COMMUNITY VOICES | Ryan Williams-Virden – A Salute to the Community

There were so many beautiful people at the Hoodies Up MN march, so much beautiful energy, and it was truly inspiring. I am honored to have been present.To be honest I didn’t expect to feel like this. I was one of those people who thought protests and demonstrations had run their course. I felt like they offered a space for people to vent but were actually counterproductive because people left with no concrete plan to actually affect the balance of power.After the Hoodies Up MN rally, I feel differently.I realized why demonstrations are a crucial part of community building. Thousands of people, who knew each other to various degrees, saw how many people feel like them. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | #HoodiesUpMN rally inspires hope for our communities

On Sunday, a group of community organizers and citizens met at Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) after the jury had read the not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial.We had three main goals to discuss at the meeting: (1) What was the message we wanted to send out, (2) Who did we want to target with this message, and (3) What was the narrative going to be. During the meeting every one of us could feel the emotion in the room – people’s hurt, frustration, anger, sadness—and hope. As a recent resident to Minneapolis this was such a beautiful sight to me. Many ideas were shared and discussed as we began to create a long-term, and sustainable, plan for justice – not just for Trayvon Martin, but for everyone that is and has been affected by the racism that is entrenched within our society.Last week I came across a report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement entitled Operation Ghetto Storm.  This report was created with the goal of understanding the disregard of Black life in America, a disregard which has been vividly called to many of our minds by Trayvon Martin’s and Terrance Franklin’s deaths. It breaks down how our government and our society tolerates—and even supports—the extrajudicial execution of Black people: “In 2012, 313 Black people were executed without trial by police, security guards and self-appointed law enforcers.” Every 28 hours a father, mother, daughter, son, sister, brother is murdered. For me, the most startling statistic was that 66% were people aged 2 to 31. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Zimmerman acquittal demonstrates that we can’t keep silent

The “not guilty” verdict in the George Zimmerman trial was a striking blow to our hearts, but not something new. For centuries, African-Americans have received the clear message that our existence is something easily disposable and our dignity rarely valued. This case sends a shock wave to those who truly believed racism is no more; on the contrary, it is alive and well. Society may not call it by name, but they signal it through their actions. Trayvon Martin was unjustly profiled based on his skin color and outfit choice, and it lead to his death. Continue Reading