I have two home towns: the first, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the city I was born in, and the second, St. Paul, Minnesota, the city I grew up in.
Several writers in the book A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota explore the meaning of home as well as identity, understanding, culture, and love, all related to the subject of race and Minnesota. The book, edited by Minnesota author Sun Yung Shin, is the buzz in many circles in the Twin Cities. People have found the book deeply inspiring because 17 artists and writers of color bring us into their heads and hearts by sharing their journey to or their journey in Minnesota. On August 11, Greater Twin Cities United Way hosted a community book discussion with editor Sun Yung Shin facilitating a panel discussion with contributors IBé and Andrea Jenkins.
Around 100 community members attended the discussion. Many came with books in hand, ready to learn. It was clear that everyone came to listen, engage and ask questions. In return, the writers were willing to teach us and share parts of themselves, as well as challenge us and our perceptions of race in Minnesota.
By the end of the event, attendees were in community with one another, vulnerable, exploring hard topics. Themes included love, experience, community (finding it, creating it), and humanity. The authors brought current national events related to race relations into the room. They challenged attendees to think deeply about the way they interact with people of color, the way they benefit or are hurt from/by white privilege, and the things they can do here and now to become better people. Below are some paraphrased quotes that stayed with me as well as some tweets I shared under the hashtag #equitymn.
I first want to recognize that we are on Dakota Land…
– Sun Yung Shin
As a Black woman, as a Trans woman, as a Black Trans woman, I am still shocked when I am included, awarded, recognized, or employed.
– Andrea Jenkins
It’s hard to just be you when you are Black, you wonder, even when someone is being kind, if it’s because of your skin color or if they are truly being kind.
Lulete Mola is a Ron McKinley Fellow on the Community Impact team at Greater Twin Cities United Way. Prior to this, Lulete held the position of Reatha Clark King Fellow and Program Coordinator at the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. Born in Ethiopia, raised in Minnesota, Lulete is passionate about intersectional social justice concerning the rights and leadership of women of color and #BlackLivesMatter. Lulete is also the founder of SHE, a young women’s leadership program in select Minnesota high schools. Follow Lulete on Twitter: @SHEisLM