NEWS DAY | Protesting the R word

Despite protests and please, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority announced October 26 that they will go ahead and allow the use of the derogatory team nickname of the Washington NFL franchise in the Metrodome at the November 7 game. The American Indian Movement — AIM of Twin Cities and AIM Patrol of Minneapolis — had called on the MSFA to ban the use of the mascot and logo inside the publicly-funded stadium and now plans to protest the game.

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1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
Credit: Public Domain: 1963 March on Washington by USIA (NARA)

COMMUNITY VOICES | 50 years after the March on Washington: It’s time to arise to today’s civil-rights challenges

A version of this article originally appeared in MinnPostOn August 28, 1963, 250,000 Americans bravely descended on our nation’s capital to participate in The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The peaceful protesters poured in from all over the country to urge America to make good on her promise of “liberty and justice for all.”The March on Washington occurred during a tumultuous time in American history in which African Americans experienced racial segregation, barriers to education, employment, voting, and housing. They also faced discrimination in many of our nation’s institutions and private establishments. Indeed, just nine years prior to the March on Washington, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs. the Board of Education that racially segregated schools for blacks and whites were inherently unequal and in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.Although the High Court’s decision in 1954 was significant and represented a legal and moral victory for African Americans, the nation continued to struggle with issues of racial justice. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | An open letter to the faith community: A call to action

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40We are a nation divided.Nothing illustrates that more than the cascading protests, rallies, and ardent cries for justice in the aftermath of the “not guilty” verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. Those outcries and the concurrent spirit of indifference on the part of many privileged Americans tell us all we need to know about how far we still have to go before we see each other the way God would expect.Indeed, the murder of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager, painfully reminds African Americans as a community that in spite of possessing the unsurpassable worth granted by Christ, black life is without value to the broader society.While many of us expected to hear words of comfort, hope, and a renewed call for love and justice in our respective houses of worship, instead most of us encountered a resounding immoral silence. Although this silence has been most pronounced and identifiable recently, it is not new. It has been a hallmark of our hasty acceptance of a supposedly post-racial nation, and has contributed to the suffering of the most vulnerable, and “the least of these” within our society.Poor people in general suffer from limited opportunity and access to basic necessities. However, poor boys and men of color – especially African Americans – not only suffer in ways that degrade their humanity, but they are systematically excluded from equitable participation within our society, are denied access to equal opportunity, and are blamed for conditions that have been constructed to disadvantage them.These young men are often feared, viewed with suspicion, criminalized, harassed, and treated with contempt. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | In the aftermath of Zimmerman’s acquittal, racial justice remains elusive

Let’s face it, America has not done a very good job of reconciling its ugly and painful history of racism and oppression against African Americans and other people of color. The predominant attitude seems to be that what happened in the past stays in the past and that history has little to no bearing upon current happenings within our society. Sadly, as illustrated in the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin and in the aftermath of the acquittal of George Zimmerman, this could not be further from the truth. In this case, race played a significant role in the fact that Trayvon Martin, a young African American male, was profiled and stereotyped by Zimmerman as a criminal who was “up to no good,” as he walked in the rain through a gated community in Sanford, Florida.The lingering perception of the Black man as criminal and suspicious has plagued young African American men since the days of slavery and beyond. In fact, throughout the South following the abolition of slavery, laws were created that made standard behavior by Black men a crime and led to high rates of incarceration for that segment of the population. Continue Reading

Obesity solution: Better junk food or food justice and urban farming?

Junk food can end obesity insists David Freedman in the current edition of The Atlantic. He also maintains that poor people are more obese and that they can’t/won’t eat fruits, vegetables and other wholesome foods. Thus: better junk food is the healthy solution for poor people.Really? I have a few choice words for Mr. Freedman, but better than my words — let’s take a look at people who are working to provide a different answer, in poor neighborhoods and inner cities.LaDonna Redmond started working for food justice as a mother on the West Side of Chicago, living in what some people call “food deserts” without much access to organic or non-processed food — the kind of neighborhood that Freedman believes is unwilling/incapable of choosing vegetables over McDonalds. Freedman insists that this kind of neighborhood will benefit from “healthier junk food,” as exemplified by McDonald’s egg-white breakfast sandwich, with 50 fewer calories than the Egg McMuffin.Redmond’s vision is a whole lot bigger. Continue Reading