Ezekiel 36: 25–26: I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Hannah Kuether, Thursday May 28
Good morning, everyone. Falling asleep to the sound of helicopters and waking up to that same sound accompanied by the smell of burnt rubber is not something I imagined in my idyllic South Minneapolis life, living several blocks away from the hub of Lake and Hiawatha. I’m utterly overwhelmed.
I am focusing on not judging looters or protesters, although my fear of transmitting COVID to my in-laws is preventing me from joining at all. I will start by focusing my attention on the powers that be. My voice as a white woman has power I don’t often flex and I hope I have the courage and thoughtfulness to channel it toward the city of Minneapolis, Attorney Mike Freeman, folks in charge of the budget. I’ve spent more work hours than I’d like to admit the past few days reading MPD 150 and Black Vision and I am learning so much.
What a time to be alive. I’m glad I’m in this world and this fight with all of you.
Tim Danz, Friday May 29
I write a message to my students every day. Lately it’s been a morning email. Today I post it here. I want to expand my classroom.
Good morning. It’s a tough morning – it’s a morning that needs leadership. Today people are going to wake up and make one of two choices. They’re either going to stay positive and continue to keep working or they’ll shrug their shoulders and say, “What can I do?” There’s a lot to do. First, take care of yourself. I hope you all stayed home safe yesterday. Today you need to do the same. Stay with family, stay with neighbors, stay home. I biked up University Avenue close to my home this morning. There are still buildings burning, there are still people looting. It’s not safe along University, and Lake Street in Minneapolis is worse. Stay away – nothing good here. There are also people cleaning – sweeping the glass – boarding up the windows – rebuilding already.
Second, ask questions – read about what happened. Why did this happen? Be careful not to judge others right now. We don’t know all of the whys, do we? Make sure you have true information. There are a lot of lies on social media.
Third, do something good for yourself and others today. Read, do school work, help around the house with the cleaning or cooking. If your neighborhood got hit last night take a broom and sweep the sidewalk, pick up trash. You’ll feel better and our town will start to heal.
Fourth, be kind – go out of your way to make someone smile. Be positive – it’ll get better. These have been really hard days and we have more hard days ahead of us. I’m struck by two things today. Some people on the planet live with this kind of violence and fear every day. Some people in our community are showing the pain they have suffered their entire life. I don’t know what I can do about the first one, right now. The second one I can help with.
I will listen. Right now, I need to understand the suffering that my neighbors in this city have dealt with. I will speak up. I’ve written to city and state officials the last three days demanding they take action and help bring peace to our city. I think the first thing to do to help with that is to arrest the officers that killed George Floyd. I have stood at the corner of Snelling and Selby and at the corner of Snelling and Marshall with signs asking for justice. I’ve remained peaceful and quiet. I will help feed people today (I’ve helped start a food pantry in my church’s neighborhood). I will teach today. I could use a few students today – want to talk and teach each other today? I care for all of you. I know I need you today more than ever! I need you to take over this world and help it heal! It’s not a job you signed up for. It hasn’t been well cared for. We’ve made a mess of it. You, though, are the world’s future. You are my hope. I’m going to walk you forward. I’m going to cheer you. I’m going to trust you. I’m going to care for you.
Peace today. Peace tomorrow. Peace forever
Linda Valerian, Sunday May 31
9:27 p.m. My second night of being eyes and ears as part of our neighborhood watch, from 9-11pm. It’s a lovely night, really. Warm but not too warm. Mostly what I’m watching for and reporting to 911 are any suspicious vehicles coming through the neighborhood. Some of the bad guys are driving stolen cars with no license plates, driving away from the protests. When they are caught, the news reports they have rocks, bricks, other things to cause mayhem. I reported one car last night, and my neighbors reported two or three others later on in the early hours. The noise of helicopters blends with the other night noises of crickets, birds, and squirrels jabbering at one another. Definitely quieter tonight so far. A huge, coordinated law enforcement effort is enforcing the curfew for the second night. I’m again grateful to have you with me. These are emotionally exhausting times.
11.27 p.m. My second night as part of our neighborhood watch is now over, and I’m back inside my house. Everything was calm except for neighbors examining their shrubbery to make sure there were no bottles of kerosene hidden there. Good God! A week ago, if someone told me I’d be checking the bushes in my little yard for hidden caches of flammables, ‘’d have thought they were on something. “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” – HH Dalai Lama
Greg Hubinger, Tuesday June 2
I generally accept Jane’s words about white privilege, and I internalize the concept that our whiteness even protects us. Lisa and I went to one of the protest gatherings in south Minneapolis over the weekend, with nary a thought about our safety. We gathered at the intersection of 31st and Nicollet, with several buildings collapsed and still smoldering nearby. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people crowded in; the speakers only had a small bullhorn, so everyone pressed in to hear. No social distancing, but amazingly, nearly 100 percent had their masks on. How scary can it be when people chant one of Walz’s favorite sayings “One Minnesota!” (after the pertinent “No justice, no peace,” and “Arrest all four”).
Then, Sunday night, Lisa and I were on a Zoom call with her siblings and mother (seven cameras in all), when Zach called to say he was “alright.” We said that was great, but asked why he felt the need to tell us that. He said he was afraid we’d see the news and worry. It turned out he was on the 35W bridge with the throngs of protesters, and was within 20 feet of the tanker truck. Suddenly, our white privilege shield didn’t feel so protective and powerful. That incident could have killed or injured hundreds of innocent advocates for peace and justice, including our son. And for a moment, anyway, I think we felt as vulnerable as the people we have been protesting with. I don’t know what to make of this.
Some of us have been reading and discussing Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. Honestly, I’ve been surprised to be enjoying this book. It’s tough subject matter. But DiAngelo’s writing style is so accessible, and DiAngelo asks questions that challenge my thinking, my reactions, my past actions, and my present and future commitments to action. Listen now, to Robin DiAngelo:
White fragility . . . is a crucial concept that inspires us to think more deeply about how white [people] understand their whiteness and react defensively to being called to account for how that whiteness has gone under the radar of race for far too long. . . . The key to moving forward is what we do with our discomfort [particularly when terms are ascribed to us like racism, white privilege, white solidarity and white supremacy]. We can use [our discomfort] as a door out – blame the messenger and disregard the message. Or we can use it as a door in by asking:
Why does this unsettle me?
What would it mean for me if this were true?
How does this [white fragility] lens change my understanding of racial dynamics?
How can my unease help reveal the unexamined assumptions I have been making?
Is it possible that because I am white, there are some racial dynamics that I can’t see?
Am I willing to consider that possibility?
If I am not willing to do so, then why not?
Since my learning will never be finished, neither will the need to hold me accountable.
(The poem “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou was read.)
Tish Murphy, June 3
To my Facebook friends whose political views may differ from mine: In a nation that is in great peril on many fronts massive brute force could temporarily quiet dissenting, desperate voices. Decades of experience tells us that these voices would rise again, more strident and desperate than before. The only way deep, systemic issues will ever begin to be resolved is with radical love and respect. Yet we have a President who labels and dismisses those whose voices are unpleasant and scared and yes at times destructive, as “scum” and “low lifes.”
End of dialogue.
NO possibility of listening, learning and painfully trying a new way.
I have wonderful memories of everyone I have met in the rug hooking community – so many great women who embrace a wide range of political beliefs and experiences. As I write from my burned-out neighborhood I hope that I can look through a lens of love, respect and learning. I hope that many of us will opt for that path. It feels like a terrifying, radical thing to do.
Matthew 17:20: Jesus said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
Romans 12:1-2: I appeal to you therefore, siblings, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.