Insight News

Feb 08th

Letter to the editor: Rejecting Ward 5 as an afterthought

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blong-yangI take great exception to the notion that "I don't know who I represent" in Ward 5 as recently claimed by an unelected city department head in relation to the racial equity toolkit ("Rights Chief: Minneapolis insincere on civil rights legislation," May 14, 2014). Too often the people in Ward 5 seem to be an afterthought. The racial equity toolkit and plan need to be of excellent quality; specifically they need to reflect work that is thoughtful, competent, functional, and substantive. Most importantly, the effort needs to be crafted to substantially move the needle on closing the immense disparities suffered by people of color all over the city, but especially in Ward 5. This iteration of the racial equity toolkit does not yet meet those criteria, it needs work. I don't want to see the people of my ward short-changed and disappointed once more. I'll paraphrase Malcolm X who perhaps said it best: "A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything." Ward 5 has been the victim in that equation long enough. Either we do it right, or why do it at all.

Additionally, we might question the commitment to racial equity of a city department head who suggests that I can't represent Ward 5 fully because I'm Hmong and most of my constituents are African American. The suggestion is ridiculous because I was elected—she was not—by a diverse coalition of voters including African Americans. My people did not come here in chains, they came to escape political retribution. But the truth—as a great leader said—is we're all in the same boat now. I'm not seeking racial equity for one segment of the community; I'm seeking it with equal intensity and purpose for every single person in Minneapolis who is affected by these huge disparities. Ultimately, I am committed to stopping the rhetoric around "One Minneapolis" and working diligently to make that dream a reality.

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