Black Focus

Recent Articles

Will Blacks finally get a fair share of work on this stadium?

Chair of stadium authority raises serious questions about past inclusion

Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA), who oversees design and construction of the Vikings’ “People’s Stadium,” told Minnesota Public Radio in an interview on February 8 that serious questions have been raised about the Equity Plan implementation passed by the MSFA that same day. Three City-commissioned studies by two separate research groups support Chairwoman Kelm-Helgen’s observations. The last study was issued on May 15, 2012, by NERA (National Economic Research Associates) at a cost to Minneapolis of $500,000. These studies expose the City’s serious and purposeful noncompliance with Minority and Women Business Enterprises (M/WBE) utilization requirements. NERA’s report provided evidence that supports the investigative reporting in this column for a decade. Continue Reading →

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President Obama’s visit to discuss gun violence disappoints


What joy and excitement energized the Black community, individuals and organizations alike, anticipating seeing and meeting the first African American president, Barrack Obama, in North Minneapolis when he was in town Monday, February 4 to make a major speech on guns and violence in America. Although disappointed in what the president’s administration has not done for communities of color, and skipping North Minneapolis as a campaigner, expectations still ran high until they gave way to high disappointment when his visit turned out to be a PR drive-by, as his motorcade sped to and from the well-fortified police academy building at 41st and DuPont in North Minneapolis, leaving many bewildered and upset. The gun and crime statistics didn’t match ours of columns past nor address the concerns Harry Belafonte expressed at the February 1 NAACP Awards show: that Black Americans are the “most incarcerated, most unemployed, and most hunted in America,” nor the question Belafonte asked earlier regarding why contemporary discussions continue “to ignore decades of urban gun violence.”

The courtesy and respect denied the community in general spilled over to key leaders such as the Assistant Majority Whip of the Minnesota Senate, who received none of the considerations that should be accorded to a man of his political stature (he stands fifth in the line of succession for governor). One wonders how many were behind Senator Hayden being so disrespected by his own. Senator Hayden is known within the Black community for his significant expertise and experience. Continue Reading →

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So much for 32 percent Black participation in stadium construction — When will the State deposit its $50M statutory requirement?


Vikings People’s-no-new-taxes stadium is unraveling for the African American community. “It’s ours” ballyhoo regarding Minnesota has become “it’s mine” for NFL, the Wizard of Oz behind the Vikings’ curtain. • 32 percent minority participation goals of Minnesota’s State Department of Human Rights Director Kevin Lindsay were pulverized into dust. My estimate of 1-1.5 percent African American participation: too high. Actual and factual: unless there is unanticipated change, less than half of one percent, including employment and contracts. Continue Reading →

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Share your heritage — cook with your children

Whenever I hear my pre-adolescent daughter say, “Mom, I’m hungry!” I’m reminded of how much things have changed since I was her age. At the risk of sounding like I grew up on Little House on the Prairie, I would like to add that at her age I could cook, clean, and otherwise run an entire household; my mother made sure I had been thoroughly prepared for womanhood. So, given that it is now my role to help prepare others for womanhood, Tuesdays have become “family cooking night” at my home — the children (females and males) engage in family meal preparation — from menu planning to shopping, chopping, cooking, table-setting and dishwashing, everyone plays a part. As they have been learning more and more about African American history and heritage, my daughters have begun to take a deeper interest in African cuisines and dishes unique to peoples of the African Diaspora. On a Tuesday night within the last 12 days of Christmas, my daughters decided that they wanted to cook Jolof rice from West Africa, candied yams, and collard greens. Continue Reading →

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Sports Authority Legislative Report, with Unequal Equity Plan, sent to legislature

It is an unintended but very real sad irony of history that on the birth date of Martin Luther King, Jr., January 15, the Vikings, the NFL, and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) sent its first annual report to the state legislature carrying the message that there may be some room in the People’s Stadium construction bus, but only in the back, a Minnesota refrain I’ve steadily warned about since 2005. Our community has not believed. Will they now? On page six of the MSFA report to the legislature, we can see how the MSFA blindsided Commissioner Kevin Lindsay and the African American leadership of Minnesota. The highly touted, well-publicized PR charade of 32 percent minority participation evaporated. Continue Reading →

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When good people essentially do nothing

Power, politics, and policy and the influence they have over African American people
 The danger in trying to define “power” is that just when you have things all figured out, another form of power presents itself. As I sat in a movie theater watching the movie Lincoln, tears rolled down my face when the African American slaves began to fill the Senate, and all the Whites stopped in their tracks, turned, and watched as one Republican senator announced loudly, “Welcome to your house,”
I cried because I realized that these African American slaves did not have organized money or organized people, yet they were influential in the process of passing the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. In my opinion, true power is given to all mankind; yet it’s rarely used. We have been trained to believe that a state of powerlessness is the road of least resistance, and therefore we should choose that path to avoid struggle. For instance, I live in an income-based property in the northwest suburbs that is called Hickory Ridge Townhomes. Continue Reading →

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Radioactive gas: a persistent health risk in Minnesota

Governor Dayton has declared January “Radon Action Month” to encourage testing

Minnesota homes need to be tested for radon; winter is the best time to do it. Every 25 minutes, one person in the U.S. dies from radon-related lung cancer. It is the largest environmental cancer risk and t‹he leading cause of lung cancer among non smokers. Fortunately, the risk is largely preventable. More than 40 percent of Minnesota homes have dangerous levels of radon gas, and state health officials say every home should be tested. Continue Reading →

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A healthy life requires much more than an annual resolution

“There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only passion for life.” — Federico Fellini 

New Year’s resolutions are a waste. People tend to make a promise on January 1 with great sincerity but follow it with little effort. Thus, 88 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. Continue Reading →

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Decision announcement days: January 15 & 18, February 1, 2013

Sports Facility Authority and the Minnesota Vikings

Will the “Stadium Powers” (Minnesota Legislature, Minneapolis City Council, Vikings, NFL and the Minnesota Facilities Sports Authority that oversees the stadium construction project), all regarding the Vikings (“people’s” “no new taxes”) stadium, stand up for fairness in employment and equity or hide behind the skirts of a “best effort” calendar? January 15, 2013: The Sports Authority is to file its first annual report to the Minnesota State Legislature’s super-commission. Report only. No public hearing. No public comments. Continue Reading →

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