The sound of hope

I hear the sounds of hope in so many kinds of music. I hear hope in the Black Eyed Peas’ latest version of  Where is the Love?

Their music video shows haunting images of refugee children, portraits of people standing alone or together, scenes from the grim headlines.

Where is the Love?” washes over me, wiping away the inky dread that seems to coat the daily news.

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Mapping their journeys

Hand poised above a world map, pen gliding along the path traveled, each person tells the story of his or her life, the journeys across seas and continents, by foot, train, car and boat.

In an airy lobby at MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, wide video screens reveal the stories of eight people, each of whom left home, travelling illegally, without papers, in search of a better life. We hear people tell their stories. We never see their faces. We don’t hear their names. Each video screen shows a map, with a hand, a pen, and the speaker’s words.

I move from bench to bench, watching each video screen, headphones on, listening to the odysseys from home, be it Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Mogadishu, or Ramallah.

Each person calmly traces a journey, in black magic marker over a colorful map. The lines cut across countries and seas, sometimes backtracking, returning to stay at uncle’s home in Spain; caught again by the police in Istanbul.

A woman from Mogadishu details her travels from Ethiopia to Sudan to Libya to Italy, where she has learned the language and has a job. She dreams of living in Norway. Continue reading “Mapping their journeys”

A month of pain

A month ago today, July 5, Philando Castile was still alive.

The cell phone video that Diamond Reynolds livestreamed on July 6 after Saint Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez shot her boyfriend multiple times during a traffic stop has been viewed millions of times.

It’s a been a month of pain.

July 5. Police fatally shoot Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge.

July 6. Police fatally shoot Philando Castile in Falcon Heights.

July 7. A man fatally shoots five police officers, and injures 11 others, in Dallas.

July 17.  A man fatally shoots three police officers and injures three others, in Baton Rouge.

In this month of pain, our community has come together, joining hands in prayers and protests. Our community has also come apart. We see the same video, Philando bleeding out, and yet see it so very differently. Continue reading “A month of pain”

Where can we stand for justice?

In the past 24 hours, police have arrested 69 protesters outside the Governor’s Mansion.

People have been standing, sitting, singing, dancing, praying and sleeping outside the Governor’s Mansion since July 6, when Philando Castile was fatally shot by a cop during a traffic stop.

We have stood outside the Governor’s Mansion, asking Governor Dayton to show his leadership. We have stood, black, white, Asian, straight, gay, trans, able-bodied and disabled, old and young, asking for justice for a 32-year-old Minnesotan whose last moments have been seared into our state and national history, our collective memory.

IMAG3876When we stood on Interstate 94, blocking traffic, disrupting ordinary life, many Minnesotans, including some of my family and friends, complained, saying freeways are no place for protests.

When we stood outside the governor’s mansion, some Minnesotans, including some of the Governor’s neighbors, complained, saying the Governor’s Mansion is no place for protests. Continue reading “Where can we stand for justice?”

White blindness

Books and blogs to learn more about our racial divide

Philando Castile’s death two weeks ago forced me to see how little I knew.

I was blind. White blind. I was ignorant about the racial divides, the racism, where I live. I thought the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Samuel Dubose, and Alton Sterling were tragedies that happened somewhere else. Not here.

Now I know. We are Ferguson and Cleveland and Baltimore and Baton Rouge. We are a place where a cop can fatally shoot a black man because he is black. I don’t want another Philando Castile to die because people like me are white blind.

So here’s what I’m reading and following, to see what I should have known years ago:

A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota, Sun Yung Shin, ed.

Showing Up for Racial Justice Minnesota

Continue reading “White blindness”

Too much violence

We’ve seen too much violence.

We’ve seen violence against cops— twenty officers hurt during Saturday’s Interstate 94 protest; twelve officers shot in Dallas on Friday, including five killed.

We’ve seen violence by cops—Philando Castile killed on Wednesday in Falcon Heights, and Alton Sterling killed last Tuesday in Baton Rouge.

We’ve seen violence against gays—forty-nine people killed and 53 injured in Orlando in June.

We’ve seen too much violence. Too much hate. Too much fear. Too many guns.

Not enough peace.

Some have compared this bloody year with 1968, when Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were killed. Continue reading “Too much violence”

From Saint Paul to Istanbul

Saint Paul is 4,607 miles from Istanbul, but this week’s terrorism seemed a heartbeat away.

My 22-year-old son landed at Ataturk Airport on Monday, a day before the carnage. Three terrorists. 41 dead. More than 200 injured. The news stories seemed painfully real. I ache for the families of the victims, who were just people going places, people on trips, going to work, just living. Until Tuesday.

I’m grateful my son was miles away from the airport when the bullets and bombs exploded. Still, I’m rattled. When bad things happen close to the people we love, we see how small the world is, no matter how many miles separate us.

Part of me wishes my son had stayed here, in not-so-dramatic Saint Paul. Another part is proud he is far away, exploring the world.The more we travel, seeing different places, people, and ways of living, the better our chances of understanding the world.

So I say, go travel, see the world, go, in peace.