What’s the Minnesota Nice Response to #EndRacismNow?

The uprisings in response to the murder of George Floyd are not sudden or surprising events, if you have been paying attention. The protests are one symptom of ongoing micro and macro systemic and institutional racism in Minnesota and throughout the United States.

In Minnesota, we prioritize being “nice.” Nice is not justice. Nice does not promote equity. Nice will never eradicate racism. In fact, Minnesota Nice is a façade focused on “civility” above acknowledging inequities, above challenging the status quo, above calling attention to any wrongs no matter how blatant they are.

Minnesota Nice steers educational institutions and businesses to develop initiatives to assess and analyze the equitable treatment of students of color, but does not fundamentally change or challenge practices. Talking about diversity, inclusion and equity is NOT the same as implementing the potentially long-term, multifaceted actions needed to legitimately address and eliminate inequity and racism in our workplaces and learning environments.

The continued inequalities in access to education, employment opportunities, wealth acquiring and distribution, and representation in leadership positions are deeply rooted in our country’s history of colonization, slavery and systemic racism against Indigenous, Black and Brown people.

I challenge everyone who works or attends school in Minnesota to evaluate their personal biases and behaviors regarding Black, Indigenous and other peoples of color (BIPOC). I challenge all of us to think about how we benefit from the status quo, and think about who is oppressed and repressed by our current policies and practices.

I challenge all of us to think about how we can use our positions, power and privilege to support and instigate change in our workplaces with our colleagues, and in our learning spaces with students.

I challenges all of us to imagine a word beyond Minnesota Nice – to work actively toward a kind Minnesota. An equitable Minnesota. A just Minnesota.