In his July 26 commentary “Minnesota’s urban-rural divide is no lie,” Lawrence R. Jacobs would have us believe Minnesota’s racial discrimination is isolated to Minneapolis, and that it only blossomed during the intensive housing discrimination kicked off in the 1950s.
Jacobs states that many parts of greater Minnesota remain 95% white but says nothing of how that came to pass, as if people of color simply had no desire to live in Minnesota’s smaller communities, or as if greater Minnesota hasn’t had its share of sundown towns (see “Book, website track history of racist ‘sundown towns’ in Minnesota, U.S.,” July 28, 2018).
This learned man lets stand the misconception that “white privilege” implies white citizens haven’t worked for what they have. In fact, “white privilege” describes the umbrella of benefits white citizens have received via the systemic/institutional barring of nonwhites’ access to resources and opportunities. Government, industry and individual citizens all reinforced those barriers. Violently, when resisted.
Jacobs appeals to our “shared destiny,” but it’s crucial to remember that communities of color have always borne the ugly brunt of America’s — and Minnesota’s — ”shared destiny.” What Jacobs characterizes as Minneapolis values, 612 values, liberal values and a “curious blind spot about triggering white identity” is actually an effort to address four centuries of white supremacy’s tipping the scales.
Two excellent resources for history about racial segregation in Minnesota: “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America,” by Richard Rothstein (2017, Liveright Publishing), and “The Relentless Business of Treaties: How Indigenous Land Became U.S. Property,” by Martin Case (2018, Minnesota Historical Society Press).
Teresa Klotz, Minneapolis
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I daresay that if I wrote an opinion piece about “320 values” and characterized the entire region encompassed by that area code as being an out-of-touch monolithic block of unapologetic racist Donald Trump supporters who chant “send her back” about nonwhite U.S. citizens and line their pockets with the billions of taxpayer-funded agricultural price supports that overwhelmingly go to non-metro businesses, Jacobs would say I was guilty of unjustified and slanderous stereotyping.
And he would be right. There is no such thing as “320 values,” and to characterize the region as hostile to the rest of Minnesota on the basis of a hot-button single issue would be grossly inaccurate. But apparently it’s OK for the Jacobs, the esteemed holder of the Walter F. and Joan Mondale chair for political studies and director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the Hubert H. Humphrey School at our great University of Minnesota, to use a right-wing-generated political attack trope instead of data-based analysis to mindlessly brand the most diverse geographic area in the state — by economics, race, age, culture and even by politics compared with many areas of rural Minnesota — as a cadre of white rich out-of-touch liberals. “612 values”? Really? What’s next — a piece on the need to address the fake media’s unfair treatment of the president’s veracity, or a reconsideration of the Tobacco Institute’s scientific evidence on smoking and cancer?
Brian Ross, Minneapolis
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Kudos to Prof.Jacobs for his clearheaded analysis of the great (and growing) political and cultural divide between greater Minnesota and Minneapolis, or “612 Minnesota.” He lost me a bit with his concluding “gee, can’t we just all get along” conclusion, but I’m not sure there is a ready resolution as long as the left in the DFL Party keeps its current set of blinders on. This split has been a slow build, and those of us following politics statewide have seen nearly 20 years of history leading up to this situation. Any changes or reversals are likely to be equally slow in coming.
To some degree, the situation is becoming more like Wisconsin, where the liberal enclave of Madison is jokingly referred to as being “a charming 30 square miles surrounded by reality.”
Jacobs clearly avoided projecting his conclusions beyond the borders of our state, but it is tempting to do.
I wonder when Democrats will take a hard look at the optics of an octogenarian congressional leadership from two of the most liberal constituencies on opposite coasts. And, as pointed out in Steve Sack’s editorial cartoon the same day, the “Squad” is the gift that keeps on giving for Republicans. Donald Trump is probably starting to think he’ll hardly have to work to get re-elected.
Who’d’ve seen this coming?
Fritz Knaak, White Bear Lake
The writer was an Independent Republican member of the Minnesota Senate from 1983 to 1992.
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Jacobs declares that white privilege doesn’t exist because some rural white people live in poverty. He doesn’t understand what white privilege is.
The economic hardship and oppression in rural Minnesota is very real; it is unjust and needs to be solved. Poverty is very common in cities, too. But white people in poverty still have racial privilege. Economic oppression is not the same as racial oppression.
White privilege doesn’t mean being rich. It means that white men don’t worry that the police will pull them over and maybe shoot while they drive home at night. But black families continue to lose fathers, husbands, brothers and sons to random murder. It means that white women aren’t routinely abducted and never seen again. But thousands of Native women have disappeared and the police do not investigate. White privilege means most white people (but not all!) have homes on land stolen from Native Americans. But thousands of Natives are homeless in Minneapolis. It means getting jobs building oil pipelines that spill toxic waste in black and Native neighborhoods. White privilege makes it easy to vote for politicians who lock thousands of refugee children in cages. After all, white children aren’t being kidnapped.
It means we get to ignore racism, because it isn’t killing us.
Ellen Schousboe, Edina
DEBTS AND DEFICITS
Make those growing numbers as prominent as a weather report
Thank you! The July 26 editorial on the deficit and debt (“A welcome but worrisome debt deal”) was long overdue. Each completed administration since 2000 essentially doubled the national debt, and if the current administration is granted another term, it will probably do the same.
Despite what new monetary theorists contend, this can’t be good. Our children and grandchildren will not be able to afford the interest on the debt much less retire any of the debt.
I challenge the Star Tribune to keep this issue at the forefront of citizens’ minds by:
• Publicizing the amount of the national debt at the start of day and the projected amount the government will spend that day below it right under the date in the upper-left corner of the front page of the paper. Even if you only did this once a week, it would help.
• Be tougher on every politician seeking national office requiring them to explain their position on the deficit and debt. With the left proposing trillions of new spending and the right proposing trillions in tax cuts, the voters need to know how candidates propose to finance their initiatives.
We should not misinterpret last week’s agreement on the debt ceiling as a bipartisan coming-together to solve this problem. The agreement was cover for both parties continue their malfeasance on spending and taxes. In the highly partisan environment in Washington, only a bipartisan or nonpartisan grassroots movement will persuade law makers to solve the problem, not perpetuate it.
Nicholas LaFontaine, Richfield