The color of racism (5×8 – 1/31/12)

Racism in Duluth, the return of Select A Candidate, melted memories, the X — and L and V — factor, and Minneapolis: The whole grain city.



Is an anti-racism campaign targeted to white people in Duluth racist by definition? You could probably see this coming after MPR’s story on the “Unfair Campaign” last week.

“We swim in a sea of whiteness, it’s the norm,” Ellen O’Neill, one of the campaign organizers, said. “If we’re white we don’t have to think about it, we don’t see it. So the first step is getting white people to see it.”

Mission accomplished, and there’s a pretty good chance the chatter about the campaign — “a backlash,” the Duluth News Tribune calls it today — is exactly what organizers were planning.

“The issue of racism is real, but it doesn’t pertain only to whites. A campaign directed only to white people is by definition racist,” Duluth resident Phil Pierson said. He’s set up a Facebook page opposed to the campaign.

I’ve spent a lot of time and energy exploring this issue, considering all points of view, and I have to remark on something pretty incredible. No matter how deep I dig, or how many opinions I listen to on whether the unfair campaign is just or not, I keep going back to my initial gut feeling that I got when I first saw that billboard. That was a feeling of disgust. I saw it and my first thought was, “well…that’s just RACIST!”

I’m going with my gut on this, folks. And because the unfair campaign has chosen to base their efforts on a racist stereotype, I can’t bring myself to support it. Their efforts have been spearheaded by some of the most off-the-wall liberal feminist racists this city has ever seen, and somehow they duped some otherwise respectable people and organizations into supporting them. I can’t speculate on their reasons for doing so. I can only shake my head in disappointment that they’d blindly follow a racist message with their misguided hope that the end will justify the means. I assure you, no good will come from this. It’s just more racism, and that’s not the direction this city needs to go.

“To assume that it’s hard for whites to understand racism is insulting to my intelligence,” another resident said.

Meanwhile, WCCO reports a St. Paul teacher is on leave after allegedly singling students out for insults based on the color of their skin:

Latasha Tolbert said sixth grade teacher Tim Olmsted told her daughter that she’d be standing on the corner with a sign begging for money on the expressway.

“He told the whole entire class that it is easier for him to teach rich white folks than poor black people,” Tolbert said.

And the Wall St. Journal says segregation is now at an all-time low in the U.S.


Without fail each election season, MPR’s Select A Candidate is the most trafficked page on the MPR website. The traffic reveals a lot about how we educate ourselves about the people who are running, and it would probably surprise people who’ve been covering the presidential campaign for almost two years.

Traffic is very high on a daily basis, but the largest spike in traffic will occur the day before an election.

Find the beginning of this year’s edition here.


Where do all the Crashed Ice professionals go once they leave Saint Paul? Valkenburg in Holland. The races there start this week, and the track looks nothing like the one constructed near the Saint Paul Cathedral earlier this month:

Meanwhile, back at the Cathedral in Saint Paul, there’s no indication the location was the center of the “crashed ice universe” just a few short weeks ago…



… except for this pile of dead ice.



We’re just five days away from Super Bowl SomethingOrOther. Yes, XLVI. Roman numerals have gone the way of cursive penmanship, Associated Press says, so why are we still using a dead numerical system? Quid quid latine dictum sit, altum videtur — “Anything stated in Latin looks important.”

Which came first? The V or the X?

You didn’t intend to start your day in Latin class, did you?


If you’ve read this far down, it’s possible you’re younger than when you started. That’s the healing power of Minneapolis-St. Paul, ranked 4th in a survey of cities in which to stay young.

Denizens of this vibrant Midwestern metropolis know how to take care of themselves, and that makes it one of the best places to stay young. Minneapolis-St. Paul is best when it comes to eating whole grains, which helps residents have the best blood pressure, too. It’s also second best for low stress, and third best for adequate sleep and vitamin D — all of which make this a youthful city.

Bonus I: Stuff Minnesotans don’t say:

Bonus II: Camilla Williams has died. Before her, African Americans didn’t get to sing opera.

Bonus III: How the current crop of candidates handle hecklers, as judged by a comedian. (Slate)


The Minnesota House is considering a bill that would make teacher evaluations a factor in determining teacher layoffs. The bill would end the “last in, first out” approach dictated by teacher seniority. Today’s Question: What role should evaluations play in teacher job security?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Preview of the Florida primary.

Second hour: Is eliminating seniority-based teacher layoffs an effective way to reform education and save schools money?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Reusing abandoned places.

Second hour: An Intelligence Squared debate: Should the UN admit Palestine as a full member state?

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Seeking the “other side” in political commentary.

Second hour: Reparations for Japanese-Americans interned in the U.S. during World War II,

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – In 1965, a Florida newspaper editor approached homemaker Lucy Morgan and asked if she wanted to be a reporter. The young woman entered the profession with no journalism experience. But she did have the tenacity to eventually investigate politicians, expose lobbyists, and win a Pulitzer Prize. Meet the 71 year old who is still reporting from Florida’s capital