Give African Americans a fair shot at success

MSR Editorial

An open letter to Governor Mark Dayton


My name is Willie Johnson. I am not a politician, I am just a citizen. I have never written to a politician before. Sir, you are the first one.

Personally, to me other governors before you lacked political luster. Jesse Ventura wasn’t bad as a governor, but there hasn’t been since Hubert Humphrey, Sr. a governor that has had such great political intellect.

Unlike Mitt Romney, you understand the here and now of our modern times. You are not afraid to face the challenges of governing. It takes a man to comprehend and be in tune with his constituents. I congratulate you.

Governor Dayton, as an African American man living in Minnesota, it is rough having to deal with the contrasting ideology of our society toward fair play of African American men. There seems to be no logical foundation based on due process of law and decency.

We as African Americans can’t compete with White monopolies’ business practices. It feels like we are being shut out as business owners from competing with the majority business owners. We, as minority business owners need your leadership to have a fair chance against White monopolies.

The state of the African American community is in shambles. The African American neighborhoods are being ransacked by greed and corruption. Nothing is being put back into these neighborhoods by the people who are doing the ransacking. It is an abomination how long this has been going on and nothing is being said or done.

Too many African Americans are lost in the wilderness of drug abuse and economic despair. The majority of African Americans in the state of Minnesota are not apathetic. The reason it seems like we are is because of the fact that we don’t get fair chances at good jobs. The majority of African Americans are hardworking, God-fearing people.

Governor Dayton, we know we must push the reset button on the negative stigma the African American community has. The policies in place by the Republican Party are downright tragic for growth of African American business owners, and more importantly for the community.

I know that we African Americans still have a mountain of ideas that will enrich Minnesota through hard work and effort. It feels like we are wasting our resources. There are more of us than the negative stigma portrayed by mainstream media. We just need and want opportunities.

It is not so much about education, per se. Whatever happened to where experience mattered? It can’t be said that African Americans of the state haven’t been patient. For years now, our ideas have been put on the back burner of the political agenda. Our hands are being cut off from business opportunities. We need action, not just talk, in the legislature.

Sticks and stones may break the bones, but words can and do hurt. We constantly get a media beat-down on what happens negatively in the neighborhood. We would like some light shown on what is positive in the neighborhood and communities. Has the dialogue between the state legislature and the leaders of the African American community been exhausted to such a point where we can no longer compromise ideas?

I plead to you, Governor Dayton, for the sake of the African Americans in the state of Minnesota, to have your cabinet look into companies that work for the State, which doesn’t have a good diversity of minorities among their staffs. I feel a lot of discrimination is happening with these companies because I don’t see diversity among the workers.

Hopefully, with the new public project, the Vikings’ stadium, African American contractors can get some work on this project without having to go through a ton of red tape. All I’m asking for is a fair opportunity.

I know, Governor Dayton, that you are a good and a fine leader of the state. I see it through your policies. It was very honorable of you to put the first African American woman on the State Supreme Court. Don’t let the Republican Party rattle you. They are only haters that the fine people of Minnesota made you our leader.

Let us Minnesotans put one foot ahead of the other, and hopefully we can work our way into a better and brighter Minnesota, a state where everyone’s ambitions can be given a fair shot at success. Governor Dayton, we need you to make this happen.


Willie Johnson lives in Minneapolis