From “Indigenous Peoples Day,” to facing the truth about the Thanksgiving Day lie, white Americans are seeing their comfortable lies undermined. From our textbooks to our churches, the lies and twisted truth permeate our culture as Minnesota nice lives on. What will it take to turn around Minnesota’s growing racist problem?
As I am finishing my first semester here at Minnesota State University, Mankato, I have had my eyes opened, not to a better reality, but to a different breed of the same old enemy: racism. As a “ranger,” I have seen most of that racism directed at collegiate male athletes and their interaction with white females. In a recent case in Hibbing, we saw it directed at high school students by a white teacher. In the Duluth public school district, we have seen 75 percent of all disciplinary action directed at 15 percent of students, mainly those of color. This in a school system that somehow can’t seem to retain a teacher of color. Amidst this backdrop, we have a difficult time getting politicians to even recognize these things as problems in our white dominated culture.
I had hoped to find south central Minnesota a bit better adjusted, but the reality isn’t better, just different. I recently learned from a fellow student who is looking at a run for local school board that Mankato is now engaged in a very old form of segregation. When told about the housing projects in Mankato that are being built to segregate people of color, I likened it to the Chicago racist housing projects, and she responded, “Exactly.”
In digging deeper, I find that an active effort was made to bring many of these immigrants here. Mostly out of the concerns and needs of the local farming community for cheap labor, labor that local white people no longer are willing to do.
It doesn’t stop there but gets much worse as I hear of employers who are not even obligated to provide basic work place safety for their workers. Furthermore, many of these workers may be “sentenced to serve” county prisoners. These employers and the county may be using intimidation and threats to keep these workers from complaining about these horrific conditions. Then I hear about states like Texas, who are actively moving their poor and criminal population to Minnesota via state vouchers. I thought we had stopped this ignorance about 20 years ago when Mississippi was doing it, yet not a word is said about these things by local legislation.
In digging deeper, I find that the local county Sheriff’s departments have adapted their own versions of the “Minnesota prison quota system,” being practiced statewide to keep Minnesota’s Prison Industrial Complex alive and well for our well-paid public employee unions. State legislator Jack Considine told me that local arrest rates only look racist. He explained that it is because they are targeting out of state drug dealers, not local people of color. OK, then where are the figures to support this?
In digging deeper, I find that the local county Sheriff’s departments have adapted their own versions of the Minnesota prison quota system, being practiced statewide to keep the Minnesota’s Prison Industrial Complex alive and well for our well-paid public employee unions.
Talks with local state legislators strongly suggest an unacceptable level of ambivalence on these racial issues, including but not limited to, an absolute refusal to recognize any wrong doing by police. For these reasons, and so many more, next semester and its political caucuses will again provide a venue for change. Will you be there to help make change finally happen?