Dwight Hobbes

Recent Articles

WANTED: Northside restaurant offering ‘real food’

Appetite For Change breaks barriers between inner-city families and healthy foods

By Dwight Hobbes
Contributing Writer


We certainly hear enough bad about North Minneapolis. How about some good once in a while? Not that there aren’t plenty positive things going on in that part of town, they just don’t make the news like some others. Consider fairly recent initiative Appetite For Change (AFC). The idea here is to help youngsters help themselves and, while they’re at it, contribute to the community’s wellbeing by involving them in providing an essential resource: food. Continue Reading →

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Keith meets Hank and Mari

Everybody laughed. The session went swimmingly. The only thing Helen had to say when they were done was, “We should’ve recorded that.” Then she snatched Keith by the collar. “Boy, come here. I wanna talk t’ you.”

They went back out to the lobby and Helen said, “Okay, whatever it is I’m paying you, you get a raise.”

“Works for me.” He pressed his luck. “Y’know what’s a good idea?”

“No, what?”

“You and the brat singing some Sam and Dave. I could pull out some of my best Steve Cropper riffs.”

Helen nodded. “Yeah, that is a good idea. Damned good. I knew I had the right man for this job. Okay, I’m outta here.” She turned and walked off, Keith watching her wear the hell out of those sweat pants every step of the way. Continue Reading →

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Helen raises hell

Helen St. James didn’t understand the maxim “If it’s working, don’t fix it.” They got started and before long he’d had to throw her out, banish the star from her from own session. Everybody loved Helen — was crazy about the woman — which was why everyone was happy as hell to sign on for this quick jaunt out to the middle of nowhere. But they also resigned themselves to her arduous method of rehearsing. Pausing to needlessly pick over every little thing. And have you play one line three different times, three different ways. Each. Continue Reading →

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Treating youth violence as a menace to public health

Can the medical model help eradicate this plague?  

By Dwight Hobbes

Contributing Writer


Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, noted author of Deadly Consequences: How Violence Is Destroying Our Teenage Population and a Plan to Begin Solving the Problem, was in the Twin Cities recently to deliver the keynote address, “Violence and Public Health,” at the Women’s Advocates’ 40th Anniversary Community Conversation. The subject alone should be enough to grab your attention as a malady that continues to chronically plague communities of color, specifically African American neighborhoods. For instance, in 2011, teen violence contributed to the high rate of Black youth from as young as 10 to the age of 24 being victims of homicide. Without knowing the exact number, we know anecdotally that rate isn’t merely high, it’s tragically catastrophic. Continue Reading →

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Keith decides things could be worse

Right now, Lesli had raised something else to deal with. “Would you like,” he asked, “to tell me about this your-mother’s-not-going-to-like-me business?”

Turned out this was not something to which Lesli had looked forward. Since Mari, her mom, deliberately found something about all her boyfriends to intently dislike. You could count on it. Hence, she simply stopped introducing them to her. There wasn’t any two ways around this, though. Because she’d never been this sold on a guy. And knew there was no point delaying the inevitable. Knew it from the day she’d basically badgered Keith into proposing. That she’d finally landed that ever-elusive great catch, even if it took two years and change to reel him in. “So,” she said, “guess we better bite the bullet, hunh?’

“Well.” Keith sipped at his drink. “What about your dad?”

She shrugged. “Good old easygoing Hank Hall? He tends to stay out of it. Not that he’s whipped or anything. He just doesn’t want to hear her mouth if he doesn’t have to. Let’s say he picks his spots.”

Keith nodded. Sounds like a smart man. It might not hurt to take a page from his book. Continue Reading →

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The tragedy of LaVena Johnson 

On watching The General’s Daughter, a tragically brilliant account of a high-ranking U.S. Army officer’s complicity in silencing his own daughter, herself an army captain, about her sexual assault to further his career, I found it a monstrous, wholly plausible story I had to be grateful was a work of fiction. On learning what in reality happened to Private First Class LaVena Johnson, there wasn’t a damned thing for which to be grateful. You can find the facts in full, appalling detail in LaVena Johnson: The Silent Truth (2010 Midtown Films). This man’s army is, in this day and age, still exactly that — a place of male privilege where the more attractive and independent a woman is, the greater risk she runs that a fellow solider or fellow soldiers will rape her and, quite possibly, murder her to cover their tracks. In 2005, 19-year-old PFC Johnson’ body was discovered on a military base in Balad, Iraq. She’d sustained a broken nose, black eye, loosened teeth, chemical burns on her private parts, and a gunshot wound to the head. U.S. Army’s finding: suicide. In other words, she beat herself half to death, poured acid between her legs, and then blew her brains out. They had the gall to deliver that finding to her family with a straight face. Continue Reading →

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Aspiring educator shares penny-pinching tips

Youth, it’s understandably said, is wasted on the young. Not, though, in the person of Vanessa Young who, at 24, is an excellent exception to the proverbial rule. She’s sensibly down to earth when it comes to the fundamental nuts and bolts of dealing with a dollar, though she feels it wouldn’t hurt to get a bit better at it. Employed this summer at Freedom School in St. Paul (she’s also a professional tutor at East Side Learning Center), Young reflects, “As a servant leader intern, it is terribly hard to budget. Continue Reading →

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Dinner goes sour

Lesli guardedly watched him as Keith coughed on a mouthful of fries, spitting out bits of short-rib. Managed to wash it down, wiping sauce from his face. He looked in his whiskey glass at specks of meat. What good mood he’d held onto since leaving the show, waiting for this shoe to drop, was gone. He sipped water and summoned the waitstaff, beckoning for the first person handy. Thinking, wasn’t this the greatest news? On this enjoyable evening? “Lesli,” he declared, taking the napkin from his lap, dabbing at the tablecloth, “long as I’ve known you, baby, girl, you full of surprises.” She sensed that was not quite meant as a compliment. Continue Reading →

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Meeting the in-laws grows complicated

That evening they stepped out on the town. They’d gone to see that revival of No Place to Be Somebody at the Apollo.  Leafing through the playbill, he’d idly suggested that it was time he met his in-laws-to-be. She had simply nodded, seriously reading hers. Going over the bios. The production was powerful. Greatly deserved the standing ovation it got. After, filing out with the crowd, they’d strolled the block or so over to Sylvia’s to have themselves a good soul food dinner. She laced her arm through his, leaning in, and said, “Honey?”

He never like it when she said that word quite that way. “What is it?”

“Now, baby, don’t be like that.”

Another dead giveaway that he wasn’t going to like whatever it was she’d eventually get around to saying. It was a good thing he was crazy about her. Continue Reading →

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Acting can help troubled youth face real-life drama

Crossroads Panorama uses theater arts to build coping skills 

 By Dwight Hobbes 
Contributing Writer 
If you’re going to salvage a community, the important populace to focus on is the young. And, face it, the urban African American community is seriously imperiled, which renders a program like Crossroads Panorama — Youth Education Through the Arts (crossroadspanorama.com) — helmed by determinedly committed Executive Director Joyce Marrie, Ph.D., a vital resource. Based, fittingly, at South Minneapolis’ venerated Sabathani Community Center, known as a community cornerstone, Crossroads Panorama utilizes the concept that the arts aren’t only for entertainment. “Creative drama therapy,” says Marrie, “provides a means by which youth can learn to take control of their feelings and engage in self-discovery. As they take a role in acting out therapeutic issues, this equips and empowers them to learn how to cope, and not only in a classroom setting but in their everyday lives. Continue Reading →

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