Minnesota has had its share of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in 2018. The good includes historic elections and appointments, including the election of a Black attorney general for the first time in the state’s history. The 5th Congressional District elected another Muslim to represent its political future.
St. Paul’s first Black mayor took office, while Minneapolis appointed its first African American police chief to his first full term. Hennepin County voters also elected the first African American and Latino commissioners to the county’s board.
The U.S. Senate passed a sweeping criminal justice bill addressing concerns of unfair sentencing and of inadequately preparing federal prisoners (which account 10 percent of the U.S. prison population) for their return to society. We look forward to seeing how, in 2019, this reform will be adopted for prisoners in state, city and county prisons and jails, as well.
In economics, African American leadership touted the Black community’s growing economic prosperity, including its part of the $450 million in profits from the 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis, as reported by the Star Tribune and the Super Bowl host committee.
Though we have yet to see the documented verification of their numbers, it is anticipated that 2019 will continue this growing economic prosperity for Black Minnesotans. Minnesota will again host the NCAA Final Four national basketball championship in the people’s stadium.
But what about the other side of the coin? Minnesota was also full of bad and ugly moments in 2018.
This includes African American men dying on the streets of this city due to officer-involved shootings. African Americans are also suffering through an extremely dangerous period of drug-related deaths throughout the entire state (as well as the other 49 states).
Some say gun violence is on the decline. I question that because so many shootings are not reported. At times, the East Side of St. Paul sounds like its own series of Spaghetti Westerns set in post-Civil War Dodge City and Abilene, Kansas. The North and South sides of Minneapolis sometimes sound like the 1881 Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Ariz.
Today’s political leaders say they are addressing problems. What does that mean? Is there a plan or a solution or a beacon of light somewhere on the horizon? We must listen closely to the sounds and statements of pain from the loved ones of the victims. We must pay attention to the shadow of threats that they must live under in their neighborhoods, including jobs (“Blacks need not apply”), education (near “separate but equal” again), and housing (not enough for lower incomes).
And, we’re still awaiting certified documentation of all the reported job development claims for African Americans working on major construction and new business projects. How accurate are the spoon-fed alleged stories of success?
As a journalist and historian, I strive to cover the good on one side and the bad and ugly on the other. We need more stories from both sides of the coin, supported by fact, as we address issues as team players working together and acknowledging both successes and failures.
In 2019, I look forward to addressing how to increase the good and decrease the bad and the ugly, reaching out for what President Abraham Lincoln called cooperating to become united.