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Status quo fixes won’t stop the frightening violence


It is the elephant in the room that people don’t want to talk about: the ongoing street violence affecting so many African Americans in this country due to the dysfunctional institutions, leadership and policies that allow caste-like barriers — bad schools, few jobs, drugs, crime — to remain in place and foster violence. It is alarming. It is frightening. But so long as these dysfunctional institutions, leadership and policies hide behind the lie that they can’t be fixed, they won’t be, even though the fixes are readily in sight: education, jobs, housing. The mayor of Minneapolis, R.T. Rybak, recently announced that Chuck Wexler and the Police Executive Research Forum would be brought back to Minneapolis to advise on developing strategies to deal with Minneapolis’ violence, as if the extent of the violence is the issue. Continue Reading →

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In Twin Cities, Blacks still need not apply



“Twin Cities Still Worst in U.S. for Black Jobseekers” (Star Tribune headline, July 2, 2012). “New report shows little change from 2009 unemployment rates.” — Economic Policy Institute. That is a repeat of the June 18, 2010 report of the Star Tribune of the same Economic Policy Institute report released to Congress showing African Americans 3.1 times more likely than Whites to be unemployed in our metro area. Since 2005, I have written 24 columns on this “worst” in the country and why including my 2005 column, “Black share of upcoming $5 billion in construction: Zero.” I continue to ask, where are the plans and actions to reverse this “Blacks need not apply” reality? It could not exist if the city’s vision included offering a seat at the table of equal access and equal opportunity to everyone, Black and White. Continue Reading →

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Segregation again: Black educators are being purged



Richard Green was the first Black superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools who later became chancellor of the New York City Schools. He was an educator’s educator. He earned respect and affection of all involved with education, educators, students and parents. He was honored when Central High School was renamed Richard Green Central Park School, now a K-8 school. Green was a native son, born and raised here. Continue Reading →

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Two violations of Mpls City Charter in stadium bill


Requirement that stadium builders ‘make every effort’  to hire minorities is a cruel joke 

On the road to creating the Minnesota Sports Authority, the entity that will control and manage the construction of the Vikings stadium, the Minnesota legislature caused a second violation of the Minneapolis City Charter. The first charter violation, this one by the mayor and city council, was not holding a required referendum on stadium costs of over $10 million to the City. The second violation, this one by the state legislature and unopposed by the City, decrees sole authority to the mayor to appoint the city’s two Minnesota Sports Authority members. The charter purposefully states that Minneapolis city government is to follow a strong council/weak mayor model, a perceived strength and cornerstone of Minneapolis democracy that reduces the chance for one-person boss rule. The State, recognizing that the City already violated its charter, knew the mayor and a simple council majority would not protest this second violation (which raises the specter of a potential lawsuit that would further delay construction). Continue Reading →

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Stenglein takes on task of making downtown safe for all



A May 30 Star Tribune article, “Stenglein builds on strengths,” announced Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein becoming CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council. (“…some 300 downtown businesses and large regional companies,” “movers and shakers,” with “a new plan for a vibrant and livable 24/7 downtown that can house double the 34,000 people who now live there.” It “will help forge public-private partnerships at a time of limited government funding.”)

Stenglein “has the reputation of seeing the importance of investing in the Black communities’ economic growth,” as seen in “his African-American Men Project, an effort to rethink county policy to get more young black men employed and out of trouble.”

Unfortunately, the documentation/statistics/lack of jobs shows good intentions were not met, as the African American community gained little financial stimulus. Recall the statement of former Minneapolis Civil Rights Department Director Michael Jordan, about five years ago, that Minneapolis can meet its diversity hiring goals without hiring a single Black person. Reaction? None. Continue Reading →

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More than ever, all-Black sports radio’s time has come



A Spanish all-sports station may soon debut in New York City. Yet there’s still not an all-Black sports radio station anywhere in this country, neither on terrestrial regular radio nor on the nation’s only satellite radio service, SiriusXM. Before the FCC approved the Sirius-XM merger in 2008, we were told that new channels for underserved communities would be established. However, only one Black-oriented channel from Howard University has been added post-merger. There’s a “Mad Dog” sports channel and a fantasy sports channel, but not one channel with Blacks talking sports all the time. Continue Reading →

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America is on a racial ‘Razor’s Edge’


Will entrenched injustices cut us to pieces?  

The death of Trayvon Martin on February 26 was not just another event in America’s troubled and tainted history of abusing the rights of African Americans. The controversy surrounding his death highlights a pivotal time in the history of our race relations. For every Trayvon there are 50 other Trayvon Martin cases that are never addressed for a variety of reasons: The community is not organized; the community is not aware; the community is frightened and intimidated; the community receives poor and ineffective legal counsel; and our community is often at war with itself. Not enough in Black and White America recognize that where there is a spark there is a potential for a full-fledged inferno that burns away and obstructs the quest for justice. Continue Reading →

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Hiring mandates must be in place for Viking stadium project



Are job opportunity plans for Blacks mandated and in place for the Vikings stadium project and the development to take place around it? If yes, let’s see it. If no, set a date for revealing the mandates of a hiring compliance plan. A week ago, the Rybak Administration announced it had the seventh vote needed to move stadium financing ahead without a referendum before the voters. Hiring Black construction/transportation/planning firms and workers has been a Minneapolis Potemkin Village, a movie set, street facades and few results for Blacks behind the facade. Continue Reading →

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Trayvon Martin murder exposes madness of Stand Your Ground laws




On February 26, 2012, unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot to death by George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old wannabe cop and self-appointed gun-carrying neighborhood watchman in a gated community just outside Orlando in Sanford, Florida. (No local or gated community rule authorized such an armed role.)

Trayvon was returning from a convenience store three blocks from the home of his dad’s fiancée to get snacks for watching a basketball game. He was essentially shot for SWB (shopping while Black). The 911 tapes (which police withheld until forced to release them by court order) make it easier to understand this latest American tragedy, as it reveals the use of racial hate language. The shooter was told by 911 to stand down and stop trailing the young man. Continue Reading →

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Discontent erupts in early spring violence

MPD takes possession of Civilian Review Authority

On the international scene last year, the Arab Spring brought an offensive of hope for positive change in the Middle East, led by the young and unemployed. It also brought an offensive uprising of violence and confrontation by those wanting to dash hope and prevent needed change. Is this what’s in store for Minneapolis? My concern is not what happens with the 21st-century Arab Spring, but rather with the Minneapolis Spring of 2012 and the disturbing pattern of developing violence (drive-by shootings, gun battles in the street, White and Black youth fighting together and against each other in and through downtown). This is a concern for everyone, not just Blacks, not just Whites. Continue Reading →

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