not alone in our neglect. The US set the standard from the beginning. Men enriched by slavery unironically decreed a land of Liberty, and we still largely ignore that hypocrisy. We idealize Westward Expansion, made possible only through Native American genocide. Our White WWII veterans built the suburbs and the middle class with the GI Bill, while Black soldiers were redlined out of property ownership and excluded form most educational opportunities. When we count these White victories as American victories, we are saying that People of Color are not Americans.

When we do not distinguish White wellbeing from overall Minnesota wellbeing, we affirm that Black Lives, Native Lives, Brown Lives don’t matter. They are rendered so invisible that a police officer can kill George Floyd on camera without any apparent fear of punishment.

An imposing amount of work must be done to dismantle our racist systems, but we won’t change what doesn’t need fixing. The press and all well-intentioned White Minnesotans have to start telling the truth about this broken state if we ever hope to live up to our myths. Rebuilding our community is not just about businesses and services. We need to construct a different, honest story about what we are, and then work to change that.

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