At the recent centenary commemoration of the horrific Tulsa massacre, in which enraged and misguided white townspeople burned and looted a prosperous Black neighborhood, with many deaths, President Joe Biden took the stage to insist that terrorism from white supremacy was the greatest threat to the nation ("'Now your story will be known,'" front page, June 2). At a time of deep racial and ideological division, our president should have used his bully pulpit to remind Americans of the remarkable progress we have made in the sphere of race relations. There have been periods of regression, defined by the KKK and its Democratic allies in the form of lynchings and Jim Crow laws 100 years ago. Yet, by any reasonable definition, we are a country largely free of racial animus. More Americans voted to elect and re-elect a Black man for the highest office in the land than they voted for his white opponents. Our colleges and universities deny entrance to qualified white and Asian applicants in favor of Black and brown applicants. Virtually every major institution, whether corporations, nonprofits, arts, entertainment or journalism, bends over backward to advance the interests of people of color, never mind gender. If we are a systemically racist nation, why were Black voter participation rates at all-time highs in 2018 and 2020? If we are so defined, why under the Trump administration did Black people and other minorities enjoy the lowest level of unemployment ever? It is time to ignore the race haters and instead embrace the reality that virtually all of us want to live in a society governed by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s devotion to the timeless principle that each of us is judged by the content of our character and nothing more.
Mark H. Reed, Plymouth
In response to Lee Hayes' "Solutions to violence must begin at home" (Opinion Exchange, May 28): Your article blaming and shaming parents for not being responsible for their children's actions is, I believe, coming from a viewpoint of idealism. That was not the reality of everyday life in North Side communities in the '60s, '70s and '80s to the present.
Parents were mired in alcoholism, economic hardship, drug abuse, child abuse and segregation, to name the obvious. It is presumptuous to assume that parents weren't trying with the resources available, against overwhelming odds, to have their children survive and thrive, as we all want.
On Dec. 1, 2015, I had an article published in the Star Tribune Opinion Exchange. I wrote about the Nov. 15, 2015, shooting and killing of Jamar Clark by Minneapolis police. I envisioned his death would bring an end to decades long of disintegration in his community despite personal circumstances:
An excerpt: "Clark was an individual who could not escape his ultimate outcome. The cards — the neighborhood, his upbringing, the police culture, history — were all stacked against him."
I wrote about marching on Plymouth Avenue in North Minneapolis while buildings burned after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. I wrote about working with youth in the '70s and '80s, some of whom lived where 6-year-old Aniya Allen was tragically caught in the crossfire so recently.
In my article I held naive hope that the North Side would renew itself ... a white woman's activist belief that Clark's death would be the sea change needed to bring his community to a healthier, more livable place.
I suggested there could be little change until we sat in each other's kitchens, learned about daily challenges, at least had firsthand knowledge of people's day-to-day reality and understood the intent of Black Lives Matter to start on equal footing for a difficult journey.
I am 78 years old now, living a comfortable life in the eastern suburbs but realize I need to again walk with the community, raise my voice and embrace its citizens, young and old alike. No more safe and secure sittin' in my rocking chair until we can truly see change, and until hope becomes the new normal for a community living in terror of the next day's tragedy. It will be a long walk. Please join me.
Sara J. Meyer, St. Mary's Point
In the last couple months, I've spent a handful of mornings at George Floyd Square, gathered in a circle at 8 a.m. to listen and learn and pitch in when I can. I have been amazed at the wide and generous community that has been created over the last year — many people who show up every single day and give their all. They are holding that space with integrity, passion, inclusivity, honesty, intelligence and love. Even in my limited time there, I've learned so much in watching how they work and struggle together, in hearing the stories of people who live in the community and want to protect it. They are not burning down the house, they are building a new magnificent one and demanding that the city hear their call for justice. This community deserves to continue their work at 38th and Chicago. I was appalled (though not surprised) to hear that the city essentially sneaked in during the wee hours to remove barricades and claimed to be working with the community that is holding the sacred space ("A barrier-free Floyd Square?" front page, June 4). I call on anyone who is reporting on the issues around that space to spend a few mornings there yourself and listen. You will come away with a new story.
Connie Lanphear, Minneapolis
Little justice for businesses
I can't wait to see the reporting in the paper of who's being charged with arson and looting ("Overnight vandalism, looting follow law enforcement shooting of man in Uptown Minneapolis," June 4). Is it homegrown Trumpie fanboys who want to overthrow the government, or is it Black Lives Matter folks who are against police using force to apprehend criminals? (Are folks going to set dumpsters on fire and attack police when they arrest the people who shot the Minneapolis children?) At every shooting, is everybody going to jump to conclusions like the folks downtown did when a shooting suspect committed suicide on Nicollet Mall in 2020? The guy who raced to Target that day to set it on fire got a prison term. I can't wait to see prison terms for other arsonists and looters. That's the only justice business owners in Minneapolis and St. Paul are ever going to get.
Susan Frenzel, Minneapolis
Unintentional, my foot
It was exceedingly troubling to read the following in the Star Tribune: "The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced Thursday that it has completed an 'exhaustive review' into the Rev. Kevin McDonough, concluding the former point person on clergy sex abuse for the archdiocese 'failed, albeit not intentionally, to adequately keep children safe.'" ("Church sex abuse watchdog 'failed,'" June 4.) McDonough protected predator priests when it was his specific duty to keep children safe from sexual abuse. So, no, it's not OK for the archdiocese to conclude McDonough's actions were not intentional — they happened consistently and they clearly harmed children.
Good that McDonough won't be specifically tasked with protecting children anymore — but is he going to continue to protect predators in a more limited capacity? He was part of a structure that allows sexual abuse to flourish throughout Catholic institutions — and it's not just members of the clergy who abuse. The archdiocese needs to do a lot better than simply conclude McDonough didn't intend to put children at risk.
Julie Risser, Edina
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