In his column, “With malice toward all, with charity for none” (June 21), D.J. Tice referenced a tweet I posted about the removal of the portrait of Abraham Lincoln from the State Capitol chambers, the place where representatives from every corner of our state set policy for all of Minnesota.

I am a staunch advocate of equity and social justice, and much of this work requires a well-researched reflection on past practices and the historical premise of current practices.

For example, I see terrible inequities across every sector of our social institutions. I’ve been an educator for two decades, and I see every day how we fail to support students’ basic educational needs. I believe it is my responsibility to work as hard as I can to advocate for equitable funding and resources for our students and their families.

My views and work also are informed by my Native heritage and the generational trauma inflicted on our American Indian peoples. This compels me to share my voice and add to the incomplete narrative about socioeconomic disparities and injustices that undergird the current social unrest in our communities, here in Minnesota and across the world.

As Tice notes, “History is complicated. Life is complicated. Society is complicated. Justice is complicated.” His judgment on the history of the Dakota people in Minnesota, however, seems to ignore this complexity.

I advocate for a fuller discussion and examination of the facts and circumstances that have informed a legacy of inequities and injustices that continue to be inflicted on our people of color. When we are handed an opportunity to bring limited understandings to light, we need to take that “teachable moment” and embrace those unexpected events to work on lasting change by reforming that structural scaffold.

Tice also asks, “But are we, then, entitled to judge our forebears as harshly as we do?” I look at history through the lens of the pernicious inequities and injustices that have wrought the havoc we are experiencing globally today. Far from malice, my vision for the future is focused on mending cultural tears, repairing inequities and creating a more inclusive society for all Minnesota.

That is my vision, that is my mission.


Mary Kunesh-Podein, DFL-New Brighton, is a member of the Minnesota House.