Friday, February 26, 2016

"We've Become the New South"

By Joe Kruse

"We've become the New South." These words lodged in me like a thorn. The phrase comes back to me every time I see a statistic explicating the worst-in-the-nation racial disparities stitched into Minneapolis’s social and economic fabric. It comes back to me every time I think about Jamar Clark, who was killed this past Fall by Minneapolis police. Almost all the witnesses said he was handcuffed when he was shot.

In an article from last Spring, Anthony Newby, executive director of a local social change organization called Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, was quoted saying, "We've become the new South . . . We've become the new premiere example of how to systematically oppress people of color."

For years I understood Minnesota to be a bastion of liberal politics. I thought that our "progressive" ideologies saved us from bigotry and violent racism, things I often associated with the Deep South.

But recently I've come to understand more clearly the covert but brutal qualities of Minnesotan racism. Our racism is masked by colorblind language and "progressive" state and local policies that distribute wealth primarily within white communities. Our racism is propagated by fear of confrontation and awkward conversations around race. It thrives on the silence upheld by the myth of "Minnesota Nice." While the South had Jim Crow policies for decades that ensured the subjugation of people of color, Minneapolis has the over-policing of the Northside and other communities of color that result in systemic repression through mass incarceration. In our city black people and American Indians and nine times more likely to be arrested for low-level offenses then white people. (For more information, see the ACLU’s report about Minneapolis called Picking up the Pieces.)

In the face of these violent inequalities, I am honored that our community will be hosting the 2016 Midwest Catholic Worker Faith and Resistance Retreat in conjunction with Black Lives Matter (BLM) Minneapolis. Each year one Midwest Catholic Worker community hosts a gathering of Catholic Workers from all over the region who come to work on the hosting community's project or campaign.

This year the Minneapolis Catholic Worker is hosting the Faith and Resistance Retreat [April 8-12] and will be working with BLM Minneapolis to ensure that the work we will do at our retreat will benefit the organizing goals of BLM locally. We are so excited to offer up this tradition of our Movement to support the incredible work of BLM Minneapolis. [NOTE: For more information and to register for the 2016 Midwest Catholic Worker Faith and Resistance Retreat click here.]

It is very important that this retreat is led by organizers of color embedded in the BLM Minneapolis leadership. These brilliant organizers are overworked and underpaid. Part of our work is to pay them equitably for their time and expertise. To do that we need to raise $7,000, and we need your help! This money will both go to support the work that happens at our retreat, but will also go to support organizers who have been putting in countless unpaid hours leading historic direct action campaigns in our city. It is high time these folks get some compensation for their momentous social change work, and we are in the fortunate place to help make that happen. We also need funds to pay for food and housing for the Catholic Workers who are coming to Minneapolis for the retreat. Many of these people are committed to living lives of voluntary simplicity and without a place to stay, would not be able to afford a hotel or other accommodation.

So we ask, again, that you give what you are able. Whether its $10 or $100, all gifts make a huge different in the work that we will do. We find now that we are living in a revolutionary moment similar in scale and importance to what unfolded in the American South in the 1960s. Thanks to the work of BLM and other black liberation organizations, there has been a national awakening around the current state of American racism. Helping us put on this retreat, ensuring that these incredible organizers are compensated for their necessary work, will help maintain this social change movement.

We ask you join us in supporting the unfolding social transformation.

Thank you so much for your support.

Peace and Love,

Joe Kruse and the The Minneapolis Catholic Worker

NOTE: Please make checks out to the Rye House and put FARR or Retreat in the memo. Mail checks to 2204 10th Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55404.

Any questions? Call 302-729-3643.

1 comment: