Sharing Our Immigration Stories

Together as a staff and with the support of our leadership, Voices for Racial Justice has decided to close our offices next Monday, May 1st, in solidarity with our brothers, sisters, friends and neighbors fighting for immigration justice.

Immigration is not an abstract issue in our office. Many of us are either immigrants, refugees or the children of them. Our stories are complicated and different, just like the stories of the immigrants and refugees in our community.

Every day this week we will be telling these stories, and sharing parts of ourselves and our work with you to help you understand that while we will be closed May 1st, we will still be working, as we always are, to fight for justice, reform and respect of the immigrants and refugees that make our communities great.

My first language was Thai, simply the result of absorbing what I heard at home as the first child of Thai immigrants in Omaha, Nebraska. The world I lived in then as a toddler was small and safe and full of language. But then school became necessary and the teacher let my parents know that I really did not speak English. So the world grew larger, but a little less secure. Although I have lost my first language, I have not forgotten it. Still, listening to my family talk, I understand. I have held on and kept at least an ear and maybe more of myself in both worlds. This being in both worlds is what so many immigrant families do, and as we call on our government to honor the dignity of all immigrants, I am reminded of the rich language and culture, along with grace and beauty that immigrants bring to our communities. This poem dwells on the realization of language and understanding that came to me when visiting my family in Chiang Mai.

– Vina Kay


Salty Sweet

We squeezed around the table –

aunties, uncles, cousins, all –

perched on edges of chairs,

stools, some sharing, together

in the dining room above Aunty’s

shop and the busy market.

Food purchased from the market –

sticky rice, grilled pork, steamed

greens, sweet mangoes –

filled our plates. The talk blurred

by, Thai and English and laughter.

Words ran through my fingers

as I ate, but then, all at once,

something caught. Meaning

clung on, a word, and then another,

and whole phrases, and even

the back and forth. Language

washed over me and I remembered.

I remembered that I knew this

world, that I knew both. One

held me so firmly that I

thought and dreamt its

language. But the other

refused to let go, pulling

me under the currents of

language and smell and tastes –

salty sweet salty sweet –

so that I could not easily come

out. I was amphibious, able to

live in both air and water,

and needing both.


Change the Name!

Join us Voices and Parks & Power at the MPRB meeting April 19th and demand park commissioners vote YES on recommendations to change the name!

On April 19th the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will vote on the recommendations made by the Harriett/Calhoun Master Plan Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to support the full removal of John C. Calhoun’s name from our beautiful lake and to restore the Dakota name Bde Maka Ska..

This is the highest priority recommendation made by the CAC, amongst other recommendations related to trails, etc. Although the CAC already voted to support the change (pictured above) and despite an outpouring of public support, MPRB commissioners are still saying they will not support the name change.

We need everyone to contact their commissioners, then show up and let the MPRB know we will not honor White Supremacists, champions of Slavery and Genociders like South Carolinian John C Calhoun in Minneapolis. Its time for Truth Telling and for public officials to take a stand for Racial Justice, please join us on Wednesday, April 19th and make your voice heard

See the Facebook event here.

Click here to find out which district you live in.

Click here to contact your park board member.



Bemichigamaag Community Walk Against Drugs

Audrianna GoodwinAudrianna Goodwin, student, wrote about her experience at the Bemichigamaag Community Walk Against Drugs, Saturday April 2, 2016.

“Saturday at the walk against drugs, I took from it hope, hope that the drugs and the addictions that come with these drugs will one day be non – existent. One speaker said two things that really stuck out to me

1. He feels that it’s the woman who have the answers to our problems.

2. That the negative stigma around “snitching” is our own form of oppression.

Next Nicole spoke and said some really good things but when she mentioned that she had invited the chief of police of Bemidji, and the Sheriff of Beltrami county to come walk with us, but they never showed.I understand that they have lives of their own, but that in itself shines light that things they say to the media don’t necessarily reflect their own personal agendas.

Before we started walking an elderly man said a prayer and the one thing I took from it is he said each and every one of us is walking for a hundred people that can’t be here, that meant alot to me. Drugs affect all of us in one way or another.

It’s not going to be the cops, or the government officials solving our problems, it’s up to us. We really have to start thinking outside the box when we talk about these issues, the programs that we have in place currently aren’t being successful. I ask myself how can we put our minds together so our children, and our children’s, children don’t have to see the same turmoils we are today. Drugs/alcohol are tearing our communities apart, and it hurts me to see so many of my people suffering.

I know that it’s not only the drug dealers fueling this problem, but for those of you that choose to live that lifestyle. I ask you to open your eyes and see the destruction it has on our communities. And for those of you struggling day to day battling drug/alcohol addictions think of how much better your life would be if, how all of our lives would be,if this epidemic wasn’t upon our people. Our bodies and our minds were never meant to have these things put in our bodies. So with that I pray today, and I will continue to pray for guidance that one day we will have the solutions and be the strong resilient people that we were meant to be.

Mi’iw Miigwech bizindawiyag”