A coalition of Minneapolis groups focused on racial equity plans to spend the next several months scrutinizing how much progress the city, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and Minneapolis Public Schools are making toward erasing racial disparities.
Voices for Racial Justice, along with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, Hope Community, the Minneapolis NAACP and 11 other organizations plan to assemble their findings in a report card they’ll issue this fall.
In a news conference Thursday at City Hall, Vina Kay, executive director of Voices for Racial Justice, said the report will be an expanded version of the OUR MPLS report card her group has already been doing for a decade at the state level. But this time, the findings will include both the voting records of officials and evaluations from people of color.
“Our goal is simple: We will elevate the leadership and solutions that lead for racial equity in Minneapolis,” she said. “And the same community that votes will drive the research and analysis.”
Organizers said they’re looking for policy changes in housing, education and employment. They want racial equity to be part of the equation for every government decision, from hiring new staff members to deciding how to fund park improvements. The report will also include marks on high-profile topics like policing, which have been a focus in Minneapolis since the November police shooting of assault suspect Jamar Clark.
David Gilbert-Pederson, an organizer for Hope Community, said Minneapolis’ park system earns high marks when it’s scored for the traditional benchmarks of acreage, access and overall investment. But he said the system isn’t designed to work well for everyone in the Minneapolis.
“If you add economics, geography and race to the list of indicators, the story changes,” he said, “creating what so many have decried as the tale of two cities.”
Organizers intend to ask city, parks and school district leaders to provide their own assessments of their work, which will be compared to the reports gathered from residents.
Neeraj Mehta, a research director at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, said all of the groups involved in the effort believe people of color are best suited to judge how well local government is doing on equity issues.
“Communities of color in Minneapolis are not clients waiting to be served,” he said. “They are not people waiting to be saved. We are citizens, we are organized, we are powerful, we have an agenda. We’re ready, and we’re coming.”
Erin Golden • 612-673-4790