If we need more teachers of color, stop saying we need diversity

The state of public education in Minnesota is not looking good. According to data provided by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), in 2014 and 2015 more than half of 11th graders were not at grade level in math or reading. For those same years, the Minneapolis Public School District (MPS) showed no more than a third of 11th graders performed at grade level for either subject. For students of color, the numbers are even worse, giving Minnesota one of the largest achievement gaps nationally between students of color and their white peers.

There are many factors affecting why Black, Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander, and Native American kids don’t perform well here. But one key contributor is a belief gap that follows them into their classrooms, where they are viewed by predominantly white teachers as having less academic potential than their white peers. Continue Reading

House 60B candidate Ilhan Omar challenges notions of what politicians can be

It is the morning after her campaign launch when Ilhan Omar, candidate for state representative in Minneapolis’ House District 60B, and I sit down. Omar is still visibly glowing from the success of the Nov. 11 launch at Mixed Blood Theater.

“My sister said it felt like a victory party, not a kick off party. Because we’re used to the 20-40 people in a room for a kickoff. I guess that’s what I also expected, but to be in a room with over 250 people felt almost surreal,” Omar said. Continue Reading

A young girl marches with protesters in downtown Minneapolis on Nov. 24

When do we #SayHerName? Examining the systems behind the death of Jamar Clark

As protesters aligned with Black Lives Matter-Minneapolis (BLM-Minneapolis) took to the streets over the past few weeks, the now-familiar message was clear: Clark did not deserve to meet his untimely death on a North Minneapolis sidewalk by a bullet in his head. His death, another tally in a string of fatal encounters between unarmed black men and law enforcement agencies across the country, was another notch in the need to address the issue of discriminatory police practices and for reform. The formulaic response to yet another police killing also meant a backlash against the narrative of who the real victim was in this fatal encounter. Continue Reading