Best of Neighborhoods News 05/21/2019: UMN student government reaffirms push to rename campus buildings

UMN student government reaffirms push to rename campus buildingsThe Minnesota Student Association released a letter in the wake of a decision that came after nearly a year-long contention over four University of Minnesota campus buildings named after figures with racist, anti-semitic pasts. The state university’s governing body, the Board of Regents, voted 10-1 against the renaming of Coffman Union, Coffey Hall, Nicholson Hall and Middlebrook Hall, names which go as far back as 1851. In pushing back against this decision, the MSA-issued letter reads, “We strongly believe that renaming is the first step of reckoning with our University’s [history]. That is why, to us, renaming is a when, not an if.” MSA will meet with the newly-appointed regents, as well as the incoming University President Joan Gabel, to continue conversations about renaming. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 1/16: Dr. Joi Lewis’s debut book offers path to healing and liberation

Dr. Joi Lewis’s debut book offers path to healing and liberation 

Dr. Joi Lewis, originally from East Saint Louis, Illinois, says that many in Black and brown communities are suffering from intergenerational oppression and trauma. “That’s why healing ourselves is so radical,” said Lewis, life coach, self-care expert and author of Healing, The Act of Radical Self-Care. “It’s put out there in a commercial way like self-care is something that is for people who have means, who have money, as an extra thing that you do.”

Black women are often expected to be strong, able to tolerate and suffer silently any amount of mental, emotional, and physical violence due to racism, sexism, classism and other systemic oppressions. “Even when I was on campus, I was doing healing work,” said Lewis, referring to her 25-year career on college campuses as a dean, a vice president, and a chief diversity officer. “I was doing a lot of work around social justice and liberation work and connecting to the community. Continue Reading

Restoring an echo of humanity for inmates through a different kind of public health

Erin Sharkey is preparing for a nature writing course she will offer at the Faribault Correctional Facility, a medium security prison. “It would be great to be able to have people spend time in nature when they are thinking and writing about nature,” said Sharkey. As a local artist, writer and instructor at the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop, Sharkey would like to bring in sensory-rich objects, such as leaves, as a writing prompt for the students. But, she is not allowed to take a leaf inside the prison so she brings pictures of leaves. The everyday struggle to maintain one’s humanity inside Minnesota prisons remains largely out of sight. Continue Reading