MN VOICES | Ange Hwang, founder of Asian Media Access

“I am not just Chinese American, I am Ange Hwang. I would like to be respected as Ange Hwang, but I would also hope that people respect my background, which comes with a lot of assumptions.”
Ange Hwang, founder of Asian Media Access (AMA) and a nominee for this year’s Facing Race Awards, hopes that through media, her agency can help to clarify, explain, or tear down the many assumptions people make about Asian Americans and their cultures. She lists the typical stereotypes people make about her as a Chinese-American woman: obedient, quiet, walks ten steps behind her husband. “Of course, I am not like that,” Hwang says. “Though in my culture we are taught not to speak up,” she continues, “if in this country we continue to do that, we will continue to suffer from misunderstandings and bigotry.”Since 2002, the Facing Race initiative of The Saint Paul Foundation has generated discussions among people of all backgrounds to provide a greater understanding of race issues and what the community as a whole can do to make it a more open and equitable society. Continue Reading

FORUM | Cut the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department’s Complaint Investigation Unit?

Should Minneapolis abolish the Complaint Investigation Unit of the city’s civil rights department? Read both sides of the argument. Then add your opinion. “By almost any indicator, in terms of income, education, healthcare, and home ownership,” said Councilmember Robert Lilligren, “in Minneapolis, the gap between communities of color and white communities is greater than almost every city in the country. After such a robust civil rights movement in this city, that gap is still persistent, and it grows. Continue Reading

Powering up in St. Paul: One Ford Ranger goes electric

As Stew Roberts, owner of the Foreign Service Auto Repair in Roseville, showed me the Ford Ranger he had recently finished converting from gas to electric, he stopped mid-sentence to sniff the air. “I think I smell burning plastic,” he said. Seeing a small trail of smoke wafting from behind the driver’s seat where Roberts sat, I pointed, “There’s some smoke.”
“The gumshoe reporter spots the smoke,” joked Todd Seabury-Kolod, owner of the Ford Ranger. Both Roberts and Seabury-Kolod seemed a bit embarrassed, though it turned out the smoke had nothing to do with the conversion. “This is how the job has been going—all these other dumb things to deal with,” Roberts complained as he fiddled with the stereo amplifier wires causing the smoke. Continue Reading

REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK | Abolish Minneapolis Civil Rights Department investigations unit?

The story: Minneapolis mayor R. T. Rybak has proposed to cut the Civil Rights Complaints Investigations Unit of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights (MDCR). This would transfer almost 500 open cases to the Department of Human Rights and put nine people out of jobs. The MDCR uses only one percent of the city’s budget, with the CIU using one-third of one percent according to Minneapolis Civil Rights commissioner Louisa Hext ( What the two sides say: Save the investigation’s unit Opponents fear that the transfer of cases will place a heavy burden on the state department, adding almost 500 cases to the current state backlog. Many say that the Minnesota Department of Human Rights is poorly run and lacking much-need funding and staff. Continue Reading

Canoeing at Welch Mill: Fun, even if you’re not a nature person

I graduated from Macalester College this May and was decompressing before continuing the dreary search for a summer job when one of my housemates came in and asked if I wanted to go on a canoe trip the next day. I hesitated at first, because I’m not really a super nature kind of girl. I classify people into three categories:• those who wouldn’t go anywhere near a tent even if you paid them,• those who sometimes go camping or canoeing at the insistence of their friends, and• those you suspect live in hiking boots because it’s almost freakish how many of their Facebook pictures show them backpacking. I am in the second category, a person who tags along at the insistence of her friends. So the next day, I piled into a car with four other people and we drove south to Welch, Minnesota to canoe on the Cannon River. Continue Reading