Survey Results: What Do You Fear?

Minnesota Women’s Press conducted a virtual statewide survey to ask Minnesotans about their current fears.

In total, we received 214 responses. Most comments were made anonymously, with a few who gave permission to use their name and location. The following comments do not necessarily reflect the views of Minnesota Women’s Press or its staff. Each paragraph is from a different person.

Political Polarization

I fear we could easily move into a totalitarian government and lose democracy. This is my greatest fear.

Misinformation and disinformation are so rampant, and people so vulnerable, that I do worry about where we are headed, and our ability to change course.

Voting rights being destroyed, rights being diminished, the stress of losing democracy. — Jackie Lannin, Saint Paul

I should not have to worry that one political party is going to block the other from doing things we need to do (infrastructure, social programs, protecting the environment).

Climate Change

The U.S. contributes way more greenhouse gases per capita than any other country, yet our economic system is set up for us to fail at mitigating climate change.

Raising a school-aged child during a pandemic, on a dying planet, amidst increasing gun violence nationwide is unbearably hard some days. At the moment I have consciously chosen to continue making a living in a materialistic industry contributing to climate catastrophe so I can afford to support charities helping the homeless and marginalized — while my government should have been taxing the rich decades ago and doing that work instead of me.

Not knowing if my child with special needs will grow up to have enough air or water or food or safety is very nerve-shattering. — Lindalee Soderstrom, Saint Charles

If we don’t have a planet we can live

on, all other important issues become moot.

I am a climate migrant from another part of the country and the same issues I had there were happening here this summer. It is something I worry very deeply about.

I worry about climate change, our deteriorating democracy, a right-wing authoritarian take-over, police violence, and how white people — even us “liberal” DFLers — contribute to this, actively and passively and in service of maintaining our “innocence.” In terms of most of my fears, my fellow white people are the problem.— Lynnell Mickelsen, Minneapolis



Gun Violence

Too many guns. I was raised in a sports hunting family; lack of regulations and the sheer number of guns is outrageous.

This past fall I was in the middle of gun violence. This one event changed my outlook on my life. I might be homeless, yet thankfully I am on Section 8. This places a roof over my head. I might be unable to buy food next week, yet thankfully I am able to go to the local library and print out forms to apply for SNAP and to go to local food shelves. As I write this, I am crying because with gun violence there is no person to date that has come up with a creative solution for my community. Who will take the lead in our Minneapolis community? How will they bring gun violence to zero shots fired? Who will be the Changemaker(s)?

My mom was killed in a mass shooting. It seems like they are becoming more prevalent and that is terrifying to me when I think about it.

The constant shootings concern me more than the mass shootings. Guns, everywhere


Hate Crimes/White Supremacists

Racism is uppermost in my mind because it affects human relationships, economics, housing, health care, immigration, and safety from white supremacists.

As a trans woman, I rarely experience discrimination; however, the threat of violence by some bigoted nut job is a possibility, particularly in Trump country.

They are the obvious, less scary to me than those who hate with greater subtlety.

Mental Health

I think my generation (Gen Z) have a serious problem with this; we are all struggling with our own mental health concerns and then are constantly worried about our friends. It feels like we all know someone who has attempted or committed suicide or has self harmed. It is a huge burden. — Sophie, Mankato

The U.S. and its laissez faire response to mental illness is criminal in its abdication of responsibility. We all suffer — and pay — because of it.



Medical Expenses/ Serious Illness

With a high-deductible health plan, a major surgery for my son, and ongoing mental health needs for family, paying medical expenses is high on the anxiety list. I would love to see the U.S. move to socialized health care. — Sandi, Duluth

I do not want to get sick and I do not want to be alone.

Every non-wealthy American, even if insured, is at risk of bankruptcy due to medical bills following serious illness or injury. It has happened to friends and it could happen to me. I worry about this and at the same time know there is nothing I can do to prevent it other than invest in building community and caring networks.

Child Safety

With two young girls, it is sad and complex to empower them that they are not the problem, but that they need to be careful. — Mónica, Minneapolis

I worry about the safety of all children. No support, parents overworked and under great stress. Social factors and no community support for families or children.

