Best of Neighborhood News 1/30/19: NAACP chapters unite to target state’s racial wealth gap

Minneapolis and St. Paul NAACP chapters unite to target state’s racial wealth gap

The myriad racial disparities and issues affecting Black Communities in the Twin Cities have caught the attention of the National NAACP, which has announced that it will create an Economic Inclusion Plan (EIP) for the Twin Cities. This plan will include measures to address issues such as mass incarceration and economic injustice as well as entrepreneurship and rising education costs. At a leadership gathering in December, moderated by Minneapolis NAACP President Leslie Redmond, handpicked panelists from both Minneapolis and St. Paul areas were brought together, all “recognizing that these economic disparities are impacting both of us and that we need to be able to work together and move forward,” said Redmond. Continue Reading

Sensory-friendly: a safe play place for children with autism

The Northtown Mall in Blaine, Minnesota, bustles with activities for children: a video game arcade, furry motor scooters shaped like animals, a bungee-cord trampoline you’d expect to see at a carnival. Among the flashing lights and commotion is Tony’s Place, which opened doors in October with a mission to cultivate an inclusive play space for people who live with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), their family members and friends. Inside Tony’s Place you’ll find twinkling fairy lights wrap around various sensory swings that can hold multiple people, including children, adults and people with wheelchairs. A pallet of bubble wrap stands in an alcove, available for anyone to satisfy that tactile need. There’s a netted trampoline and physical activity center to help release physical energy. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 1/16: Dr. Joi Lewis’s debut book offers path to healing and liberation

Dr. Joi Lewis’s debut book offers path to healing and liberation 

Dr. Joi Lewis, originally from East Saint Louis, Illinois, says that many in Black and brown communities are suffering from intergenerational oppression and trauma. “That’s why healing ourselves is so radical,” said Lewis, life coach, self-care expert and author of Healing, The Act of Radical Self-Care. “It’s put out there in a commercial way like self-care is something that is for people who have means, who have money, as an extra thing that you do.”

Black women are often expected to be strong, able to tolerate and suffer silently any amount of mental, emotional, and physical violence due to racism, sexism, classism and other systemic oppressions. “Even when I was on campus, I was doing healing work,” said Lewis, referring to her 25-year career on college campuses as a dean, a vice president, and a chief diversity officer. “I was doing a lot of work around social justice and liberation work and connecting to the community. Continue Reading

Dance as deep listening: “Weave” by Rosy Simas Danse comes to the Ordway

Rosy Simas of Rosy Simas Danse is Haudenosaunee, Seneca, Heron Clan. She brings a Native feminist lens to the contemporary dance world with her body of work, the latest of which is “Weave,” a collaborative dance project. “Weave” will make its debut on Jan. 12 at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts, a co-commissioner in collaboration with The O’Shaughnessy. Simas describes the upcoming performance as a glimpse into a much larger experience that extends before and after for those involved. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 1/2: University of Minnesota names its first female president

University of Minnesota names its first female president

The Board of Regents voted to confirm Joan Gabel with a five-year contract as the next president of the university. Gabel visited all five campuses during the interview process and answered questions about her vision of higher education. When asked about student debt, Gabel said, “We really need to be thinking about clever ways to make sure students can afford education and I think it’s very clear that we are starting to inch up on what the marked can bear, even for students who don’t have fiscal constraints.”

While she ultimately earned high praise from stakeholders, the appointment process was not without controversy, as she was named as the sole finalist, which has drawn criticism in terms of transparency. In addition to the process, there were questions about her non-traditional background; Gabel has a JD not a PhD and she was a dean of a business school. Find out more at MNDaily. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 12/19: Asian Pacific Caucus to form in Minnesota Legislature

Asian Pacific Caucus to form in Minnesota Legislature

As of 2019, there will be four more Asian American state senators and representatives in the Minnesota Legislature, bringing the total to six. They believe that there is a critical mass and that it’s important to caucus on issues relevant to the AP community in Minnesota. Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in the Unites States, with Minnesota’s Asian Pacific population being 4.8 percent of the state’s overall population, compared to 6 percent in the nation. On Dec. 18 an announcement was made in Capitol Press Conference Room about the formation of the first Minnesota Asian Pacific Caucus. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 12/12: Racism and sexism in coaching addressed in new local documentary

 

Racism and sexism in coaching addressed in new local documentary

Game On: Women Can Coach, a documentary by filmmakers Shari Lamke and Connie Clark and a co-production of the University of Minnesota Tucker Center and TPT premiered in November, and will be rebroadcast this month on the TPT MN channel (Dec. 9, 9 pm; Dec. 16, 3 am, 9 am and 3 pm). Minnesota Lynx Coach/GM Cheryl Reeve, winner of four WNBA titles, and Minnesota Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Faith Johnson Patterson, who won eight state high school titles at two different Minneapolis schools are prominently featured in the film. Filmmakers Shari Lamke and Connie Clark said, “We need to see coaches in action, as well as talk to them about the barriers and successes they’ve had in their careers.”

Find out more at Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. Continue Reading

How the restaurant industry normalizes wage theft

“If they’re clocked in before they’re scheduled to work, then you don’t have to pay them.” This is a tip Eddie Wu, owner and chef at Cook St. Paul, received from another local chef de cuisine from a well-known Minneapolis restaurant. “In a proud way, they were [explaining] how many hours they were able to shave off their payroll and hedge it,” said Wu. 

Wage theft occurs when workers don’t receive their legally or contractually agreed upon wages. This could be non-payment of overtime, paying below the minimum wage, not paying for all hours worked, requiring off-the-clock work, stealing or manipulating tip payouts or not paying an employee a final check. 

This type of theft within the foodservice industry can be obvious, like not paying overtime wages, but there are quieter tactics and loopholes that unscrupulous owners or managers take advantage of, often going unnoticed by workers. 

The most recent compliance sweep conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division from 2010-2012 that within nearly 9,000 full-service restaurants, approximately 84 percent of restaurants had at least one violation. This resulted in the department’s recovering approximately $57 million in back wages for about 82,000 workers. Continue Reading

Not enough: seeking and providing mental health services as a person of color in the Twin Cities

When Myisha Holley, a mother of three living in St. Paul, went through a divorce, she looked for a therapist that could help her and her daughters work through their trauma. She was clear about what she wanted from a relationship with a mental health professional. “I needed to feel like I could build a relationship with my therapist … like talking to the homegirl, without the judgment,” she said. For her daughters, Holley wanted a therapist who could be a role model while also supporting her while she parented. Continue Reading

[COMMUNITY VOICES] Non-criminal ‘technical violations’ are increasing Minnesota’s prison population

When it comes to incarceration rates, Minnesota stands out as one of the few states who is experiencing an increase in their prison population despite prison overcrowding and crime at a 50-year low. While there are multiple factors for this, a significant part of this increase is due to the incarceration of formerly released individuals for non-criminal “technical violations” of parole. According to the Department of Correction in 2017 alone, 3,391 people were returned to prison, yet 88 percent – or nearly 3,000 of those admissions – were a return without a new sentence, that is, for technical violations. A technical violation is a petty violation of supervised or conditional release (colloquially known as “parole”) which are not in themselves a misdemeanor or felony. For example, people can be violated for failure to obtain or maintain housing or employment, being late for or missing an appointment, going on social media, driving a vehicle and many other non-crimes. Continue Reading