As I’ve been observing the violence and anger erupting in Minneapolis I’m remembering all the good times we have had in that city.
We have seen plays at the Guthrie Theatre, cheered at professional basketball, baseball and football games, visited the city’s fabulous free art gallery and enjoyed meals at amazing restaurants. We had so much fun with our boys when they were little at the Mall of America’s entertaining Lego Land.
We attended the wedding of friends in Minneapolis a few years ago which was held in a lovely little historic church and had such a special weekend.
Minneapolis is a marvellous place but the New York Times this morning reminds everyone that while Minneapolis does have a rich cultural scene and one of America’s highest standards of living, decades of government decisions have discriminated against black citizens. Loan programs for buying homes have favoured white Minnesotans. In order to facilitate new infrastructure black neighbourhoods have been razed. The police force is predominantly white. According to another article in the New York Times, disparities in employment, poverty and education between people of colour and white residents in Minneapolis are among the worst in the country. I worked for the Mennonite Church as a volunteer in a Minneapolis inner-city playground program one summer more than fifty years ago and know first hand those injustices are long-standing.
The last few days I keep thinking about something my husband told me about the race riots in Detroit in 1967 during which some forty people died, thousands were injured and thousands of building were burned.
Dave’s family had a vegetable farm just across the border from Detroit in southern Ontario and when they were working in their fields they could see the smoke from the burning buildings in Detroit billowing in the sky. It reminded them of just how close they were to a place filled with anger over racial injustice and inequality.
I think we would do well to let the ‘smoke’ we are seeing on our television and computer screens and in our newspapers remind us of how ‘close’ we are here in Manitoba to the same kind of injustice and inequality that is fueling the current violence just across our border in the United States. Injustices like……
Manitoba indigenous men represent 15% of our general population and 75% of our prison population. Source
90% of the children in foster care in Manitoba are indigenous. Source
Indigenous children living in Manitoba are the most impoverished in Canada Source
There are Manitoba First Nation reserves with no indoor plumbing and no clean water supply. Source
Gordon Lightfoot wrote a famous song about the riots in Detroit in 1967 called Black Day in July. Sadly lines from the song still resonate more than fifty years later.
And the streets begin to fill
And there’s gunfire from the rooftops
And the blood begins to spill