Economic/Job Security

It is a true joy, she said, dripping sarcasm, to be laid off at 60 from a state job, only to be told you cannot take your full state pension for another six years. What the hell am I supposed to do to survive? — Lisa, Duluth

The lack of protection for workers is appalling to me.

900,000 Minnesotans [carry student loan] debt. People who face the brunt of the debt crisis are women, and women of color specifically.

Money, lack of money, never having enough money. Everything costs so much. Will I ever be able to retire? Living paycheck to paycheck and working my ass off.

Being able to look after my basic needs should not be such a concern and yet with how our current wages and cost of living are set, it has become a major concern. I am afraid that one major crisis could ruin me.



Deportation

Deportation is a reality because of the people around me. Seeing it in the media amplifies this reality. — Denisse Santiago Ojeda, Minneapolis

Our policy is broken and discriminatory in a most egregious way. It is neither fair nor just. As an immigration court observer for those being tried for deportation, I am seeing the heart of this system and can only hope that by observing the process, some good will come out of it for those who should not be deported. — Nan, Bloomington

Police

I have a BIPOC teen with autism and live in Minneapolis. If he had a public meltdown and needed help with de-escalating emotions in front of the police, I have lost all faith that most officers are trained or would try anything but reasoning (which neurologically does not work) or use force. I have never felt less safe around police than I do now.

Police brutality is a huge worry for me.

I cannot talk to neighbors and colleagues who cannot or are not willing to see racial bias in my neighborhood.

I live in Minneapolis and I feel like I am being held hostage by this city’s inability to enact real police reform. This is a very deep concern.

I do not trust police to respect the law and human rights. I have seen how they treat peaceful protesters and innocent people, and I know someone who died as a result of his injuries from “nonlethal” munitions. My race, gender, and class privilege might make me somewhat safer in general, but even those “protections” vanish if one is protesting or does something, even inadvertently, to displease an officer.

I am concerned about what our culture is doing to law enforcement and their mental health and ability to continue to serve under these conditions.

Death

I do not fear death so much as the suffering that could precede it, as well as possible unavailability of help.

Civil Unrest

I believe uprisings and protests are forms of public grief that should be provided with care by meeting basic needs: food, water, bathrooms, counseling spaces, grief and trauma therapists/chaplains, and clear communication, rather than a militarized response.

The uprisings of last year were understandable and important and also traumatizing. We watched our neighborhoods burn and outsiders

terrorized us, and no one came to help. We were on our own.

Inability to Have Safe and Affordable Housing

Middle class people are being priced out of the city. I have rented in my neighborhood for 20-plus years but cannot afford to buy a house here or to rent in any of the newer buildings. If my landlord sells, I might have to move out of the city.

I am homeless. I have a chemical injury so it is extremely difficult to find a place to live that not only does not make me sicker, but that I am able to afford with disability pay. I am not able to meet my basic needs. Society is set up, I have learned, to only work for those able to conform.

Isolation

Minnesota is the least friendly place I have lived in as an adult (out of five states) and the place I have the least close friendships. There is a lot to do here, but everyone is strangely entrenched in their own childhood friendships so there is nobody to do anything with.

I am getting older and isolation is a real and present threat.



1 Comment

  • Linda K Hopkins

    After reviewing the results of your poll, It appears that there are broad topics which contains elements of many lesser fears. For example, concern about Political Polarization (widely held) includes elements of White Supremacy, Discrimination, ( an inability to protect from) Climate Change, and Mental Health. Worries about Climate Change include elements about Economic challenges, and mental health. White Supremacy fears include elements of Gun Violence, Discrimination, Economic challenges, Mass Shootings, and political polarization. And, then there are concerns about Medical Expenses, containing elements of economic insecurity, isolation, mental health, and political polarization.
    The largest challenge to my way of thinking is Political Polarization because it prevents the country from addressing problems of Discrimination, White Supremacy, Gun Violence, Medical and Mental Health fears, and Economic Insecurities. We can never solve universal problems to our mental, emotional, and physical needs when a political party continues to encourage life-endangering ways of coping with the future.

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