World AIDS Day

Living with HIV before Charlie Sheen’s disclosure

As someone who has lived with HIV for more than 15 years, I decided to do my #livingwithhiv Twitter session again because of Charlie Sheen and his recent disclosure. His doing so brought out all of the ignorance and judgment people have around HIV, namely his drug use and his sexual life. Continue Reading

Rally goers and striking workers do a cheer before entering Minneapolis City Hall, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. Photo by David Pierini

With 82% support for $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis, is it time to bypass City Hall?

The majority of the Minneapolis City Council is out of step with the people of the city. Led by Council President Barb Johnson, the majority say they can’t imagine a $15 per hour minimum wage for Minneapolis. Compare that to the 82 percent (poll) of likely voters who think $15 is a good idea, according to a recent polling performed by SEIU of likely voters in Minneapolis. Continue Reading

Board members of the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota along with Rep. Betty McCollum (center) at her office in St. Paul.

MN Congresswoman to share Tibet trip story with Tibetans in Minnesota

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), one of the U.S. congressional delegation members who visited Tibet early this month is scheduled to share her Tibet trip story with the Tibetans in Minnesota some time this coming January.

Briefly speaking to the board members of the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota on Nov. 25 at her office in St. Paul, Minnesota, the U.S. congress woman said that she particularly urged the Chinese leaders not to “interfere” in the Tibetan religious tradition of reincarnations. Continue Reading

4th precinct

Minneapolis lacks political will to provide security for all

Sunday marked the killing of yet another unarmed Black man, Jamar Clark, at the hands of the police. This time it happened right here in Minneapolis, a city becoming increasingly divided along racial lines due to some of the nation’s largest racial gaps in employment, income, housing, education, and arrests, which has created significantly polarized realities between privileged whites and persecuted people of color. Such racial dynamics are indicative of an old master/slave relationship, making current conditions perfect for an enormous racial clash. That is, unless our elected officials can find the political will to provide relief to its suffering communities of color and prevent our city from going to hell. Over the past few months leaders from Minneapolis’ Black and Brown communities, in partnership with labor, have been developing a platform of policies that would address the city’s economic apartheid. Continue Reading

Budget Priorities

The slave patrol in the classroom

No sooner had the National Rifle Association and its congressional servants raised the call to place armed cops in every school, than videos began to surface of Black students thrown, dragged and beaten by “school resource officers” for such offenses as refusing to put down their phone or getting a drink of water during assembly. While not all schools have armed cops, the trend toward criminalizing childhood for dark children has been in motion for some time. Calling in the cops has become an accepted school response to temper tantrums, arguments and other minor forms of acting out. Continue Reading

Day of Dignity 2015

Fifth annual Day of Dignity at Masjid-an-Nur promotes awareness

All photographs taken by Aqeel El-Amin. Oct. 3 marked the fifth annual Day of Dignity hosted by Masjid-an-nur and Al-Maa’uun in North Minneapolis. Sponsored by Islamic Relief USA, Day of Dignity is hosted in 20 different cities around the United States. “It’s up to the community and partners to decide what types of services are provided, how they’ll get the people to come. Continue Reading

Is America a violent nation? Obama thinks so.

Unlike in Egypt, in America there are no laws to force media to follow the government party-line narrative or version of the story, which is not perfect, but at least theoretically readers, will decide for themselves which version to believe. The First Amendment prohibits any laws that infringe on freedom of expression. However, after the Oregon shooting where a 26-year-old man who police have identified as Chris Harper Mercer killed nine people and wounded seven others while on a shooting rampage at a community college in southwest Oregon last Thursday, Obama, the president of the free world, reacted differently—he was somber and frustrated; he actually asked the media for help, requested from them to put the death toll in perspective by comparing the thousands of Americans killed by gun violence with those killed by terrorism. He wanted reporters and editors throughout the United States to provide a context illustrating the disproportionate amount of people murdered with guns every year: “I would ask news organizations, because I won’t put these facts forward — have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks in the last decade, and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side by side on your news reports.”

A few media outlets took his request seriously, like Vox, an edgy modern digital magazine that covers news around the world with an audience of more than 170 million people. Vox published a report with maps and graphics comparing violence committed by terrorists and gun violence. Continue Reading

MAD DADS VJ Smith

An interview with the president of MAD DADS

Dressed in green hoodies and caps, a group of men ride the bus back-and-forth or stand outside of community centers in South Minneapolis, starting serious conversations with other men. These people are the MAD DADS, an acronym which stands for Men Against Destruction, Defending Against Drugs and Social-disorder. MAD DADS is a national group of volunteers that does frontline outreach, supports incarcerated men, and helps youth turn their lives around. The volunteers are African American men who, just like the people they serve, are likely to have the personal experiences of being targeted by systems of power and the police, as well as have had exposure to gang violence. The MAD DADS may just be the critical factor that stops a community member from pulling out his gun or otherwise using violence to deal with the pressures of his environment. Continue Reading

Mayor Hodges Youth Council: The new hires

Minnesota’s achievement gap is consistently one of the worst in the country.  While policy makers have attempted to close the gap, standardized test scores show that little to nothing has changed. According to the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCAs) tests taken in 2014, white students are outperforming students of color in every subject by an average of 20 points.  Although standardized test scores do not measure the full potential of a student, they are currently one of the most important factors in determining where and if a student will attend college. In July, Mayor Betsy Hodges of Minneapolis announced that she has hired two new advisors to respond to the inequities in the childhood development and education: Angela Watts, whose position is an existing one, will oversee programs aimed at early childhood development; and Phillipe Cunningham, whose position is brand new, will serve as the senior policy aide overseeing initiatives for youth ages 5-24 such as My Brother’s Keeper. Continue Reading