COMMUNITY VOICES | That was a cloudy day?

The sky is clouded unlike my mind which is clear and focused. Peeking blue sky taunts the six others joining me on this third evening in June, a Monday. As cold as Minnesota can get, the briskness in the air is abnormal for this late in the spring. Nevertheless each person in our group, a friend or family member, is too excited to notice the cold. None but one has ever been stand up paddle boarding and none but one has ever asked the woman of their dreams for her hand in marriage. 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

OUR STORIES | Meet Chai and Cha of Chai’s Cooking at St. Paul’s Hmongtown Market

“On a normal day, I get up at 5 in the morning. After getting dressed I reach my shop, open the oven and start preparing the meat at around 7 to 7:30 a.m. depending on the traffic,” explains Chai, seated at the dining area near the restaurants at Hmongtown Marketplace. “I try my best to get everything ready before customers arrive at around 9.”Chai is the co-owner of Chai’s Cooking, one of many Hmong-owned restaurants at Hmongtown Marketplace. She runs the restaurant with the help of her husband Cha, who works at the Boston Scientific Corporation for about 8-9 hours daily. Together they opened the restaurant in September last year as Chai wished to co-own a shop with her husband. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Dueling FAQs on Sisters’ Camelot, and a community statement

From a recent Daily Planet article:The canvass workers for Sisters’ Camelot announced unionization on Monday, February 25, and went out on strike on Friday, March 1. Sisters’ Camelot is a nonprofit, volunteer-run collective organization based in Minneapolis. The canvass workers are independent contractors who raise money for the organization by going door-to-door. Canvassers have joined the Industrial Workers of the World, a leftist union informally known as the “Wobblies.”Since the strike began, both the Sisters’ Camelot strikers and the Sisters’ Camelot collective have put out answers to “Frequently Asked Questions” about the situation. Read them here:F.A.Q about the Sisters Camelot Canvass Strike,  by Sisters’ Camelot StrikersSisters’ Camelot FAQ, by the Sisters’ Camelot collectiveAnd on March 5th, a group of community members released “A Letter of Support for all the Workers at Sisters’ Camelot.” Continue Reading

Longevity

My friend Stacy, who lives in Massachusetts, recently awoke in the middle of the night to a loud pounding. She went downstairs to see a light coming through a hole where a man had taken a hammer and had already burst a hole in her door. She yelled that she was going to call the police. He ran. Continue Reading

Bullies

My son was bullied at school this past week.  He’s only nine years old.   He’s still in this wonderful stage of life where he’s rambunctious yet sweet, demanding yet compromising, naïve yet growing more aware of the larger world we all live in.  The words spewed at him were harsh- spoken loudly in the lunchroom at school.  “I hate you!”  Undertones of “I want to ki Continue Reading

Saving the Electronic Commons

In the 1970’s, civic minded visionaries created a federal plan to insure that the corporate cable giants wiring our communities would have to share a piece of the profit with the people, public access television was born.

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FREE SPEECH ZONE | We Have To Demand Power Won’t Concede

When abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, “Power never concedes anything without demand. It never has, never will,” it was the middle of the nineteenth century. He was certainly prescient. Here, in the United States, in the 21st century, the struggle continues. In the following two cases, people had to demand their First Amendment rights, which were violated by over-reaching law enforcement. Continue Reading