The Boys Who Cried Racism.
Recently, pro-greenway activists have adopted the habit of accusing those opposed to the greenway of racism. This tends to happen randomly, whenever questions are posed about the greenway, upkeep, who is in charge, etc. So, we would like to say a few things.
1. The implementation of the North Minneapolis Greenway is a HUGELY racist thing.
When we are talking about taking away access to homes, potentially reducing home values, and generally causing a huge upheaval to those who affected, approach matters. When we are talking about doing all of that, in one of the poorest, blackest neighbourhoods in the city, details matter even more.
Details such as appearance. This pilot project was erected as cheaply as possible, using inappropriate materials (Horse troughs as planters. Plants need drainage – they’re all moldy and dead now!), ugly paint, etc.
Does anyone honestly believe that such a big project – a 1 YEAR pilot project – would look like this only a couple months in, if installed anywhere else in the city?:
No reasonable person would be able to imagine this mess anywhere else in the city, even at the end of a 1 year trial. The fact that it is SO run down just a few months in is extremely telling.
Details such as contact. When canvassing the route, many people had no idea what was going on, and stated that they had not been contacted prior to the temporary pilot being installed. Many expressed feelings of having been kept in the dark. Of those who had heard of it ahead of time and had at least a vague understanding of what was up, most expressed feelings of “they don’t listen to us”. Additionally, a large number of people we spoke to did not have access to the internet. Many brought up the view that it all felt racist to them.
This is problematic on many levels… and, again, are not issues that would necessarily be in place, had this been implemented elsewhere. The lack of direct contact with those on the route, when seen through the lens of “Many of the people here do not have internet” seems predatory on the part of the greenway council. It seems like they are taking advantage of the lack of resources – specifically, access to information – in this area, specifically. Would this happen in a predominantly white neighbourhood? Probably not.
Then, there is the matter of the Greenway Council specifically wanting to hire a person of colour as a consultant, for pennies on the dollar. Click here to read all about THAT.
Admittedly, a lot of the problems we’re seeing that appear to be racism share a huge overlap with issues of classism. Whether rooted in race or class, they are important issues that are being outright ignored by those in charge… or worse, exploited for their own benefit (lack of communication)
2. To the best of our knowledge the only people of colour in support of the greenway are those being paid to promote it. This is based on attending many Greenway council meetings and events, and canvassing door to door along the route. Will Lumpkins, Alexis Pennie, Ebony Adedayo, Lawrence Lee, etc. are paid consultants, employees of nonprofits, lobbyists, etc – not all of whom even live in the area, and NONE of whom live on the proposed route.
Taking a look at pro-greenway events paints a very clear picture of who is supporting them. From the “Northside Greenway Now” Facebook page’s (Formerly the official Northside Greenway Council page, has been renamed) recent post about a talk they gave in the impacted area:
… This is every photo they posted from that event. As a rough guess from our canvassing, the residents of the blocks that are currently being subjected to this nonsense are probably around 2/3 people of colour. So, where are they?
They’re not in the photos here. They aren’t at any of the meetings we’ve been to. If you exclude people with a financial interest (actual salary, freelance contract, and/or representing a bike shop), they aren’t even on the Greenway Council board.
3. One of the two people quickest to call greenway detractors “racist” when they ask questions he doesn’t have the answers for is not only a white guy, he’s a white guy that doesn’t even live in North Minneapolis.
Oh, and he’s a white guy – again, who doesn’t live here – that draws cartoons like this and posts them to Facebook to belittle women who raise safety concerns:
Also, when he was asked if he planned to buy property on the Greenway at a recent Open House event, he recoiled in horror – as if living here is completely beneath him. I wonder why that is, exactly? I suppose I could make some assumptions, based on his little “artwork”.
Oh, and for the record, the second person calling detractors “Racist” is Willie Lumpkins. Yeah, the guy from our last entry, here.
4. Racism is a HUGE problem in today’s society. It’s all around us – in the neighbourhood, in our government, on the greenway council, and literally any time we watch the news or go on Facebook.
To be fair, there are more than likely racists who oppose the greenway, also. People of ALL backgrounds oppose this thing, so it would be naive to assume otherwise.
The thing is, racism is an important and serious enough issue, that false allegations of it should never be used to shut people down when it comes to completely non-racial issues. It’s crying wolf, and it detracts from the very real issues of racism that this neighbourhood – and those affected by this project specifically – face.
When a resident asks why the garbage bins aren’t being emptied, why the paint looks like crap, why there are no plans for upkeep, and who is even in charge any more – such questions have no root in racism. To accuse anyone asking such questions of racism is not only a coward’s way to shut down the conversation, it’s also distracting from the ACTUAL racism involved with this project.
… Then again, I suppose it is in their best interest that people NOT focus on things like their aim to pay a person of colour pennies on the dollar, take advantage of a lack of resources with the residents here, etc.