What is the future of the Council on Black Minnesotans?

It is a poorly kept secret that racial disparities exist in Minnesota. In literally every measurable aspect, education, income, housing, employment, etc., people of color lag behind their white counterparts. This in spite of the efforts of many to make and keep Minnesota an all-inclusive place to live, that provides equal opportunities.One of those efforts was the creation of the state ethnic councils. Created by the legislature in 1980, “The Minnesota state councils were created by the legislature to represent and advocate for Minnesota’s communities of color, women, and disability communities. The councils include: Chicano Latino Affairs Council, Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, Council on Black Minnesotans, Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, and Minnesota State Council on Disability and the Office on the Economic Status of Women,” according to the councils’ website.But obviously, even though the councils have existed for 35 years, racial disparities and conflicts remain.The newest race-based conflict is over competing bills in the legislature.The bill at the center of the dispute is HF 1353, whose description reads “Minnesota ethnic councils governing laws revised” and whose lead author is Minnesota State Representative Carolyn Laine, DFL.“The Office of Legislative Auditor in his report last year said that they [the councils] weren’t clear on what their duties were—their duties need to be fine-tuned and clarified,” Laine explained as her reason for drafting the proposed bill.“There was some fine tuning around the edges,” Laine said. Continue Reading

Community initiative director works to increase students of color on private college campuses

If there is one thing that can be said about Sundraya (Sunny) Kase, it’s that she really loves her job. Kase is the director of community initiatives for the Minnesota Private College Council, an organization that represents 17 Minnesota private colleges, and assists students in enrolling in them and finding funding.She has been in her position for close to a decade, before which she was involved with community engagement and development with St. Paul’s Minnesota Minority Education Partnership. Kase explained that in her current position she works with all 17 campuses.Some of the colleges are Augsburg, Macalester, Concordia College, Concordia University, Gustavus Adolphus, Hamline and St. Olaf. Continue Reading

Northside Achievement Zone gets mid-term report card

Almost three years ago, the Spokesman-Recorder reported on the origins and mission of the Northside Achievement Zone, or NAZ, which was described as “a $28 million social experiment” whose goal was “increasing educational outcomes so that kids and families have opportunities that they can point to” over the following five years. (“Northside Achievement Zone envisions a ‘tipping-point’ of success,” MSR February 22, 2012)

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St. Paul police almost twice more likely to fatally shoot black males than white counterparts

Racial tensions in the U.S. have reached the boiling point in the wake of the deaths of two black males at the hands of police officers, and the announcements in the last few days that grand juries declined to bring charges against either officer.18 year old Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson, just weeks after Eric Garner was placed in a chokehold that resulted in his death by Daniel Pantaleo in New York. Both officers are white.Read more TC Daily Planet coverage of police misconduct issues.The racial tension, already high, reached the flashpoint nationwide in the last few days following the grand jury announcements. Protests, some becoming violent, took place all over the country, including the Twin Cities, decrying a system that seems to allow police to murder black males with impunity and with no repercussion.Nationally, according to a ProPublica study done last October, black males are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than their white counterparts. So the Twin Cities Daily Planet attempted to look into the Twin Cities’ police shooting records to see if the cities’ numbers reflect a similar trend. St. Continue Reading

Sculptor refuses to be pushed around by racism

St. Paul sculptor Frank Brown describes himself as a “gofer,” someone who “goes for it, who doesn’t sit around waiting for someone to come looking for them. I take the initiative to go out and initiate the conversation that hopefully will create a positive response.”

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Hayden-Champion ethics complaint process delayed

After the second hearing as part of the ethics complaint against Democratic State Senators Jeff Hayden and Bobby Champion, the process has been placed on hold. The complaint, filed by six Republican Senators on September 24, consists of two major allegations:The first reads, “According to a Star Tribune article dated September 12, 2014 (“North Side school effort called failure”), Sen. Hayden and Sen. Bobby Jo Champion ‘threatened to withhold state aid if the Minneapolis school district did not approve the contract [for a project with Community Standards Initiative (CSI)].’”The second part of the complaint concerns allegations that “Sen. Hayden participated in the misuse of federal, state and local funding by accepting trips and other perks such as per diem as a member of the Board of Community Action Minneapolis.”The first of two probable cause hearings to date was held by the Senate Subcommittee on Ethical Conduct on October 23. Much of that hearing centered on concerns that the Minneapolis/CSI portion of the complaint was founded on reporting by the Star Tribune that relied on unnamed sources. DFL Senator Tony Lourey at that hearing criticized the Republicans who brought the complaint for relying purely on unsourced media accounts, and for not doing their own preliminary investigation.This article is reposted from TCDP media partner Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. Check out the links below for other recent Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder stories:Health food selections in school cafeterias on the risePoor timing, dishonest reporting mark Star Tribune MPD coverageWe asked Senators David Hann, Michelle Benson, and David Thompson to elaborate on their decision to go forward with the ethics complaint on that basis. Continue Reading

Minneapolis midterm election study guide

Tomorrow is Election Day — have you done your homework?Midterm elections are never as popular as presidential elections, but that doesn’t make them any less important. We want to make your decision process as easy as possible, so we’ve lined up every election this midterm year that will affect Minneapolis residents.Following are candidates for U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Minnesota State Representative, Minneapolis School Board, and Minnesota 4th Judicial District (which essentially covers Hennepin County) candidates, as they will appear on Minneapolis ballots for the Nov. 4 General Election.Also on the ballot will appear two measures for voters to consider for inclusion in the Minneapolis City Charter. The first question pertains to increasing the filing fees candidates pay to run for city offices — mayor, city council, and other city of Minneapolis offices. The current $20 fee was set in 1967 and has remained unchanged. Continue Reading

Metro Congressional contest draws national spotlight to incumbent Kline’s record on communities of color

One of the most closely watched Congressional races of this election season is happening right here in Minnesota, where DFLer Mike Obermueller is seeking to replace Republican incumbent U.S. Representative John Kline. Kline’s Congressional District 2 covers the south Twin Cities metro area, including all of Scott, Dakota, Goodhue and Wabasha counties and such cities as Burnsville and Eagan.

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National coalition works to protect voters’ rights

On September 23, a coalition of organizations that included the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance Education Fund, Bus Federation Civic Fund, Fair Elections Legal Network, League of Women Voters, Nonprofit VOTE, Rock the Vote, and Voto Latino conducted National Voter Registration Day.Their goal is to encourage people to register to vote and know what their rights are ahead of the November election. The coalition hosted events throughout the United States to further that goal, including several in Minnesota.Chris Melody Fields, manager of Legal Mobilization and Strategic Campaigns at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, explained the group’s reason for being and what it hopes to accomplish. “Every election’s incredibly important. People should get registered and get out and vote. I think midterm elections are incredibly important because there are a lot of local and state elections, and that affects people’s daily lives.This article is reposted from TCDP media partner Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. Continue Reading