In the News: October 2020

Racism Is a Public Health Crisis

A new House Select Committee on Racial Justice has been formed to examine disparities that Minnesotans of color face regarding health, public safety, education, employment, housing, and other areas. Rep. Ruth Richardson (Mendota Heights) and Rep. Rena Moran (St. Paul) will co-chair the committee. Rep. Lisa Demuth (Cold Spring) will serve as vice chair. Other members of the task force are from Roseville, International Falls, Edina, Spring Lake Park, Cohasset, Minneapolis, North Branch, Woodbury, and Grove City. 

In July, the House approved a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis in Minnesota, noting more than 100 studies have linked racism to worse health outcomes, especially in Black and Indigenous communities. 


Gatekeeping Education 

The Mapping Prejudice project has been uncovering the history of racial gatekeeping in Hennepin County property. Its website now offers an educator’s guide about the mapping of structural racism, which reinforced roots of disparities in education, healthcare, employment, and home ownership that continue today. 

One common restriction embedded in Hennepin County property deeds, starting in the early 1900s, declared that the “premises shall not at any time be conveyed, mortgaged or leased to any person or persons of Chinese, Japanese, Moorish, Turkish, Negro, Mongolian or African blood or descent.” These restrictions were not banned by the Minnesota legislature until 1962.

Today, Minnesota has the lowest rate of Black homeownership in the country: 78 percent of white families own homes in the Twin Cities, compared to 25 percent of Black families. 

Park districts also barred people of color from living nearby. Today, communities of color are more likely to live near environmental hazards where air quality is poor, making residents vulnerable to asthma and COVID-19. 

Weekly forums about the project mobilize volunteers to help expand data about Ramsey County’s racial covenants.


Police Response

Graphic created by Soapbox depicts how race factors into police force

The Border Line

Reveal’s “Kids on the Line” series looks at stories about the ongoing separation of children from their parents who are seeking asylum in the U.S. because of violence and lack of opportunities in their home countries. “The Disappeared,” for example, is about a 17-year-old girl who has been in immigration custody alone since she was 10. Since then, she has been “shuttled back and forth between shelters and foster homes across the United States, from Oregon to Massachusetts to Texas to Florida, and back to Texas and Oregon again.”


#MeToo Music for Minnesota

A compilation album called METOOMPLS releases on October 2 featuring musicians who were asked to write and perform a song on the subject of #MeToo. The project began after stories came out a few months ago about sexual assault and discrimination in the Twin Cities music scene. 

Artists include Chastity Brown, Mary Bue, Annie Mack, and many others. 


Who Got Payroll Protection?

According to a Financial Times analysis of the recent Payroll Protection Plan, the original tally was that the program had granted nearly 4.9 million loans between April and June, supporting 51 million jobs. However, one estimate is that the jobs saved for employees was no more than 14 million, partly due to improprieties. 

Lawmakers pressured the Small Business Administration to open records for nearly 700,000 loans that exceeded $150,000. About 5,000 applicants have been reported as suspicious. Three oversight agencies have been set up to investigate whether taxpayers got value for the money.

Details: The Financial Times