We have heard from the candidates – through multiple forums, in the media, and at our front doors. Many of us are thinking about our choices and getting ready to participate in the first truly competitive ranked choice voting election in Minneapolis.
Yet even as we count down the days to November 5 and do our part in the democratic process, we must remember that voices for racial justice are at work all the time. Elections matter, and not just at the national or state levels. Local elections matter. But so does the every day organizing, activism, and policy making that builds toward greater justice in Minneapolis and throughout the state.
Voices for Racial Justice will be coming together over the next few weeks to call out the power of the voting for justice in our local elections. Communities of color, organizers, activists, and community leaders have a vision for Our MPLS. That vision comes not from candidates for office, but from the people of Minneapolis. Going to the poll on Election Day is one important part of realizing a vision for Minneapolis that works for all of us.
Minneapolis has the largest employment gap in the country for African Americans. What will it take to close that gap and gaps in other communities of color? Local policymaking can make a difference. We will hear from organizers who are thinking and working on the ground to do inform local policies and practices.
The housing crisis is very real for families facing the threat of foreclosure. What is working to end that crisis? And what do we still need to do to make sure the basic human need of having a roof over our heads is met? Leaders working to make housing accessible and affordable will share their ideas for what can happen through local leadership.
Education has been cited as the highest priority for the people of Minneapolis. We cannot be satisfied with a four year high school graduation rate of just 50 percent. For African American and Latino students in Minneapolis, the rate is just 37 percent. Only 25 percent of American Indian students graduate from high school in four years. How do we change the systems of education so that students are successful, regardless of race? Leaders in our communities have solutions that are working and that should expand.
Parks are critical to thriving communities. They are places for youth to participate in sports, for after school and summer activities, and for people of all ages to enjoy the health benefits of exercise. Decisions about programs and funding matter to communities in Minneapolis. We will hear from people who have a vision for how parks can work better for our communities.
The vision we have created in our communities can help shape our decisions about candidates, and even more importantly after Election Day, how we work with our elected leaders and how they understand and act on the priorities we share.
Over the next few weeks, we will be turning the political conversation back to the people. We have had many chances to hear from the candidates who want our votes. Let’s make sure the conversation is complete and that our many, diverse voices have a chance to be heard.
Through the Voices for Racial Justice blog and through a series of homegrown alternative political ads – from the people of our city, on the issues we care about – we will share these perspectives. On Election Day, we will also be out in the community at multiple elections hubs, reminding voters to get to the polls and sharing information about polling places, hours, transportation, ranked choice voting, and same-day registration. We will also remind our fellow voters that when we enter the polling booth, we are not voting alone and we are not voting just for individual candidates. We are voting together for a vision for Our MPLS.
Can we shape a racial equity agenda for the City of Minneapolis? We will need the voices and full participation of voters on Election Day – and the continued power of communities beyond that. November 5 is not the end, but rather the beginning of our engagement with new leadership. Will they listen? Will they hear our Voices for Racial Justice? Let’s make it so.