A map of Ethiopia.

We Are Your Neighbors: Things You Might Not Understand about New Immigrants

By PM English Level 5/6 Class at the English Learning CenterThere are many things that people in Minnesota don’t understand about new immigrants. There are many things in our culture that are different.First, our religion is different. Some new immigrants are Christians, some are Muslim, and some may be another religion. One difference for Catholics from Mexico and South America is that they celebrate Virgin Mary on December 12. Muslims pray 5 times a day. Continue Reading

somalia

Remittances are lifelines between many immigrants and family members’ survival in Somalia and other East African countries

A remittance is an electronic wire transfer of funds from one country to another. For decades, many immigrant residents of the United States kept family members alive through this way of getting money across borders. Fears that terror groups like ISIS or Al-Shabaab would find ways to divert remittances to a terrorist effort prompted the United States to close down all of the channels for funds, not just from here to Somali or Ethiopia, but also to England, Denmark, Sweden and other countries where East Africans’ relatives might be living. Following earlier efforts by Rep. Keith Ellison and other congressional leaders, channels were reestablished, but on February 6th, the only remaining US channel, the Merchant Bank of California closed its money services business clients’ accounts.A rally in late February by Somali/East African leaders, joined by local and statewide officials began exploring additional steps to be taken by Minnesota’s Congressional delegation to again reopen these channels. Ventura Village’s Sadik Warfa, who is also Deputy Director of the Global Somali Diaspora, located in the neighborhood, stated, “ Although it’s a federal issue and must be solved by federal action, we are going to do our part to meet and develop a united front and explore the next steps to be taken to resolve this crisis. Continue Reading

[Image above: Property tax capacity per household in the Twin Cities, 2004. From Myron Orfield’s book Region.]

The Inequality Debate Needs to be Careful about Scale

Two weeks ago, the Atlantic published a short (and facile) post called “the Miracle of Minneapolis” that (as is the way of media circles in insecure places) launched itself right onto the forefront of the Twin Cities social media scene. And, with good reason, the article re-kindledconversations about racial disparities that have been going on for years. Before I dive into my argument, I want to outline two crucial caveats. First, I love that we’re discussing racial disparities with increasing frequency these days. We have ignored the way that our cities have created wealth only for some (white) people, and made it almost impossible for others. The Fair Housing Act was only passed in the 60s, which isn’t very long ago, and we need to always remember how our cities treat people differently depending on race, class, and culture. Continue Reading

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Mission to Cuba would make Minnesota farmers first to market

In mid-December the Obama administration announced it would begin to normalize relations with Cuba, opening the door to potentially lucrative new markets. Now, Minnesota farmers want to be among the first to move through it.The House Agriculture Finance Committee heard legislation Tuesday which seeks to help them do just that. HF772, sponsored by Rep. Jack Considine Jr. (DFL-Mankato), would provide $100,000 to identify existing and emerging opportunities in Cuba for Minnesota’s agricultural producers.“I believe there’s an opportunity for the best family farmers in the world, here in Minnesota, to expand the markets in Cuba as the restrictions are being lifted,” Considine said. “I’d like to see us get down there first.”The bill, which was laid over for possible omnibus bill inclusion, would also direct the Department of Agriculture to effectively communicate these opportunities to producers and processors. The companion, SF733, is sponsored by Sen. Dan Sparks(DFL-Austin) and awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee. Continue Reading