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Looking for Helpers in Minneapolis

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

Dark Nights for the Twin Cities

The above video was from Steve Hartman's On The Road series and was filmed shortly after the Manchester, England arena bombing.


You would have to be living under a rock with a blindfold and earplugs to not realize that there has been an avoidable tragedy within the Twin Cities recently. An African-American man has died while in the custody of police, and riots and overall civil unrest has been an answer to this tragedy.

We cannot change the devastating decisions made by the police while taking an unarmed black man into custody for the possibility of him having used a counterfeit 20 dollar bill in order to purchase cigarettes. We cannot change the sickening reality of the fact that our beautiful state of Minnesota, usually known for peaceful protest and socially aware people has made the news in a negative way and in a dark moment in our history.

However, the fact that we cannot change the decisions made by the police officers who took George Floyd into custody does not mean that we cannot change overall. In fact, I would surmise that change is desperately needed and we need to find inventive, appropriate ways in which to affect that change.

First and foremost, we can become helpers. There are several ways that we can become involved even from a distance. I suggest becoming a helper at home, first. It's time to have a discussion at home about how each of us sees a person of color, a gay person, a transsexual person, a Jewish person, or a Muslim individual. More so, it's time to take a personal inventory regarding our thoughts about people who are bald, overweight individuals, retired and graying individuals, and individuals with special needs.

It's time to ask: "What is my initial impression of these people?" and then follow it with: "Is my initial impression based on fact or feeling?" In the 21st Century, we seem to jump to conclusions, we look for those who are different from us, and then we create a barrier.

Next, it's time to ask: "If I have created a barrier, what can I do to decrease this divide? What steps can I take that will allow me to see things differently?"

When I was student teaching, I learned about Whitwell Middle School in Tennessee and their quest to learn about prejudice within the frameworks and contextual issues related to the Holocaust. This project was filmed and the above clip was a trailer from that film. My plan with my own family and friends is to watch this film in its entirety again as an effort to learn about our own concepts of bias and associated injustices and how we can be better individuals.

There's always something we can do. We can tear down a supermarket, a fast-food store, or a shop on Lake Street in Minneapolis and we can destroy someone's livelihood in the process. However, that will only create more barriers, more harm, more violence and more injustice of a destructive nature.

The Minnesota I live in is better than that; I want to learn from this and become better about not jumping to conclusions about anyone, about being more tolerant, about understanding the divisive nature of anger, and about learning how we can move on from this very dark chapter with a new, vibrant concept of change and tolerance. They say that in order to learn, we must have an understanding that we have a deficit in our fund of knowledge. In order to remedy that deficit, we open our minds and our hearts with the other important understanding: this will not be easy.



In closing, here are some links that may be helpful as we all move forward:


Let's resolve to become the helpers that are so desperately needed in this life.

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