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

Obesity solution: Better junk food or food justice and urban farming?

Junk food can end obesity insists David Freedman in the current edition of The Atlantic. He also maintains that poor people are more obese and that they can’t/won’t eat fruits, vegetables and other wholesome foods. Thus: better junk food is the healthy solution for poor people.Really? I have a few choice words for Mr. Freedman, but better than my words — let’s take a look at people who are working to provide a different answer, in poor neighborhoods and inner cities.LaDonna Redmond started working for food justice as a mother on the West Side of Chicago, living in what some people call “food deserts” without much access to organic or non-processed food — the kind of neighborhood that Freedman believes is unwilling/incapable of choosing vegetables over McDonalds. Freedman insists that this kind of neighborhood will benefit from “healthier junk food,” as exemplified by McDonald’s egg-white breakfast sandwich, with 50 fewer calories than the Egg McMuffin.Redmond’s vision is a whole lot bigger. Continue Reading

Getting your taxes on — where to find free tax help

Do you know anybody who likes filing tax returns? Okay, maybe the EZ form is fine if you have just employer and no fancy stuff. But what if might be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, or even the Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled?If your household income is less than $50,000 ($30,000 for individuals), you’re in luck.Well — maybe you’re not exactly lucky, but at least you might be able to get free help in filing your tax return.The IRS has an easy tool to find volunteer tax preparers, just a click away.Click here to see a description of VITA (the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program on the IRS website. <>Click here and fill in your zip code to find the nearest volunteer site. <>If you want help, call now — appointment times fill up and the April 15 filing deadline is coming fast. Continue Reading

Racial disparities in hiring? Just slash human rights budget

(Photo, courtesy of HIRE, shows demonstrators assembled to deliver petition to Governor Dayton.)

Last week a coalition of community organizations asked Governor Mark Dayton to veto Republican-backed legislation that will slash the Minnesota Department of Human Rights budget by a crippling 50-65 percent.  The mission of the department is to:

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“Streamlining” endangers environment, takes away local control

Jim Falk, a fourth generation farmer from Swift County, warns that pending legislation billed as “streamlining” environmental protection actually endangers community rights and local control.

The Minnesota Environmental Partnership is hosting a Stop the Rollback news conference at the State Capitol (Room 125) this morning (March 3) at 10:30 a.m.

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